There’s something I haven’t done before that I really need to try: pulled pork in the oven. I have a friend and fellow Paleo-er, who regularly makes hers in the oven and raves about it. I’m using a different flavoring method, but still going low and slow with this fatty piece of pork. I wanted to try a brine first, then a dry rub. I like experimenting when I cook and the hunk of meat before me is the perfect guinea pig.
Because I chose to brine this, it will take one to two days to make. You don’t have to brine though! If you wanted to make this on Saturday or Sunday to supply protein for the week’s meals, by all means, just rub and roast.
3 to 3.5 lb shoulder, boneless
water to cover
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/2 onion, cut in half
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp garlic powder
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp ancho chili powder (or another smokey chili powder)
1 tsp cumin
If you are brining, follow this directions. I saw a tip once about using the pot and lid from a slow cooker as a basin for brining. Worked perfectly, I recommend it! I put the pork in first, then covered it with cold water (about 7 cups). Brining is simple, just add relatively whole ingredients whose flavors can be absorbed into the meat gently flavoring and aiding its ability to retain moisture during the drawn-out roasting process. In this case, I’m doing apple cider vinegar, onion, garlic, bay leaves and salt (of course). Keeping it simple. Add those things, cover and refrigerate for 6 to 12 hours.
Once the brine is complete or if you have decided to skip that step (which is fine), use a paper towel to pat the pork dry. The rub works best on dry meat, otherwise you end up with a paste that has a hard time staying put and “crusting” the right way. In a small bowl, combine the spices in the rub ingredients list. I’ve seen people use a plastic container so they can secure the lid and shake to combine the spices. That works well too. Rub all of this onto the pork and into all of the little crevices. It will be a healthy coating… embrace it. I do the rubbing in the pan that I will use to roast the meat, this way nothing goes to waste. Also, if there’s a side with a solid piece of fat, try to have that facing upwards when it cooks.
Put the shoulder in the oven and set the temp to a whopping 225°F. Because this is gonna go for 6-7 hours, I really don’t see the need to preheat, but do whatever you like… So I read that for low-and-slow roasting the magic formula is 1.5 – 2 hours per pound. My shoulder is 3.2 pounds, so I’m shooting for 6.5 hours. I ended up going slightly longer (7 hours) then covered it in foil, turned off the oven and let it sit for another hour. I’m not sure that my end-game was necessary, but this was my first time and I played it by ear. I wanted to make sure the pork gently reduced its temperature and hopefully had juices redistribute by the prolonged resting phase. So much work for some pulled pork, right?? I can tell you, it was worth it. I’m pleased with how this turned out!
When the meat is cool enough to handle, transfer it to a large work surface that you can easily clean. This gets messy! Use your hands to easily pull the meat away in small sections. Carefully shred the pork and remove large portions of melted fat. Discard the fat, treasure the meat.
And now… shameless food porn shots.