Many people in the Northern United States consider barbecue to be any meat that is thrown and cooked on the grill, while Southerners have a much more specific process in place as a definition for barbecue. The basic tenet behind southern barbecue is low and slow, as in low heat for a long time, which allows the very fibers of the meat to break down and become juicy and flavorful.
Nothing works as well as a smoker for making barbecue. Smokers provide the low and slow heat that is perfect for a barbecue and allows the addition of wood chips which add a wonderful aroma and flavor to the meal as well. A smoker can be a lot of work, however, as it takes a significant effort to keep the smoker at the optimum temperature by constantly adding coal to get the temperature just right. When you think that a classic barbecue dish like pulled pork needs to cook for twelve or more hours you can understand why this would be burdensome.
An electric smoker is a set it and forget it alternative that is easy and effortless. To start with you have to purchase the right type of meat. For pulled pork, the most common and best choice is Boston Butt which is flavorful, juicy and with a high fat content. If the fat is hard on the cut you purchase be sure to trim the hard fat off, but do not go to extremes as a good layer of fat adds to the flavor of the dish.
Once you have the meat prepared it is time to add a rub. Cover the meat with mustard which acts as a binding agent and then add your rub to the top. A rub can include any ingredient, but common components are brown sugar, salt, pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper, as well as anything else that adds the flavor that you are looking for. Apply it liberally to the meat and rub it into the surface being sure to thoroughly coat it.
Next, place the meat in the electric smoker and set it for 225 degrees. Place the meat down with the fat side facing down and be sure to have the drip pan set with the water pan half full. Add wood chips at this point. Less than half a cup should be sufficient and use a clean wood like cherry or apple, as opposed to mesquite or hickory which can have too strong a flavor.
Next, find some chores to do as you will not have much to do for the next six hours. Simply let the meat sit and cook. After six hours spray the pork with some apple cider or juice and close the smoker for the next six hours. Once the meat is has cooked for about twelve hours it will be ready. Take the whole roast out and let it cool before breaking it into small pieces, being sure to not remove the fat.
Then you can simply eat it by itself or add it to a sandwich. Pulled pork is a great dish and an electric smoker allows you to eat an authentic version while doing little work, but a lot of waiting. Low and slow, my friend. Low and slow.