Four-Hour Roasted Pork Shoulder for Pulled Pork Sandwiches

I grew up in the American South where pulled pork barbecue sandwiches were at the top of the food pyramid. My parents thought nothing of driving well over an hour to indulge in the best pulled pork in the region. The pork featured here could easily rival those of my youth. A boneless shoulder is rubbed with a handful of seasonings, then roasted slow and low until it is so tender it can be “pulled” apart with table forks. When ready to serve, you mound the pork atop soft hamburger buns, then slather on the simple homemade barbecue sauce.

A 4 1/2 lb/2 kg boneless pork shoulder (also called a Boston butt), tied
2 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp light brown sugar
1/2 tsp onion powder
Pinch cayenne pepper

Homemade Barbecue Sauce (recipe follows)

12 hamburger buns

1. Pat the pork dry with paper towels/absorbent paper and place on a work surface. Combine the chili powder, cumin, brown sugar, onion powder, and cayenne. Rub the spice mixture over all surfaces of the roast. Wrap the roast in plastic wrap/cling film and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or up to 8.

2. Arrange a rack at center position and preheat the oven to 300 degrees F/150 degrees C/gas 2.

3. Remove the plastic wrap/cling film and place the pork on a rack in a roasting pan/tray that is large enough to hold it comfortably.

4. Roast until you can pierce all surfaces of the pork very easily with a sharp knife and a thermometer registers 190 degrees F/88 degrees C when inserted into the thickest part of the roast, for about 4 to 4 1/2 hours. Remove the roast from the oven and let rest for 20 minutes.

5. Using two table forks, “pull” the pork into shreds. (The pork can be prepared 2 days ahead; cool, cover, and refrigerate. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet/tray, sprinkle lightly with a little water, cover with foil, and reheat in a 350 degree F/180 degree C/gas 4 oven until warm, about 20 minutes.)

6. Serve the pork mounded on hamburger buns and drizzled generously with sauce. Pass extra sauce separately.

Makes 12 large sandwiches

COST: Inexpensive

PREP TIME: 1 hour 15 minutes, including making the barbecue sauce

START TO FINISH TIME: 8 to 11 hours

SiDES: Cole slaw and baked beans are favorite sides for these sandwiches, but Skillet Summer Corn (page 154) would also make a fine addition.

LEFTOVER TIP: Both the pork and the barbecue sauce freeze well. Pack each separately in freezer containers, and you’ll have the makings for these sandwiches on hand whenever you have a craving for real Southern barbecue.

Homemade Barbecue Sauce

All the classic flavor notes–sweet, tart, and hot and spicy–can be found in this sauce. Although the ingredients are typical of those used in American-style barbecue sauces, the taste of this one is complex and delicious. It can be prepared several days ahead and also freezes well.

4 tsp canola oil
1 cup/125 g chopped onion
1 cup/280 g ketchup/tomato sauce
2/3 cup/130 g packed light brown sugar
2/3 cup/165 ml cider vinegar
1/4 cup/60 ml unsulphured molasses/treacle
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp instant coffee powder
2 tsp yellow mustard
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

In a large, heavy saucepan heat the oil over medium heat. When hot, add the onions and sauté until translucent, for 4 to 5 minutes. Whisk in 11/2 cups/360 ml water, ketchup/tomato sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, molasses/treacle, Worcestershire sauce, coffee powder, mustard, chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring continuously. Lower the heat and simmer until the mixture has reduced to about 3 cups/810 g, for about 30 minutes. (The sauce can be prepared 5 days ahead; cool, cover, and refrigerate. It can also be frozen for up to 2 months. Reheat when needed.) Makes about 3 cups/810 g

COST: Inexpensive

PREP TIME: 20 minutes


© Copyright Betty Rosbottom 2011

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