Weekend Recipe: Pulled Pork

Not everybody has a smoker or an outdoor barbecue pit at their house -- in fact, most people have neither. So even though residents of some parts of the U.S. would turn up their noses at the idea, we're very grateful for adapted, indoor barbecue recipes.

This pulled pork from America's Test Kitchen uses brining and two cooking methods (as well as liquid smoke, which is created by forcing wood chip smoke into a condenser) to approximate that cookout flavor, so it takes a while from start to finish, but it's low-effort. There's a sauce recipe included here, but if you'd like to use your own mix 2 cups of your favorite barbecue sauce with ½ cup of the defatted pork cooking liquid. A fat separator is helpful here, but it's not impossible to do it manually.

You'll be feeling Southern in no time.

Photo courtesy America's Test KitchenPulled Pork with Sweet and Tangy Barbecue Sauce
Serves 6-8
Pork
1 cup plus 2 teaspoons table salt
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons liquid smoke
1 boneless pork butt (about 5 pounds), cut in half horizontally
1/4 cup yellow mustard
2 tablespoons ground black pepper
2 tablespoons smoked paprika (or sweet paprika, if smoked cannot be found)
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Sauce
1 1/2 cups ketchup
1/4 cup light or mild molasses
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Dissolve 1 cup salt, 1/2 cup sugar, and 3 tablespoons liquid smoke in 4 quarts cold water in large container. Submerge pork in brine, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 2 hours.

While pork brines, combine mustard and remaining 2 teaspoons liquid smoke in small bowl; set aside. Combine black pepper, paprika, remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, remaining 2 teaspoons salt, and cayenne in second small bowl; set aside. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees.

Remove pork from brine and dry thoroughly with paper towels. Rub mustard mixture over entire surface of each piece of pork. Sprinkle entire surface of each piece with spice mixture. Place pork on wire rack set inside foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Place piece of parchment paper over pork, then cover with sheet of aluminum foil, sealing edges to prevent moisture from escaping. Roast pork for 3 hours.

Remove pork from oven; remove and discard foil and parchment. Carefully pour off liquid in bottom of baking sheet into fat separator and reserve for sauce. Return pork to oven and cook, uncovered, until well browned, tender, and internal temperature registers 200 degrees on instant-read thermometer, about 1½ hours. Transfer pork to serving dish, tent loosely with foil, and let rest for 20 minutes.

While pork rests, pour 1/2 cup of defatted cooking liquid from fat separator into medium bowl; whisk in sauce ingredients.

Using 2 forks, shred pork into bite-sized pieces. Toss with 1 cup sauce and season with salt and pepper. Serve, passing remaining sauce separately.

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About the Author

Katherine's role as the Living editor at KCET.org keeps her running from farms to markets to restaurants to pop-up swaps all over SoCal. She's been living in and writing about this area for over a decade.
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