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Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day Barbecue Pulled Pork

Okay, so I know this is not authentic barbecue since the meat is not smoked, but it is probably the closest thing I can do without a grill or smoker of some kind.

The reason I love this barbecue is because the meat is so succulent. It's cooked low and slow in the oven allowing the fat to render and the connective tissues to break down creating the perfect mouth feel. The meat falls apart when you go to pull it.
I could eat the meat without the sauce. The rub is a great blend of salty, sweet, and spicy (though not actually spicy, just spices) but the sauce adds that amazing tang. The sauce is a Carolina style vinegar (mustard) based sauce and trust me you will be able to taste the vinegar, but it's sweetened up with lots of dark brown sugar and a little blackberry jam.

The original recipe needed some tinkering but I'm still going to link to it. I thought the rub had too much salt and the sauce was more mustard and cayenne than sweet. I like sweet barbecue. I added the blackberry jam on a whim and I think it really brought the sauce together nicely.

I would definitely buy a disposable roasting pan for this. I used my 9x13 baking dish lined with aluminum foil. The brown sugar in the rub just crusts onto the pan making it murder to clean.

If you've never tried your own barbecue I think this is a great starter recipe. You don't have to worry about wood or smoke or maintaining the temperature in your pit or grill. My only other suggestion is be prepared to feed a crowd or you'll have a freezer full of meat. The recipe calls for a 5-7 lb pork shoulder and with only two of us eating it we wound up with three quart size freezer bags leftover.

Barbecue Pulled Pork

Source: adapted from Simply Scratch

5-7 lb pork shoulder

For the rub:
2 Tbsp sea salt
2 Tbsp paprika
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp dry mustard
1/4 cup dark brown sugar

For the sauce:
1 cup apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup yellow mustard
3/4 cup ketchup
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup seedless blackberry jam
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne (1/4 tsp is just fine for us but if you like spicy go ahead and bump it up)

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees and line a 9x13 baking dish with aluminum foil (heavy duty if you have it).

In a small bowl combine the sea salt, paprika, garlic powder, dry mustard, and brown sugar.

Mix the spices with a fork until combined, breaking up any lumps of brown sugar as you go.

Place the pork shoulder in the baking dish and trim any excess fat on the surface. Don't trim too deep, just the top layer of fat needs to go now. The fat adds moisture and flavor to the pork as it cooks but the rub will not stick to it so you need to be sure the surface is mostly lean.

Pour about half of the rub over the pork and gently massage the spices into the meat. Turn the meat over and pour the other half of the rub on the pork. Rub the spices in, being sure to cover the whole surface of the meat including the sides and ends.

Place the pork in the preheated oven and cook for 5-7 hours, depending on the size of your pork shoulder. My first one was closer to 5 lbs and only needed 5-5.5 hours but this one was a teeny bit over 7 lbs and needed the full 7 hours.

Remove the pork from the oven and allow it to cool while you make the sauce.

In a medium sauce pan combine the vinegar, mustard, ketchup, brown sugar, blackberry jam, garlic, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Whisk the ingredients together until smooth. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until it just comes to a boil. Cover and reduce the heat to a low simmer while you shred the meat.

Using your hands or two forks shred the meat and remove and discard the remaining fat and the bone from the pork. Be careful not to shred too much. You want some larger chunks of the firmer sections of the meat because some sections will practically melt.

Transfer the shredded meat to a large mixing bowl. Remove the pieces of garlic from the sauce and pour about half of it over the meat and mix it in.

Serve warm on sandwich buns with remaining sauce to taste.

We had ours with baked beans and macaroni and cheese.

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