Does pulled pork count as comfort food? Just me? Ok.
The first time I tried to make pulled pork was for my engagement party back in 2013 on the 4th of July. I had no idea what I was doing. We had these HUGE pork shoulders, and were planning on feeding 75 people. We put the pork in the oven while it was still frozen and there was no seasoning on it. We took it out of the oven maybe 2 hours two early. It was so tough we were shredding it with a bread knife. THEN - yes it gets worse - instead of making our own bbq sauce, we bought bbq sauce, didn't dilute it at all, and just poured it all over this unseasoned meat. People told me it was good, but now I know that they were lying.
This recipe IS SO MUCH better than that experience, and will blow your mind.
It is sweet, savory, a little spicy, full of flavor, and oh so versatile.
The first key is marinating the pork in a dry rub the night before. This allows the flavors to soak in and penetrate the meat below the surface. This way ALL of the pork tastes good. The second key is using a BONE-IN pork shoulder. YES. Not a boneless, but a bone-in. This adds SO MUCH MORE flavor to everything. It is also really satisfying when that bone comes out clean because the meat is so tender. The third key is the beer. I used the Night Owl Pumpkin Ale by Elysian Brewery, but any kind of stout or brown ale would work fine.
I served this batch of pulled pork as a bowl with cilantro lime rice, pico de gallo, and sliced avocado. All of these flavors went so well together, it was magic. Pulled pork goes with everything, so let your imagination run wild.
🏷 Time: 4 hours (1 hour active)
6lb Pork Shoulder, bone-in
1TBSP Kosher Salt
1TBSP Smoked Paprika
3TBSP Brown Sugar, packed
1tsp Garlic Powder
1tsp Onion Powder
1tsp Ground Cumin
1tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper
2TBSP Avocado, Vegetable, or Olive Oil
12oz Pumpkin Beer (or any kind of stout, brown ale, or dark lager)
12oz Ketchup (I found that Portland Ketchup worked best)
⅓ cup Apple Cider Vinegar
½ cup Dijon Mustard
¼ cup Brown Sugar, packed
5 Chipotles in Adobo Sauce
2TBSP Worcestershire Sauce
The Night Before
Cut pork into large chunks. The piece with the bone will be much larger than the rest, but we want to make sure the rest of the shoulder is cut up into large chunks
Mix Salt, Paprika, Brown Sugar, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Ground Cumin, and Black Pepper together in a small bowl
Rub the spice mixture on the cut pieces of pork
Place in a zip top bag and refrigerate overnight
The Day Of
Preheat oven to 300F
Heat oil in a dutch oven or heavy bottom pot over medium-high heat
Sear all sides of cut pork in batches, placing seared meat on a plate. Careful to watch that the crust isn’t burning. We want a nice brown sear, but we don’t want the brown sugar to burn. If it looks like it is starting to burn, turn the heat down
Add beer to the pot to deglaze the pan. We want all of the brown stuff on the bottom of the pot, this is called the Fond
Add pork back to the pot, cover, and bake at 300F for 2.5 to 3 hours
The meat should be so tender you can pull the shoulder bone right out without having to use a fork or anything. This will be the sign that the meat will easily shred
Spoon meat out of the pot and place in a large bowl. Shred pork and set aside
Over medium heat on the stove, add ketchup, apple cider vinegar, dijon mustard, and brown sugar to the pot with drippings
Whisk until fully incorporated
Place chipotles in adobo sauce into a blender, along with ½ a cup of sauce mixture. Blend until smooth
Pour chipotle sauce back into the pot on the stove and bring to a boil
Add Worcestershire sauce, stir, and reduce to a simmer
Simmer for about 5 minutes until sauce thickens slightly
Add bbq sauce to shredded pork until desired sauciness is reached
Save the remaining bbq sauce to use for ANY OCCASION because it is just that good