Oh, Pulled Pork… you must surely be my only vice… well you and the several other vices that I have.
Whenever we have friends over for dinner and I ask them in advance what they would like to eat, they tell me 8 times out of 10 Pulled Pork. I serve it as part of a bigger spread, with sweetcorn, my Oven Baked Mixed Potato Fries, Homemade ‘Slaw and lashings and lashings of my Honey Jack BBQ Sauce…
The thing about Pulled Pork is this, people don’t like to attempt it because they think it is too arduous a task and too tricky a recipe. well that is utter pants I tell you, Pulled Pork is one of the easiest and most delicious meals out there, sure, it’s a bit of a hike as far as the cooking time goes but it’s not that big of a deal, it takes care of itself, really it does!
The other thing about Pulled Pork is this you do NOT need a smoker to cook it in, I have always cooked mine using my slow cooker (although I would love a smoker) where it takes care of itself and I can merrily go about my day.
So in this recipe here, I will show you how to make the Pork itself, I will show you the side dishes too, but not here…
There are 3 parts to cooking a good Pulled Pork and they are as follows:
- The rub and overnight marinade
- The first cook
- The second cook and cut
You begin by making a rub, which can either be dry or wet, my particular rub is wet. This sits on the pork overnight and when in the cooker, helps to give it a bit of a crust. Then you have the first cook, where the pork sits in the slow cooker on low for at LEAST 6 hours (the longer the better really). Finally you have the second cook followed by the cut, where you add your BBQ sauce and cook for another few hours before removing the pork form the pot, getting rid of the fat and shredding it for serving.
So first, the rub. There are a TON of recipes for rubs on the Internet, hot and spicy, sweet and mellow, and I tried and tested many of them before making up my own, which I will show you now along with the method and how to get the pork ready for the next morning and the cooking pot!
- 1 pork shoulder (big enough to fit snugly in your slow cooker)
- 1/4 cup soft brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons sweet smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon ground pepper
- 1 tablespoon unrefined sea salt (any will do if you can’t find unrefined)
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon english mustard powder
- 1/3 cup Liquid Smoke
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
- In a small mixing bowl, put all of your dry ingredients together, followed by the wet. Mis it all together to make a stodgy, gross looking mixture, it smells so strong and you may be tempted to taste it, but trust me, you don’t want to do that just yet, better save it for later…
- Unwrap the pork shoulder – you can leave the butcher string on the joint, otherwise it will fall apart before you even cook it and you don’t want that, better to remove it when shredding it later on.
- Take a sharp knife and make deep cuts all over the fat on the pork joint. Then, rolling up the old sleeves, grab handfuls of the rub and smear it all over the pork shoulder, on the top, in the sides, across the bottom, in any little crevices you find… everywhere.
- Next, take some cling film and wrap the pork up snugly for the night. Don’t be stingy, its going to bed in the fridge, would you like it if you weren’t wrapped up warmly? Wrap the pork in double amounts of cling film, followed by a couple of layers of kitchen foil.
- Then, put it inside a larger mixing bowl and pop it in the fridge overnight.
- That’s it for now, off to bed you go, see you about 8am for the next step!
Ok then, it’s the next morning and you’re up nice and early, grab yourself a coffee and turn your slow cooker onto LOW. What we’re going to do now is get the first cook going.
- The marinated pork shoulder
- 100-150ml of liquid, Pepsi, Dr. Pepper, ginger ale or water all work
- So, take the marinated pork parcel out of the fridge and unwrap it carefully, trying not to lose too much of the juicy marinade from the edges in the process.
- Add about an inch of liquid to the bottom of the slow cooker, this will stop the pork form gluing itself to the bottom later on which is going to make your life a lot easier than you might think! You can add ANYTHING, some good suggestions are Pepsi, Dr. Pepper, ginger ale and good old fashioned water. The acids break down in the pot and make the meat juicy and sweet.
- Pop the pork snugly into the cooker, pop the lid on and head off to work or whatever it is you are planning on doing until about 5-6pm. A quick note here, yes, I have said to run the first cook through from 8am till 5-6pm BUT it doesn’t matter if you are unable to do this, if you get home at 7 or 8 even it will be fine because to be honest, the longer this baby cooks, the better it will taste.
Right, onto the final stage now, it should be late in the afternoon and you have just arrived home, good day at work dear? Here is the method for the last part of the cook and the recipe for the gorgeous tangy sweet Honey Jack BBQ Sauce that will follow the pork all the way from this part of the cook to the table and your mouth!
- The slow cooked pork shoulder
- 1 bottle good BBQ marinade sauce (I use Paul Newman’s Hickory, but you can use any as long as it is good, or you can even make your own!)
- 2 tablespoons runny honey
- 50ml fresh pineapple juice
- A good dash of Jack Daniels (or any bourbon if you don’t have Jack)
Remove the pork shoulder from the slow cooker and place it on a chopping board.
Discard the liquid from the bottom of the slow cooker pot, this is mostly fat and juices from the meat and the now boiled liquid from before. You can keep a little to add to your sauce if you wish, but I don’t bother as a rule.
On the chopping board, remove the butcher string from the pork and cut off the thick layer of fat from the top of the shoulder. Then place it back in the slow cooker.
Into a small mixing bowl, pour 3/4 of the bottle of BBQ sauce, add the honey, pineapple juice and the Jack Daniels and mix thoroughly.
Pour the mixed sauce over the meat in the pot and replace the lid.
Leave to simmer in the pot for another 15-30 mins while you get the other sides ready to serve.
When you are ready, remove the pork from the pot again, leaving the sauce in the pot. Place on a chopping board and begin to pull the joint apart with a couple of forks and a sharp knife for those big chunky strips. Place all of the pork you have shredded onto your serving platter.
Over a small bowl, sieve the sauce that is left in the pot, then pour that into a jug. You can either pour the sauce over the meat now before serving or you can put it on the table for those who don’t want a lot to choose how much sauce they use (my preference, you don’t want to force it on people!).
Slice up some nice warm cheese topped subs or rolls and serve up the pork, delicious in the rolls topped with the BBQ sauce and a large spoon of my Homemade ‘Slaw.