Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Pulled Pork with Carolina Style Barbecue Sauce

Over the past month, I've been teaching a class on Carolina Barbecue at the PCC Natural Markets.  You'd think that I'd be sick of it by now, but I have to tell you that the recipes are so good that I made them all again this weekend!  The class is a complete summertime feast from Southern Pimento Cheese to coleslaw, roasted corn with chili honey butter, pulled pork, and grilled peaches with bourbon caramel sauce.  It's really a treat.

The pulled pork features my version of a Carolina-Style Barbecue Sauce excerpted from The Kitchen Pantry Cookbook.  It's vinegar and mustard based barbecue like you find in the Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina.  I created it after a visit with my dear friend, Christin. (Hi CP!)

When I was writing the book, I thought it would be fun to offer more than one type of barbecue sauce. We're so used to the typical tomato/molasses style of most commercial brands. Once I'd perfected the recipe, we invited friends over for a taste test and served both my Kansas City-Style and Carolina-Style sauces. Although both were popular, we all decided that Carolina-Style with its zingy mustard and vinegar base was the favorite.

For the Carolina Barbecue class I use a pressure cooker to make the pulled pork because we have limited time but I thought it might be better to give you the old-fashioned slow braised version here.  It's an all-day affair but I promise it's worth the wait!

Check out the video for an overview and then follow the recipe below for all the details.

Pulled Pork

3 - 4 lbs pork shoulder, pork butt or boneless country spare ribs
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons bacon fat, lard or oil
1 cup chicken broth, apple cider vinegar or apple juice - your choice
buns for sandwiches, optional

Preheat oven to 250F or 275F. (See Chef's Note)

In a small mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients for the dry rub - brown sugar, salt, paprika, smoked paprika, onion powder, mustard powder, granulated garlic, and black pepper. Stir to mix.

Coat the pork with spice mixture. Massage it in well.

Place dutch oven or heavy pot on the stove top over medium-high heat. When the pot is hot, add fat. Brown the pork on all sides. 

Add the broth to the pot and gently scrape the bottom of the pan using a wooden spoon to loosen any bits of meat and only that are stuck.

Place the lid on the dutch oven. Be sure that it's a tight fitting lid. If you don't have a snug lid, cover the pan with aluminum foil and place the lid on top of the foil to ensure a good seal.  Since the pork will be braising slowly, it's important to seal the moisture inside. 

Place the pork in the oven and roast for 4 1/2 to 8 hours. I realize that's a huge range but it depends on the size of your pork shoulder.  You can estimate it will take about 1 1/2 to 2 hours per pound to cook your pork roast between 250F and 275F.  When you can easily pull the meat apart with a fork, it's done!

I usually let the pork rest for 10 to 15 minutes before pulling it. After the pork has rested, shred the meat with your fingers or a fork and serve with Carolina-Style Barbecue SauceServes 4 to 8

Chef's Note: So, you just can't wait for hours to eat your pulled pork, huh? Well, here's quicker method if you own a pressure cooker.

Cut the pork butt into several chunks, 2- to 3-inches each. Coat the chunks of pork with the spice mixture.

Place a pressure cooker pot on the stove top over medium-high heat. When the pot is hot, add 1 tablespoon oil. Brown the pork in batches. When the pork is browned, remove it from the pot and cover loosely with aluminum foil.

Add 2 cups broth or vinegar to the pot and gently scrape the bottom of the pan using a wooden spoon to loosen any bits of meat that are stuck. Return the pork to the pot, along with any juices that accumulated on the plate. Close and lock the lid.

Bring the pressure cooker to high pressure (15 psi). Immediately reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting to maintain pressure, and set the timer for 1 hour.

When the time is up remove the pressure cooker from the heat and manually release the pressure. Carefully open the lid and remove the meat to a platter. Cover with aluminum foil and let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes before shredding. Discard the cooking liquid and serve with Carolina-Style Barbecue Sauce. 

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