Pulled pork is a favourite in the southern United States and it's easy to see why. It is southern comfort food at its best: Whole pigs (or parts of them) are slow-cooked for many hours over a charcoal pit and the accompanying barbecue sauce, which is more vinegar than tomato, is the perfect accompaniment to the sweetness of the pork. The pork is cooked until very tender, then pulled or chopped and served (usually as a sandwich). It's a great way to feed a crowd.
Since true pulled pork is barbecued very slowly in a smoker for six to seven hours, my version is less authentic because I wrap it in foil first and cook it in the oven for the first four hours, which is a lot easier on the home chef. I set up a smoker box (which you can buy at stores such as Canadian Tire and the Home Depot) in my gas barbecue, although it doesn't produce much smoke at low heat. In this case, a charcoal barbecue gives the finest end product. However, we all loved this slightly inauthentic home version.
To serve your guests, place a large platter of the pork in the centre of the table and let them make their own sandwiches. Serve it with coleslaw, potato salad, baked beans or bean salad and preserved chillies. You can actually buy very good pulled pork at some butchers but it is fun and easy to make ahead of time.
To give the pork its customary smokiness, you should have wood chips or a smoker box under the grill. Keep the heat as low as you can (a perfect temperature is 250F to 275 F). You need a fatty piece of pork or it won't be juicy enough. When pork is cooked, combine with Carolinian Barbecue Sauce, or your favourite barbecue sauce and reheat them together.
- 3 pounds (1.5 kg) pork shoulder
- ¼ cup Barbecue Rub (recipe below)
- 8 kaiser or other rolls
- 1½ cups Carolinian Barbecue Sauce (recipe below)
Preheat oven to 250 F.
Massage barbecue rub all over pork shoulder, wrap in foil and place in oven for 4 hours. Remove foil before placing on grill.
Set up barbecue by placing a smoker box under the grill. Punch holes in it if it doesn't have any. Turn off all but one burner, keeping that burner on medium low.
Place pork on the turned-off side of the grill and cook, with the lid closed, for 2 to 3 hours (until internal temperature is about 170 F or meat is so tender it can be cut with a fork). Baste pork with barbecue sauce every 30 minutes for the last 2 hours on the barbecue. Place pulled pork on soft rolls and douse with barbecue sauce. Serves 6 to 8.
This rub will keep all summer.
1/4 cup kosher or sea salt
2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chilli powder
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon hot smoked paprika
Combine all ingredients. Makes about ¾ cup rub.
CAROLINIAN BARBECUE SAUCE
This sauce, which hails from the Carolinas, is spicy and sharp, contrasting nicely with the sweetness of the pork. You can also use this sauce for ribs. It will keep for one month refrigerated.
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup ketchup
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons dried mustard powder
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon chilli flakes
Whisk together all ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to incorporate sugar. Cool. Makes about 11/2 cups sauce.