Pulled pork

I have a client whose taste in food mirrors mine. She loves fresh, seasonal cuisine that runs rampant in California and Italy. The type that erupts with color, taste, and variety. Huge, family-style plates overflowing with different high quality meats, fruits, vegetables, and cheeses are her jam. Mine, too. I would characterize this taste as humbly exquisite and refined. But. This taste gets bulldozed the second pulled pork is mentioned.

This pulled pork recipe is my client’s favorite, even if it is the polar opposite of her usual dainty, pristine food. Honestly, who cares? Inhibition dissolves once the pulled pork card is played. Who can resist the fattiest part of arguably the world’s tastiest animal, rubbed in spice, cooked slow and tender and doused with sweet and tangy barbecue sauce. Vegans and vegetarians, maybe. Also, hardcore Jewish people. But for everyone else, this classic heart-stopper renders most wobbly in the knees. 

Often times, though, it’s lackluster at restaurants and looks like a sloppy, bland mop. I was recently in Austin, TX for a my Nutritional Therapy Practitioner program, and it was a priority for me to get BBQ. In a place like Austin, known for their ‘cue, I was transported to porky heaven with each bite I sampled. But most of us aren’t in BBQ capitals often, especially if you reside in Miami, FL like I do. I will not comment on the BBQ scene here; rather, I suggest you make this recipe at home to get a true fix.

I’ve outlined three different ways to make the pork. In the oven, in the slow cooker, or in the pressure cooker. I’ve recently sung the praises of the pressure cooker, because I finally mustered up the courage to use the setting on my InstantPot, and now I’m crazy obsessed. The freaky thing cuts cook time in measly fractions. I don’t get it, but it’s amazing. However, the hissing stove-top devil pot terrifies me because it might explode in my face, so I’ll just stick with my electric one for now. I’ve also included options to make it whole30/paleo/refined sugar-free, if you follow the directions listed on the ingredients for the rub. If you would like a whole30 compliant BBQ sauce, I like this recipe. Most of the time, I’m using some high-quality bottled stuff that I get at Whole Foods with no junky fake ingredients or thickeners but it does have sugar in it. Since I don’t eat it often, it’s worth it to me.

Keep in mind that you will need to marinate the pork overnight in the dry-rub. So while the actual prep time is a few short minutes, there is a lot of inactive waiting. Just be sure to plan accordingly. It’s so worth it. I like to serve this with a tangy coleslaw, pickled red onion, jalapenos, and sweet potatoes.

Pulled pork
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Ingredients
  1. ¼ cup packed brown sugar, plus extra as needed (for Whole30, sub 2 tablespoons smoked paprika + 2 tablespoons coriander for the sugar)
  2. ¼ cup sweet paprika
  3. 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  4. 1 tablespoon onion powder
  5. 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  6. 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  7. 1 (5-pound) pork butt or shoulder roast, trimmed and cut into four pieces
  8. 1 cup barbecue sauce, plus extra for serving
  9. Cider vinegar
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, combine sugar (see substitution above if omitting sugar), paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, cayenne and 1 teaspoon salt. Using fork, prick pork all over. Rub sugar mixture over pork, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 8-24 hours. Unwrap pork.
For slow cooker
  1. Spread BBQ sauce evenly over pork, cover, and cook until pork is tender, 9-11 hours on low or 5-7 hours on high.
For oven
  1. Set oven at 325 degrees F. In a large dutch oven, place the pork. Spread the BBQ evenly all over it and add 1/2 cup water. Cook in the oven for 3 1/2 - 4 hours, until the pork is completely tender and falls apart when pricked with a fork. If it's still tough, cook in 30 minute increments until it reaches desired tenderness.
For pressure cooker
  1. In an electric pressure cooker, place the pork. Spread the BBQ evenly all over it and add 1/2 cup water. Close the pressure cooker, and cook at high pressure for 75 minutes. Allow the pressure to release and check the pork. It should be completely tender when pierced with a fork.
Finishing the pork
  1. Transfer pork to large bowl, let cool slightly, then shred into bite-size pieces, discarding excess fat. Disclaimer: this is a fatty cut of meat so be sure to expect lots of fat. It's okay, you just have to remove it. Let braising liquid settle for 5 minutes, then remove fat from surface using large spoon. Season the pulled pork with salt, pepper, sugar (if using), and vinegar to taste. Serve with more BBQ sauce on the side.
Notes
  1. Make your life easy by asking your butcher to trim and quarter the pork roast for you. We want it cut into four pieces so that the rub can have a greater surface area to expose its flavor.
Adapted from America's Test Kitchen Slow Cooker Revolution
Adapted from America's Test Kitchen Slow Cooker Revolution
Ashley Pardo http://ashleypardo.com/

 

  1. Santiago Pardo

    February 11th, 2016 at 7:38 pm

    Hello Sweetheart. Pork is one the staple dishes for Cubans.
    I was raised with Lechon Asado, Chuletas de cerdo,Masas de puerco, etc.
    Pulled pork is another way to make pork and it is delicious.
    I will try to make it sometime by following your recipe.
    It is a great addition to your recipe lineup.
    Love Dad

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