Easy Carolina-style pulled pork

Tips and tricks for an authentic taste treat!

My relatives in North Carolina first introduced me to the awesomeness of true Southern barbeque (a food style, not a device) years ago and I was instantly smitten. I’ve since discovered through a lot of experimentation that you don’t need a lot of fancy equipment to make really, really good pulled pork. Starting the meat in the oven and finishing it on a gas grill with a few packets of wood chips to impart a smokey flavour makes for an easy yet spectacularly delicious version. This process takes approximately 6 hours but for much of that time all you’ll need to do is savour the aroma of delicious roasting meat! In the Carolinas, most pulled pork comes on a bun (I like to use my challah dough to make them) along with coleslaw and potato salad.

Ingredients

  • 5 – 8 pound pork shoulder or butt roast
  • dry rub (see below)
  • sauce (see below)

Note: Netted classic pork shoulder blade roasts are perfect for the job; they are inexpensive and surprisingly flavourful, plus there is zero waste when pulling apart the meat.

For dry rub:

  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) salt
  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) cumin
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) black pepper
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) paprika

For sauce:

  • 3/4 cup (185 mL) Worcestershire sauce
  • 3/4 cup (185 mL) cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup (185 mL) brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup (185 mL) ketchup
  • 3/4 cup (185 mL) water
  • 3/4 teaspoon (3.75 mL) cayenne
  • few drops liquid smoke

Method

  • Remove packaging and elastic netting (if applicable) from the pork roast and pat dry with paper towels. If the meat is really falling apart, tie it with a few pieces of clean kitchen string.
  • Rub the meat liberally with the dry rub and let sit at least 30 minutes or up to 4 hours in the refrigerator.

  • While meat is resting, make the sauce (see below).
  • When ready to start roasting, preheat oven to 325F.
  • Place meat in a roasting pan and cover tightly with foil.
  • Roast until the internal temperature of the meat is 160F. For a 5 pound roast, this should take about 2.5 hours.
  • While meat is roasting, soak wood chips in water (per the instructions in the hyperlink above).
  • When meat reaches 160F, turn off heat and leave in oven until grill is ready.
  • Prepare 3 foil packets of wood chips and place one directly on top of one burner of your gas grill.
  • Turn grill on high heat and let it pre-heat until the wood chips begin to smoke.
  • Turn off one burner (not the one that has the wood chips on top of it) and place roasted meat over the unlit burner. Adjust temperature of other burners so your grill maintains an even temperature of about 375F.
  • Smoke the meat until it reaches an internal temperature of about 195F. This should take approximately 2 hours.
  • Note that you will need to add the next packet of wood chips after about 30 minutes, to give it time to start smoking just as the first one dies out.
  • While meat is smoking, make the sauce. Put all ingredients in a large saucepan and whisk to combine well. Cook the sauce over medium heat for 15 minutes. Let stand at room temperature.
  • Remove the meat from the grill and let it stand for about 30 minutes.
  • When ready to pull the meat apart, reheat the sauce, reserving about 1 cup (250 mL) of the mixture in a small jug, to pass at the table.
  • Pull apart using two forks (you may need a knife to chop up some of the crispy exterior).
  • Note that if you have a stand mixer, you can also roughly chop the cooked pork into 4 inch (10 cm) pieces and put several in the mixer’s work bowl at a time. Using the paddle attachment, pulse the mixer on and off for about 1 minute in total and the meat will be perfectly shredded.
  • As you shred the meat, place it in a microwave-safe bowl or casserole dish and drizzle a bit of the warm sauce over it; repeat each time you have another portion of the meat shredded.
  • Stir well in the casserole dish to combine meat and sauce.
  • Note that you can roast, smoke and pull the pork a day or two in advance and reheat it gently in microwave when ready to serve.

Serves 10 – 15 people, depending upon the size of pork roast cooked and portion size.

Author: Paula Roy

Welcome to my kitchen! I play with words and with food. I love simple dishes prepared with passion and am always seeking to find new methods to make food as fun and flavourful as possible. I'm also an enthusiastic explorer of faraway lands and cuisines.

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