What goes better with a day of sports and beer than pulled pork? Not much. I probably haven’t made pulled pork since a Super Bowl party a couple years ago. But I knew I had to make it for the Winter Classic potluck event Vinny was hosting this week. As the smell of barbecued deliciousness was wafting through my apartment all day, I couldn’t remember why I don’t make it more. Then I remembered. Doing the actual shredding is a messy pain in the ass.
So let’s start at the beginning. I usually buy a pretty cheap cut of pork shoulder (bone in), since it gets ridiculously tender while slow cooking anyway. This time around, I only found a grain-fed hormone-free cut. I guess pork is really popular to make for New Year’s Day. It was a nicely marbled piece of meat, but I really didn’t notice any difference in the finished product. I start out by trimming the visible fat off the pork. I used a cast iron dutch oven this time, but I’ve made it entirely in a crock pot before, and it comes out just as well. I sautéed some onions as a base for the sauce, which I simmered on the stove for a bit before adding the pork and throwing it in the oven until it was falling off the bone. I like to use beer in my sauce. This time I went with Brooklyn Winter Lager, since I had a few in the fridge. My sauce came out a little hotter than I like, so I added a couple tablespoons of brown sugar, which gave it a nice sweet flavor.
After it came out of the oven and cooled off a bit, the shredding began. Most recipes will tell you to use 2 forks to shred the meat, but if you’ve made it properly, it should come apart in your fingers just as easily. It always takes me longer to do this part than I think it will. This time, there ended up being so much fat around the bone, it was difficult to separate from the meat, and it took even longer than usual. I put the finished results in my trusty crock pot to keep it nice and warm for serving at the potluck. By the way, having a portable crock pot with a locking lid was one of the best investments I ever made. A must-buy item for any home cook.
BBQ Pulled Pork
1 6-7 lb pork shoulder/Boston butt (bone in)
1 tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions (diced)
2 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp cumin
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne
2 tsp ground mustard
12 ounces beer
3/4 cup ketchup
3/4 cup cider vinegar
1 can tomato paste
3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, minced (buy them canned, add more peppers/sauce if you like more heat)
Preheat oven to 300. Heat oil in dutch oven. With heat on medium, add onions and cook, until soft and lightly browned. Increase heat and add chili powder, cumin, paprika, cayenne, and ground mustard. Cook for 1 minute, while stirring. Add beer, ketchup, vingegar, tomato paste, and chipotle pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce to medium low and simmer until sauce is slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.
Remove from heat. Add pork. Cover in sauce. Bake in oven, covered, for 1.5 hours. Turn pork over, and cook for 1.5 hours more. Spoon sauce over pork again. Cook uncovered for another hour.
Remove from oven. Place pork on a cutting board and let cool until you can touch it (I like to use a casserole dish or pan with sides on it for this part, to keep the juices from dripping all over the floor/counter). Remove bone and fat. Shred pork and return to the sauce.