I think it’s about time I finally come clean to my readers: I am, in fact, a non-meat eater. Gasp! Please don’t leave yet. I promise that a delicious pulled pork recipe will follow without any rantings from a vegetarian. While I do eat fish on occasion, I haven’t eaten meat of any kind in over 10 years. I suppose this technically defines me as a “pescatarian” but I find this word to be somewhat pretentious, so I just try to tell people that I simply don’t care for meat and I’ll leave it at that.
When I first established my blog, I went back and forth about whether I wanted to approach the recipes found here from a vegetarian perspective. But the thing is, this blog is about the love of food, and I don’t want to limit it just to my love of food, but everyone’s love and desire for delicious and satisfying recipes. And the fact is, most people really enjoy eating meat, so while there might be fewer meat-based recipes from my kitchen, I hope to provide you with mouth-watering, protein-rich dishes as often as I can. This might be less often than, say, the number of baked goods I have here, but any time I make a dish including meat, I will do my best to post it, to show you that really anyone can cook these somewhat intimidating (at least to me) dishes. And seriously, if a non-meat eater can cook up what seems to be a pretty daunting, meat-centric recipe, anybody can.
I realize it’s somewhat like cooking blind, since I never tasted the pork, but both my boyfriend and dog served as taste testers (although I don’t think my pooch is particularly picky). Even more importantly, multiple meat-loving guests confirmed that this recipe is a true winner. And don’t think I did all this cooking alone! I had repeated calls and facetimes with my dad, who is a master pork cooker, to make sure I wasn’t completely messing everything up.
I made this pulled pork for a Super Bowl party, where we had over 20 people crowded around our average size T.V., watching one of the worst football games in history. I doubled the pork recipe, and served it alongside a southern theme menu of homemade macaroni and cheese, baked sweet potato fries and cole slaw. Although the game (and commercials) were pretty terrible, I think the night turned out a success, maybe thanks to the pulled pork. People really like their meat.
This recipe is definitely straight forward, and simple in execution, but I will admit, it certainly takes time. Make sure you buy the ingredients the day before so you can prepare the rub, basting sauce and barbecue sauce the night before you plan on cooking. The day you plan on serving, be sure you have at least 8 hours to spare for cooking, as cook times vary depending on oven and size of the pork shoulder. It’s the perfect recipe for a day of doing 5 loads of laundry (as I did), cleaning up the apartment and watching a marathon of
Downton Abbey insert guilty pleasure T.V. show here.
One of my favorite things about this recipe, is it’s sort of impossible to mess up. Unlike fish – where if it’s in the oven for 30 seconds too long, it’s ruined, this pork could spend hours more in the oven and be just as delicious. I took it out after 6 hours, when the thermometer reached 180 degrees, and realized it wasn’t quite as tender as it should have been when I tried to pull it apart with forks, so I simply put it back in for another hour, and it turned out perfectly! The pork can be even better the next day, so if you want to serve on a Sunday but don’t have time to spare, cook it the day before and then simply heat it up in the oven for an hour extra with the barbecue sauce seeped in and I promise it will be just as delicious, if not better.
Note: I can’t stress this enough. Make sure you are prepared to spend a 6-8 hour period at home to tend to your pork. This is not a quick recipe, but it is certainly worth the time and effort. This recipe is Carolina-style, where the main flavor in the sauce comes from vinegar. If you don’t enjoy vinegary barbecue, this recipe might not be for you. If you like Carolina style barbecue, then I think you will be very pleased.
Pulled pork is most often made with pork shoulder. The recipe I use calls for pork butt, which doesn’t come from the pig’s butt at all, but (pun intended) the thicker section of the shoulder where there is more intense marbling. While I won’t go into my reasonings for being a non-meat eater, I do encourage you to buy pork, and other meats, from reputable butchers who source their products from from cage-free, hormone/antibiotic-free sustainable and enriched environments (farmer’s market anyone?).
Slow Roasted Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Cole Slaw
Adapted from Emeril LagasseServes 8
- 1 boneless pork butt, about 4 pounds
- 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 heaping tablespoon paprika
- 1 heaping tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 heaping tablespoon cayenne
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- Wet Mop Basting Sauce, recipe below
- Barbecue Sauce, recipe below
- 8 Hamburger or Brioche Buns
- Cole Slaw
Wet Mop Basting Sauce
- 3/4 cup white vinegar
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon cracked black pepper
- 1 tablespoon salt
Carolina-style Barbecue Sauce
- 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup ketchup
- 4 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
- 1 tablespoon unsulphered molasses
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
- 3/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
- 1/4 packed light brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons buttermilk
- 2 teaspoons celery seeds
- 1 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
- 3 cups shredded green cabbage (about 1/2 head cabbage)
- 3 cups shredded red cabbage (about 1/2 head cabbage)
- 1 green bell pepper, finely diced
- 2 large carrots, peeled and grated
- 1/2 cup yellow onion, grated
- 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
- Meat Thermometer
The night before you plan on roasting the pork, prepare the rub, Wet Mop Basting Sauce and Barbecue sauce.
For the Rub:
In a small bowl, combine the sugar, salt, cumin, paprika, black pepper, cayenne, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano and thyme.
Prepare the pork: Place the pork in a baking dish. Rub the seasoning evenly over the pork to coat. Cover with plastic and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or preferably over night.
Web Mop Basting Sauce:
The night before you cook the pork, combine the white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, dark brown sugar, red pepper flakes, black pepper and salt in a medium bowl and whisk well. Refrigerate overnight to let the flavors blend.
In a medium bowl, combine the apple cider vinegar, ketchup, dark brown sugar, mustard, molasses, salt and red pepper. Whisk together to dissolve the sugar, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or preferably overnight. The flavors are even better the next day.
The day of:
Make sure you prepare to be available to cater to your pork for 6-9 hours. (This would be a great day to tell the cable guy you’re home to fix your tv, it’s about the same window of time they are available)
Preheat your oven or smoker (if you actually own a smoker I am incredibly jealous) to 225 degrees Fahrenheit.
Bring the pork to room temperature and place in a roasting pan, fat side up. Slow cook in the oven, basting with the wet mop basting sauce every 45 minutes, until tender and the internal temperature reaches 180 degrees F. The cooking should take about 6-8 hours – not kidding people. Remove from the oven and let rest for 20-30 minutes.
With a knife, cut the pork into large chunks to make it easier to pull. With two forks, pull the meat apart from each chunk into small slices (see picture above). Toss with half of the barbecue or to desired taste, and divide among the 8 hamburger buns. Top with coleslaw and serve with remaining barbecue sauce and cole slaw on the side.
In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, mustard, sugar, vinegar, buttermilk, celery seeds, salt, pepper and cayenne and whisk vigorously to dissolve the sugar.
In a large bowl, combine the red and green cabbage, bell pepper, carrot, onion and parsley. Toss with the dressing until evenly coated and add salt, pepper and cayenne to taste. Refrigerate, covered, until just before serving.