Pulled Pork

We have high standards for barbecue in this apartment. Sarah’s from a barbecue-centric part of the world. We’ve been getting better at making sauces of all kinds (let me tell you about a recent Alfredo experiment that has bolstered my own confidence). Oh, and we live in Germany, home of the Champion Pork People. So why wouldn’t we want to try our hand at pulled pork sandwiches?

I bet this recipe is even easier if you have a slow cooker at your beck and call. (We used to, but it broke when attempting to reheat mashed potatoes on the stove in it. Those things are not meant for direct heat application, and that must surely be why.) But this works just as well in the oven. You can use the shredded meat in any number of applications: on sandwiches with barbecue sauce, as filling in tamales or tacos, tossed into a soup or stew. Unless you’re serving a mass of people, freeze the leftovers and enjoy later.


Spice Rub

1 T hot smoked paprika
1 T sweet smoked paprika
2 T brown sugar
2 T chili powder
1 T ground cumin
1 T ground black pepper
2 t table salt


2.5 kg (about 5 lbs.) Schweineschulter, pork butt, Boston butt, pig shoulder, or whatever you call it, skin on or off


about an hour into the slow bake
top view
There’s not much liquid seeping out yet, but give it like 5 more hours…

Buy a pig shoulder. If you get one with the skin on, it’ll be easy to pull it off later.

Put all the spices together in a small bowl and mix thoroughly. Put the meat in a large, oven-proof pot (we used an enameled, cast-iron pot) and rub the spice mixture onto the meat. You want a consistent coating (look for nooks and crannies into which you can work the spices), but don’t rub so firmly that the spices won’t stay put.

Put the rubbed meat in the fridge inside the oven-proof pot for at least an hour.

After cooking for 5-6 hours, it pretty much falls apart by itself. You just use the forks to help it.
Apply your favorite barbecue sauce, preferably one you made yourself.

Heat the oven to 140-150 °C (285-300 °F) and cook the pork in there, skin-side up (if there’s skin on there) for 6-8 hours, pot lid slightly askew, depending on the thickness of the meat. With about an hour and a half remaining, take it out of the oven and use a ladle or baster to pour the liquid over the top. Then put it back in the oven for the home stretch, but this time, leave the lid off. You want it to reach an internal temperature of 88 °C (190 °F).

Take it out of the oven and try to let it sit for 60 minutes. Peel off the skin and strip away any remaining subcutaneous fat (most of it will have liquefied) before shredding the meat with two forks. Mix in a little of the juice from the pot to moisten, if necessary, and apply barbecue sauce and bread to enjoy pulled pork sandwiches.

6 thoughts on “Pulled Pork”

  1. Harvey Morrell

    Sounds way better than my crock pot version – sear meat, place in crock pot, put Jack Stack bbq sauce (courtesy of my brother in KC) over top, and cook for 6-8 hours – with not much more work. Going to give this one a try for sure.

    1. cliff1976

      I like Jack Stack sauce too. I really like their baked beans. Ever tried ’em?

      We didn’t feel the need to sear the meat. What does that do for it? If it’s supposed to add a somewhat charred flavor, I suppose we accomplished that via the crispy black crust that developed on the skin as it dried out and deposited its moisture on its way down the meat slope into the juice pool.

      1. Harvey Morrell

        I sear it just for texture, as the crock pot keeps everything soft. Searing it makes me feel like I’m getting some burnt ends along with the rest. :) I love their [Jack Stack, ed.] baked beans and cheesy corn.

        1. cliff1976

          Hmm. Our meaty results were definitely tender — easy shreddable with a fork, larger chunks of meat falling apart — but I don’t think ours was TOO soft, such that extra searing is necessary. I wonder if the last phase, where we left the pot lid off and the skin got charred, took care of the texture for us. I fear our method leaves no room for burnt ends.

  2. […] were skeptical, but inspired to pull a pork of our own and fire up the grill […]

  3. cliff1976

    Oh yeah, don’t forget: you can use a stand mixer with a rotating paddle to do the shredding for you. Works great with our Kitchen Aid.

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