Lately, I've been trying to simplify things in the kitchen. Most people believe that you can get away with one three knives (Chef's, paring, bread), and I've been trying to extrapolate this even further, relying on my cast-iron Dutch oven and pan to do most of the grunt work, instead of trotting out pot after pot. Utensils are another area where gadgetry can make thing more complicated than they need to be. My parents have a garlic 'finger-trap' that peels the garlic and then another yo-yo-esque contraption to grind it up. While I lust over it at times, if one truly want to improve their cooking skills, the hard way is the only way to bolster the fundamentals. This recipe would certainly be described as pulled pork the 'hard way' but the results were spectacular, and the work involved made the end result all the more satisfying.
Note: This recipe is courteous of the Homesick Texan blog that has oodles of recipes of this caliber.
Step 1: Prepare the rub
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup black pepper
1/4 cup of finely ground dark coffee
1/4 cup paprika (smoked is preferred but regular is fine)
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon chipotle powder
2 teaspoons granulated garlic
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons allspice
I had made pulled pork once before, but in a slow-cooker after covering it in Root Beer. It was really good, but I wanted a recipe that would be a bit crispier and smokier, in line with more traditional recipes. This rub wasn't time consuming, but I had to hunt around for a few of the ingredients. The coffee and chipotle powder were unique additions, and while I didn't notice the coffee in the final product, I'm sure it enhanced the smokiness of the chipotle.
After preparing the rub, I put my 4lb bone-in Pork shoulder in a large freezer bag along with the rub, and shook it vigorously until it was thoroughly caked. There was a healthy amount of rub left over, but the recipe mentioned to simply save the rest rather than try to slather it all on. I then wrapped the shoulder in Saran wrap and put it in the fridge for 6 hours. This was around 2:30pm. The recipe called for 8 hours in the fridge, but I really couldn't push it that late, as I would be doing the final steps before work the next morning, and the old 'I was pulling pork' excuse raises its fair share of eyebrows.
I took it out around 8:30, and it was quite juicy. I unwrapped it, placed it in the Dutch oven fat-side up, and put the whole thing in the oven at 250.
While things got down to business in the oven, I started out on the homemade barbecue sauce. I had purchased a bottle of sauce from TJ's, but I decided if I was going to go through this whole process, taking a shortcut on the last step would be sacrilegious. So I set out to make the sauce. I'm glad I did.
Chipotle barbecue sauceIngredients:
1 teaspoon canola oil
1/2 half a medium onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cups ketchup
1/4 cup yellow, ball-park style mustard
1/4 cup molasses
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup brewed coffee
2 canned chipotles, chopped
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup lime juice
Salt and black pepper to taste
Much like the rub, I had a lot of these ingredients, it was simply a matter of getting them all on the same team. I did have to get a few things: molasses (I usually hate molasses, but now I can see their merits), more ketchup (2 cups is a LOT of ketchup) and canned chipotles (of which I used maybe 1/4). Sauteing the onions until translucent, followed by the garlic, I added the rest of the ingredients and simmered the whole thing on low for about half an hour.
Color me stupid, but I was flabbergasted with how much this looked and smelled like real barbecue sauce! I suppose I had never sat down and considered what actually went into a BBQ sauce, but I would have scarcely guessed ketchup, molasses and mustard. I now feel silly for putting mustard AND BBQ sauce on a burger when I now realize I was double-dipping on the same condiment. Live and learn. After a little hand blender action, this sauce was pureed into the sauce-like consistency we know and love.
This is the point where I went all Ron Popeil and left things cooking overnight. I set my alarm, (recipe said 8hrs, I did closer to 9) and went to bed. When I woke up at 5:30, I thought I had died and gone to hog heaven. I took the crispy-looking pig out of the oven and let it sit for about 45 minute while I went back to bed and felt bad for my roommate having to smell it when he put on his morning pot of coffee. When I woke up at 6:15, the pork was waiting just as cute as can be.
I grabbed a pair of forks, hoisted the shoulder into a bowl and got a-shredding. The bones slipped out smoothly, and the forks were more than capable tools for the job. In about five minutes, I had four pounds of glistening, crispy pork. The darker portions are actually the caramelized brown sugar and toasted coffee from the rub, NOT evidence of burning as you might think. If I had read more closely, I would have found that this was noted in the recipe. Whoops.
After stirring in the sauce, the Chipotle Pulled Pork was complete. Of course, it was also 6:30 in the morning, so I packed some into a tupperware, grabbed a bun and brought it for lunch, hoping it wasn't a complete failure.
As things so happened, my fears were unfounded. It was delicious, and others agreed. The pork was moist and crispy, the sauce lightly sweet with the distinct smokiness of chipotle and a hearty kick. It really was fantastic, and I had it again that evening with Milwaukee's finest and again for lunch the next day (sans beer, of course). Give it a try, it's well worth the effort, and not really much effort now that I think of it, just patience and trust in your oven not to burn you alive in your sleep. That's it!