Yet another foodstuff that is EVERYWHERE in the South, and I’m not talking about mega-chain restaurants; I mean small mom & pop shops where they’re using a recipe that’s been in the family for generations. Consequently, I never learned how to make it.
Now if you don’t have a smoker (and I don’t), you can actually make a delicious pulled pork right in your oven. The trick is the dry rub and the cooking method (slow and low). Also, this dish has to sit overnight (at the very least 8 hours) with its dry rub on, so remember that prep time has to begin the day before.
The three basic components in this dish are:
- Dry Rub
- Large Hunk of Pork (pork shoulder or Boston butt, 5 pounds or so, with a layer of fat on one side, bone in is good)
- Sauce (not from a bottle, trust me, please)
Before we go any further you should know that I don’t actually measure ANYthing in this recipe, it’s all eyeball estimates. The only thing I’m a stickler about is the internal temp of the meat.
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 3 Tablespoons smoked paprika
- 1 Tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 Tablespoon dry mustard (a spice, not a condiment)
- 3 Tablespoons of sea salt (or any large-grain salt)
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground red cayenne
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon allspice
Once you’ve mixed this all together in a large bowl, gently sniff it (DO NOT stick your whole face in the bowl and breath in deeply, unless you’re a fan of uncontrolled coughing fits and burned nasal passages!) Lean into the bowl and waft the scent up toward your face. Does the dry rub smell like you want your pulled pork to taste? If so, you’re ready to go..!
Now, the pork will eventually cook fat-side down, so I’ll typically set the pork fat side down into the bowl of dry rub and press down lightly, then flip it over and press down lightly again. Then I’ll take the pork and lay it on a clean flat surface (cutting board or cookie sheet, use whatcha got), and continue patting the dry rub into the meat, pulling more dry rub from the bowl as needed. Don’t forget the sides, and any crevices you can find. Once you’re done, place the meat back into the large bowl, cover it securely and place it in the fridge overnight.
SLOW AND LOW is the way to go.
So, 7-9 hours before you want to feed people…….turn the oven on to 300 degrees and let it heat up completely. Place the pork shoulder into a baking dish large enough to hold it without touching the sides. Place the fat or skin side down, and put it in the oven. The pork should cook at 300 degrees until it begins to fall apart. The internal temp should reach 170 degrees at the thickest part of the pork, but honestly once it starts to fall apart, there really shouldn’t be any part of the pork that is uncooked. Once it has cooked for 7-8 hours or so, is at least 170 degrees internally, and is falling apart, remove the pork from the oven, take it out of the dish you cooked it in and set it to the side. If you sneak a piece of the pork before pulling it, it will probably be too salty and you’ll think you’ve ruined it. You haven’t; just be patient, my friend.
The dish you cooked the pork in should have some delicious (and probably burnt looking) drippins in the bottom of the pan. While that pan is still hot, toss in about ¼- ½ cup of apple cider vinegar and begin scraping the drippings from the bottom of the pan to mix them with the cider vinegar (use a rubber spatula for this step). Fancy school-taught chefs (or people who watch the food network) call this step “deglazing”, and this is the beginning of your barbeque sauce. (Authenticity hint: if it comes from a bottle and you don’t know the first name of the person who put it there, then it isn’t barbeque sauce, it’s just flavored ketchup).
The Sauce will require:
- Drippins (see above)
- An additional 1-1 ½ cups apple cider vinegar (depending on taste)
- ½-1 cup spicy brown mustard (the condiment, not the spice)
- ¼ cup ketchup (optional, but listed here because some people think it has to have a red component to be barbeque sauce)
- 1/3 cup orange juice
- 1/3 cup (packed) brown sugar
- A pinch of sea salt
- A squirt of lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon cayenne
- A pinch of pepper (black pepper)
- A pinch of curry powder
- A pinch of allspice
- A small shake of ground ginger
Another option is a pulled pork loaded baked potato:
- One good-sized potato, baked
- Little butter
- Little sour cream
- Lotta pulled pork
- More sauce