Pulled Pork - to die for! Tender, juicy and delicious!

Pulled Pork - to die for! Tender, juicy and delicious!

I had such a craving for pulled pork. It was 10 am on a Sunday and I was leaving for most of the day. Pulled pork is very easy to prepare at home, but it does take a while. Luckily my husband was home to baby sit the pork as I would never leave anything, even in a very low oven, unattended.

I rushed to the store to pick up the pork. I had a pulled pork recipe scribbled in my recipe book that called for a 7-pound shoulder or butt roast. And that’s the thing with home cooking – you don’t always get the exact ingredients, cuts of meat; what your local supermarket sells often guides your cooking (unless you go to a butcher, but even then, they don’t always have everything at all times.) The only cut the nearby supermarket had was a shoulder pork roast that was only 3 pounds. And that’s not an issue at all, plus it may even work better as a smaller cut would require less time. I selected a well-marbled piece and rushed home.

Ideally, it would be wonderful to leave the pork in the rub overnight, but I obviously did not have this luxury of time today. I rubbed the roast, seared it, sautéed some onions. I wanted the intense barbeque flavour so I also added liquid smoke and some barbeque sauce mixed with some chicken stock as my braising liquid.

Does the idea of liquid smoke scare you nutritionally? Omit it entirely, if you wish. However, I use a good brand of liquid smoke which is totally natural and has only water and smoke in it.

When it comes to pulled pork, higher end restaurants often have a textural contrast in this dish. This could be achieved by baking the pork uncovered for a period of time. I skip this step as I don’t particularly care for the textural contrast; furthermore, baking this pork uncovered can contribute to drier meat, so why not skip this step altogether for a foolproof recipe!

Also, this recipe is calling for already made barbeque sauce. Feel free to use homemade barbeque sauce in your dish.

Look at how lovely this looks! For the 3-pound roast it only took about 4.5 hours. The aroma that filled the house was simply unbelievable and the second I stepped through the door my family started begging me to have the dinner right away.

This Sandwich is Perfect! So tender, juicy and delicious!

This could absolutely be made ahead and reheated covered in 350° oven for about 30 minutes. What a fantastic choice for a make ahead summer dinner (or winter or any season for that matter to reminisce about the long-gone summer barbeque days) or for company – your guests, as long as they are able to eat pork, will love this!

I also have a few more tricks up my sleeve. I scoop out the “flesh” from the bun, as it gives a nicer ratio of meat to bread; of course, this step could be omitted according to preference. In addition, I aggressively toast the bun in 450° oven (2-3 minutes or so,) as with all the juices from the coleslaw and pulled pork – it makes the bun sturdier and not fall apart, while providing some interesting textural balance to the dish.

Seriously – look at this picture below. Who can resist a giant platter of already assembled messy, juicy, delicious pulled pork sandwiches served at a dinner party!!

Pulled pork goes exceptionally well with coleslaw. I have a great recipe for creamy coleslaw that could be found here.

By the way – you can use miniature buns and make pulled pork slider appetizer!

DifficultyBeginner

Yields6 Servings

 3 lbs pork roast (butt or shoulder, preferably bone-in) - see notes below for a larger roast
 1 ½ tsp kosher salt (3/4 tsp if using fine table salt)
 2 tbsp dark brown sugar
 1 ½ tsp paprika
 ½ tsp black pepper
 1 tsp garlic powder
 1 ½ tsp chili powder
 ½ tsp cayenne. optional
 6 tbsp barbeque sauce, plus more to adjust the flavour of final product
  cup chicken stock (plus more as needed)
 2 onions, sliced into thick slices
 2 tbsp oil
 2 tsp liquid smoke, optional
 buns, for serving
 coleslaw, for serving
 Other fixins such as sliced jalapenos, pickles, cilantro, tomatoes, peppers, etc.

1

Mix salt, brown sugar, pepper, chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, cayenne and rub over pork roast. This can be used right away or refrigerated covered in plastic for hours or overnight. If you are using a roast double the size of the roast in this recipe, double the amount of spices.

2

Preheat the oven to 300°.

3

Heat oil in a Dutch oven and quickly sear the roast all over. It will only take a few minutes as that sugar will burn fast. You can do that, or I found broiling works very well too. Alternatively, this step could be skipped entirely, if desired, but it does deepen the flavour. Remove to a plate.

4

Sautee onions until softened and begin to brown. Be careful not to burn. Set pork roast on top of the onions.

Note, you can skip sautéing the onions and set the pork on a bed of raw onions. However, when the pork comes out from the oven - the onions may not be caramelized enough. In that case, you'll be able to finish caramelizing the onions in a skillet.

5

Mix 6 TBSP of barbeque sauce, liquid smoke and about 1/3 cup chicken stock and pour gently over the onions (not over the pork as that will wash off the rub.) Please note, the goal with adding the liquid is not to submerge the pork. Having some liquid adds flavour, moisture and provides the assurance your onions and pork won't burn. A little amount of liquid goes a long way.
*If using a larger roast/larger Dutch oven, you may need a bit more chicken stock, just to gently coat the bottom of the pot.

6

Cover and place in the oven. Roasting time will take anywhere between 3.5 and 5 hours. For me, it was 4.5 hours. The pork should be fork tender and falling off the bone - literally, if you insert the fork, you should have no resistance and the meat should fall apart; if using bone-in - the meat should simply fall off the bone. There are many variables responsible for the exact cooking time, so if your meat is not fork tender at 4.5 hours - cook longer, checking every half an hour. The good thing is that it's nearly impossible to overcook the pork roasting it with this method at low heat and covered Dutch oven.

Please note, it will take longer for a larger roast. Roasting 2 3.5 lbs roasts in a large tightly sealed baking dish took me 5.5 - 6 hours.

7

Remove the pork and allow to cool slightly before shredding with a fork (shred to your liking, but resist shredding too finely.)

8

The onions and sauce left behind will be used to flavour your pork. Add more chicken stock, if needed, to deglaze the pan and turn the onion mixture into a nice sauce. Skim as much fat as possible off the top.

Although you can skim the fat, mix everything together and serve - it's ideal to wrap each componenet separatly and refrigerate for a couple of hours (onions, pork and sauce all separate.) The reason for that is that all the fat in the sauce will rise to the top and you will be able to remove it easily when it solidifies; plus this will give more time for the flavours to meld together even more. Otherwise, your dish will likely contain lots of fat.

Besides, make ahead dishes are great and make for an excellent no-stress dinner party dishes!

9

Fold the pork into the onions and sauce. Taste. Season with salt and pepper. Feel free fold in more barbeque sauce, according to taste. I folded another ½ cup.

10

Slice the buns in half, scoop out the flesh from the top portion of the bun (this will ensure much better more balanced ration between the amount of bread and pork,) and toast the buns. I toast them under the broiler until golden and very well toasted, making them slightly crunchy and sturdier to hold all the saucy pork and coleslaw.

11

Top each bun with some pulled pork, coleslaw and other fixings such as sliced jalapenos or pickles. Serve and enjoy!

Troubleshooting:
12

If the onions are not as caramelized as desired - simply finish caramelizing them in a skillet, on the stove top, over medium-high heat stirring frequently.
If you added too much liquid and the sauce is too liquid - simply boil it in a pot on the stove top until reduced (after you have removed the pork.)
If you don't have enough liquid left - simply add chicken stock, barbeque sauce or the combination of both to moisten your pork.
If at any point during the cooking process there's not enough liquid in your pot (unlikely) - fee free to add a few more splashes of chicken stock.

For the make ahead option: reheat the pork together with the sauce and onions, covered, for about 30 minutes in 350° oven.

Doubling the recipe:
13

It's very easy to do. If you get a larger roast or two 3-pound roasts, simply double all the ingredients (except chicken stock - you may need a bit more, but not necessary twice the amount) Expect the cooking time to be a bit longer - closer to 5.5-6 hours.

Ingredients

 3 lbs pork roast (butt or shoulder, preferably bone-in) - see notes below for a larger roast
 1 ½ tsp kosher salt (3/4 tsp if using fine table salt)
 2 tbsp dark brown sugar
 1 ½ tsp paprika
 ½ tsp black pepper
 1 tsp garlic powder
 1 ½ tsp chili powder
 ½ tsp cayenne. optional
 6 tbsp barbeque sauce, plus more to adjust the flavour of final product
  cup chicken stock (plus more as needed)
 2 onions, sliced into thick slices
 2 tbsp oil
 2 tsp liquid smoke, optional
 buns, for serving
 coleslaw, for serving
 Other fixins such as sliced jalapenos, pickles, cilantro, tomatoes, peppers, etc.

Directions

1

Mix salt, brown sugar, pepper, chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, cayenne and rub over pork roast. This can be used right away or refrigerated covered in plastic for hours or overnight. If you are using a roast double the size of the roast in this recipe, double the amount of spices.

2

Preheat the oven to 300°.

3

Heat oil in a Dutch oven and quickly sear the roast all over. It will only take a few minutes as that sugar will burn fast. You can do that, or I found broiling works very well too. Alternatively, this step could be skipped entirely, if desired, but it does deepen the flavour. Remove to a plate.

4

Sautee onions until softened and begin to brown. Be careful not to burn. Set pork roast on top of the onions.

Note, you can skip sautéing the onions and set the pork on a bed of raw onions. However, when the pork comes out from the oven - the onions may not be caramelized enough. In that case, you'll be able to finish caramelizing the onions in a skillet.

5

Mix 6 TBSP of barbeque sauce, liquid smoke and about 1/3 cup chicken stock and pour gently over the onions (not over the pork as that will wash off the rub.) Please note, the goal with adding the liquid is not to submerge the pork. Having some liquid adds flavour, moisture and provides the assurance your onions and pork won't burn. A little amount of liquid goes a long way.
*If using a larger roast/larger Dutch oven, you may need a bit more chicken stock, just to gently coat the bottom of the pot.

6

Cover and place in the oven. Roasting time will take anywhere between 3.5 and 5 hours. For me, it was 4.5 hours. The pork should be fork tender and falling off the bone - literally, if you insert the fork, you should have no resistance and the meat should fall apart; if using bone-in - the meat should simply fall off the bone. There are many variables responsible for the exact cooking time, so if your meat is not fork tender at 4.5 hours - cook longer, checking every half an hour. The good thing is that it's nearly impossible to overcook the pork roasting it with this method at low heat and covered Dutch oven.

Please note, it will take longer for a larger roast. Roasting 2 3.5 lbs roasts in a large tightly sealed baking dish took me 5.5 - 6 hours.

7

Remove the pork and allow to cool slightly before shredding with a fork (shred to your liking, but resist shredding too finely.)

8

The onions and sauce left behind will be used to flavour your pork. Add more chicken stock, if needed, to deglaze the pan and turn the onion mixture into a nice sauce. Skim as much fat as possible off the top.

Although you can skim the fat, mix everything together and serve - it's ideal to wrap each componenet separatly and refrigerate for a couple of hours (onions, pork and sauce all separate.) The reason for that is that all the fat in the sauce will rise to the top and you will be able to remove it easily when it solidifies; plus this will give more time for the flavours to meld together even more. Otherwise, your dish will likely contain lots of fat.

Besides, make ahead dishes are great and make for an excellent no-stress dinner party dishes!

9

Fold the pork into the onions and sauce. Taste. Season with salt and pepper. Feel free fold in more barbeque sauce, according to taste. I folded another ½ cup.

10

Slice the buns in half, scoop out the flesh from the top portion of the bun (this will ensure much better more balanced ration between the amount of bread and pork,) and toast the buns. I toast them under the broiler until golden and very well toasted, making them slightly crunchy and sturdier to hold all the saucy pork and coleslaw.

11

Top each bun with some pulled pork, coleslaw and other fixings such as sliced jalapenos or pickles. Serve and enjoy!

Troubleshooting:
12

If the onions are not as caramelized as desired - simply finish caramelizing them in a skillet, on the stove top, over medium-high heat stirring frequently.
If you added too much liquid and the sauce is too liquid - simply boil it in a pot on the stove top until reduced (after you have removed the pork.)
If you don't have enough liquid left - simply add chicken stock, barbeque sauce or the combination of both to moisten your pork.
If at any point during the cooking process there's not enough liquid in your pot (unlikely) - fee free to add a few more splashes of chicken stock.

For the make ahead option: reheat the pork together with the sauce and onions, covered, for about 30 minutes in 350° oven.

Doubling the recipe:
13

It's very easy to do. If you get a larger roast or two 3-pound roasts, simply double all the ingredients (except chicken stock - you may need a bit more, but not necessary twice the amount) Expect the cooking time to be a bit longer - closer to 5.5-6 hours.

Pulled Pork Buns

Serve this with my creamy coleslaw for the most amazing balance of flavours and textures.

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