Chefs and amateur cooks typically have that one recipe that they hold sacred. That recipe defines their style of cooking and is their go-to when providing a bountiful feast for friends, family, potential life partners and everyone in between. Well, this pulled pork recipe is mine. This meal has been taste-tested by some of my toughest critics, and the response has never been short of two thumbs way up.
Most people think that real high quality slow-cooked meats require a professional smoker and some type of secret sauce, and therefore they never give pulled-pork recipes a fair shot. This recipe requires no special tools and can be made in the comfort of your own kitchen, no matter how small it may be. Patience is the only requirement for preparing this meal, because once the palpable aroma of the seasoned meat fills your house, it’ll be hard to wait the full 10 hours that this hunk of pork takes to reach perfection. That’s right: This pork shoulder is cooked low and slow for almost half a day until it literally falls apart. If you like super-tender and juicy pork that is equally sweet, spicy and smoky, then this recipe is for you. Get after it.
Pulled Pork Recipe
1 large boneless pork shoulder (6-8lbs)
2 Vidalia onions, sliced
3 large carrots, cut into discs
10-12 garlic cloves
2 Honeycrisp apples, sliced
1 stick butter
2 TBSP liquid smoke
For the dry rub
½ cup dark brown sugar
Cracked black pepper
For the slaw
½ Julienned apple
Sliced red cabbage
1 TSP cayenne pepper
Apple cider vinegar
To prepare the meat, combine and mix the dry rub ingredients together, and then heavily coat all sides of the pork shoulder. Stuff the pork with 5-6 whole garlic cloves, and let the meat sit in the fridge for a few hours (not entirely necessary, but the longer the dry rub breaks down the meat the better).
In a large cast-iron Dutch oven or slow-cooker, place 1 sliced onion, carrots, 5 minced garlic cloves, and 1 stick of butter. Place the seasoned meat on top of the other ingredients with the fat side facing up. Cover the meat with another sliced onion and 1 sliced apple, and 2 TBSP of liquid smoke. Cover the pork with aluminum foil and the Dutch oven/slow-cooker lid and cook for 9 hours at 220°. If using a Dutch oven, try to turn the pot every 2-3 hours.
After 5 hours, skim the fat off the top of the pork – you should be able to simply peel away the top layer of fat using tongs, and then discard of the fat. After the full 9 hours, remove the pork into an aluminum tray using a slotted spoon or tongs (keep the juice in the Dutch oven or slow cooker).
In a saucepan, bring the pork juice to a boil and reduce by half until the fat has burned off and is able to be removed from the juice. Mix the juice back into the pork and cook for 1 more hour (you can also add another sliced apple if you like sweeter pork). Mix the pulled pork well, add salt and pepper to taste, and serve on a roll with the slaw and some arugula. Enjoy.