Cooking is a lot like love making- okay, okay, stay with me people. I promise I won’t get too graphic.
All I’m saying is that sometimes you want something quick and easy and other times… well, other times you want to take your time and book off an entire day (or hour- whatever, I’m not Sting. Jeez).
We already have a pulled pork recipe on Port and Fin- a dead easy, reliably delicious, crowd pleaser that can be found here. This… this recipe takes a little more dedication, but I assure you the payoff is great (just like when you’re making lo- … you know what, nevermind. We can end the metaphor there).
This recipe is easy, but it does require a day of ‘babysitting’ (translation: drinking cold beer in the sunshine while occasionally checking on the meat), but if you want to really impress your friends this summer- here’s your dish.
The recipe below is broken down into a couple parts- the rub, the sauce and the slaw. The spice rub makes a large quantity so I keep the leftovers in an airtight jar in my spice cabinet. It is great on chicken, pork, seafood or grilled veggies for when you do feel like a quicker grill-up.
I have included barbecue, smoker and oven cooking options below as outlined by the Memphis Blues Barbecue House cookbook. Regardless of your cooking method, when making a slow cooked meat like this it is especially important to pick a well-marbled, fatty piece. Keep in mind you will be rendering the fat through the lean meat throughout the long cooking time so you’ll need that moisture to keep it happy. The pork will cook for about 5-8 hours so whip out the bocce balls, slap on some sunscreen and enjoy your day. Slow food is tasty food!
- The Meat
- 2 kg (~ 4 lb.) boneless pork shoulder with a fat cap
- ~1/4 cup spice rub (see below)
- The Spice Rub
- 1 cup dried parsley
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup Seasoning Salt
- 3 Tbsp ground black pepper
- 3 Tbsp garlic powder
- 3 Tbsp onion powder
- 3 Tbsp dried oregano
- 3 Tbsp sweet paprika
- 1 Tbsp mild mustard powder (not "Keens" brand, it's too sharp)
- 1 Tbsp celery salt
- pinch cayenne pepper
- The Sauce
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- 1 Tbsp dark brown or demerara sugar
- 1 Tbsp molasses
- 1 Tbsp white vinegar
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp honey
- 1 Tbsp ketchup
- 1 tsp yellow mustard
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- dash Louisiana-style hot sauce
- 1 tsp Seasoned Salt
- ½ cup water
- The Slaw
- 2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 tsp white vinegar
- ½ tsp hot sauce
- ¼ tsp Seasoned Salt
- A large pinch each of ground black pepper, mustard powder and celery salt
- ¾ cup mayonnaise
- 1 cup packed shredded green cabbage
- 1 cup packed shredded red cabbage
- ½ cup grated carrots (or whatever other raw vegetables you like)
- To make the spice rub, combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly so there are no clumps. Store in an airtight container in the cupboard up to 6 months.
- Gas Barbecue Cooking Method: Rub the pork shoulder with the spice rub. I like to really massage the rub in, which creates a bit of a paste on the moist meat. Turn on one side of your gas barbecue 250–275°F (120–140°C). Put one piece of applewood on the lit side of the grill. (Or, use a smoker box and refill as needed.) Place the shoulder on the unlit side of the grill, fat cap side up. Close the lid and allow it to smoke. Once the smoke has cleared, open the lid and put in another chunk of wood. Repeat until all the wood is gone. A 4 lb (2 kg) pork shoulder will take approximately 7 hours to become soft enough to pull apart. During the last hour of cooking, tightly wrap the meat in tinfoil to allow the shoulder to steam in its own moisture. Take the meat off the barbecue and let it stand for 20 minutes. Remove the tinfoil and place the meat in a large stainless steel bowl. Use your hands to break the meat up into tiny pieces (a kneading motion similar to making bread works well). Incorporate all the fat and juices into the meat mixture.
- Water Smoker Cooking Method: Start the charcoal in a starter chimney. Make sure the coals are white hot then fill the water reservoir half full. Load the charcoal into the smoker and place 2 chunks of wood on it. Or, use handfuls of wood chips placed directly on the charcoal. Place the pork shoulder on the top rack of the smoker, fat side up. Close the lid and allow it to smoke. Keep adding hot charcoal and wood as it burns down. You may need to reload 3 or 4 times during the 8 hours. Monitor the temperature and try to keep it consistently between 250–275°F (120–140°C). During the last hour of cooking, wrap the meat in tinfoil to retain its moisture.
- Oven Cooking Method: Rub the pork shoulder liberally with the All-Purpose Dry Rub. Place the shoulder in a roasting pan, fat cap up, and cook in the preheated oven for 3.5 hours. Remove from the oven, wrap with tinfoil, and cook for another 1.5 hours to 2 hours. To know when it’s done, test it by pushing down on the pork shoulder. It should feel tender and ready to fall apart, if it’s still too firm, cook for another 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and unwrap the pork. Use two forks to separate the pork while it rests in the roasting pan. There will be natural juices and drippings that you can incorporate back into the pulled pork.
- To make the barbecue sauce, combine all the sauce ingredients in a saucepan. Whisk thoroughly or combine with a hand-held blender to ensure there are no lumps. Simmer over low heat while stirring frequently for 1 hour (this pasteurizes the sauce).Cool for at least 1 hour before transferring to an airtight container for storage. Store for up to 1 month in the refrigerator.
- To make the slaw, combine the lemon juice, white vinegar, hot sauce, seasoned salt, black pepper, mustard powder and celery salt in a large mixing bowl and blend well. Add the mayonnaise and mix thoroughly. Set aside.
- Combine the shredded cabbage and carrots in a large bowl. Add the dressing and mix well. Adjust the ratio of dressing to vegetables to suit your individual taste.
- Assemble sandwiches on small buns with a drizzle of memphis barbecue sauce and slaw on the side or on top. Pairs great with cornbread and a cold beer or sweet tea!