Carolina-Style Slow Cooked Pulled Pork

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Good pulled pork is darn near a religious experience in the American South.  To make truly authentic pulled pork you need a smoker and lots and lots of time.  Not to worry if you can’t be bothered to tend a smoker or you can’t have one where you live, there is an easy solution.  All you need is a slow cooker or a large oven safe pot with a lid.  If you have neither of these and you are desperate for a taste of pork heaven, you can always cook it in large baking dish tightly covered with heavy-duty aluminum foil.

The rub recipe is an all-purpose one that I also use on chicken.  Feel free to substitute your favorite rub.  I am by no means an expert on Carolina-style barbeque sauce so I found a recipe by Tyler Florence on the Food Network’s website which garnered good reviews.  The sauce is very tangy with a spicy, mustardy taste.  It is completely different from the ketchup based barbeque sauces that are more popular elsewhere in the U.S.  I found it to be a great accompaniment to the pork and more that a little addictive.

Dry Rub:

1 tablespoon ancho chile powder
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground corriander
1 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Pork:

1 (6 to 7 pound) pork shoulder or Boston butt
3-4 teaspoons hickory liquid smoke

Carolina Style Cider Vinegar Sauce:

1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 cup yellow mustard
1/2 cup ketchup
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
2 garlic cloves, finely minced or run through a garlic press
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Make the sauce by adding all the sauce ingredients to a pot over medium heat.  Stir well.  Bring to a simmer and cook for 20 to 30 minutes until lightly thickened, stirring occasionally.  Set aside.  Rewarm the sauce while you pull the pork.

Mix together the dry rub ingredients in a small bowl.  Rub the spice blend over the pork.  If you want you can marinate the pork as long as overnight, covered in the refrigerator.  Alternatively, you can cook the pork right after rubbing the spice mixture.  Next, choose your cooking method, either a slow cooker or the oven.

Slow Cooker:  cook on LOW for 8 to 10 hours

Oven:  put the pork in an enameled, cast-iron pot with a lid or a large Corningware baking dish with a lid or a large baking pan tightly covered with heavy-duty aluminum foil.  Heat oven to 300 degrees.  Cook for 4 1/2 to 5 hours.

The pork is done when it is falling apart.  Remove the pork from the oven and transfer to a large cutting board.  Using 2 forks, pick off a chunk of meat and shred the pork.  If the chunk is large, cut it in half first before shredding.  As you shred, discard any fat and bone.  Place the pulled meat into a large bowl.  Add the hickory liquid smoke one teaspoon at a time, stirring well after each teaspoon.  Taste the meat and if you want a smokier taste add more liquid smoke, 1 teaspoon at a time, until it has the desired smokiness.  Pour half of the sauce onto the pulled pork and stir well.  If it still looks dry, add more sauce, 1/4 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition.

Serve with the extra sauce, hamburger buns, coleslaw and baked beans.

Serves 8-10

pork and sauce recipe adapted from Oven -Roasted Pulled Pork Sandwiches by Tyler Florence

dry rub recipe from Weber’s Way to Grill: The Step by Step Guide to Expert Grilling by Jamie Purviance

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One thought on “Carolina-Style Slow Cooked Pulled Pork

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