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An Easy, Classic Pulled Pork Recipe

There’s nothing like a pot of pulled pork to feed a party. It’s easy to make in advance, and perfect for a feed-yourself buffet. Small and large buns will take care of kid and grown-up appetites. Fortunately you don’t need a smoker to make tasty, smoky pulled pork – a slow cooker or covered baking dish will work just fine. Smoked paprika in the rub will impart smokiness. I recently came across a new formula, made with pork shoulder, cut into chunks and rubbed with a simple blend of brown sugar and spices and braised in a low oven until the meat is tender enough to pull apart with two forks. This is so simple it can be pulled into service for a weeknight meal (in the slow cooker while you’re at work, or simmering away in the oven as you putter around the house) and multiplies easily when you need to feed a crowd.

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  • A pork shoulder roast or steaks is best. 1 of 7
    A pork shoulder roast or steaks is best.
  • Chop it into chunks and mix the spices for the rub together with your fingers. 2 of 7
    Chop it into chunks and mix the spices for the rub together with your fingers.
  • Toss the meat with the rub, massaging the spices into the meat. 3 of 7
    Toss the meat with the rub, massaging the spices into the meat.
  • Plop it into a baking dish – I like using cast iron, but whatever you have with a tight-fitting lid. (Alternatively, cover it tightly with foil.) 4 of 7
    Plop it into a baking dish - I like using cast iron, but whatever you have with a tight-fitting lid. (Alternatively, cover it tightly with foil.)
  • It needs a long, slow cooking time to braise until it’s fork-tender. 5 of 7
    It needs a long, slow cooking time to braise until it's fork-tender.
  • You should be able to pull it apart easily with two forks. 6 of 7
    You should be able to pull it apart easily with two forks.
  • Toss it with its cooking liquid – and a glug of barbecue sauce, if you like. 7 of 7
    Toss it with its cooking liquid - and a glug of barbecue sauce, if you like.

Generally I brown my meat (pork shoulder, usually) before tossing it in the slow cooker to braise, but there’s no need here, and you don’t notice a difference. Simply cube your pork – steaks or a roast – and massage with a dry rub. If you have a favorite barbecue rub, you can use it here instead of making your own. Then cook, covered, at 300F for 3-4 hours, until the meat is pull-apart tender. It’s enough to toss it in its own juices, made more flavorful by the dry rub, or douse it in a little extra barbecue sauce for a sweet, saucy kick.

Pulled Pork Sandwiches

adapted from the awesome Alice at Savory Sweet Life

Dry rub:

1/2 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp. paprika
1 Tbsp. smoked paprika
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 Tbsp. dehydrated garlic granules or bits
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

3 lb pork shoulder
2 cups chicken stock or beer

barbecue sauce, for serving (optional)
buns, for serving
creamy coleslaw, for serving (optional)

Mix the ingredients for the dry rub together in a small bowl with your fingers. Cut the pork shoulder into large cubes on a cutting board, and douse with the spice rub. Massage it into the meat with your hands.

Put the meat, along with any excess spice rub, into a baking dish with a tight-fitting lid that will accommodate it. Pour the stock or beer down the side of the pot (so as to not wash the spices off the meat), cover and cook at 300F for 3-4 hours, until the pork is fork-tender. Remove from the oven and shred the meat with two forks, tossing it with its cooking juices. Add a few glugs of barbecue sauce, if you like. Serve on soft buns, with creamy coleslaw if you like.

Serves 8.

Hearty meals that are full of heart: Babble’s Best All-American Recipes!

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