Easy prep pulled pork
This post is special to me because it's my signature dish. This recipe is an update of another recipe. It follows the same principles behind my 8-hour bbq sauce and the process has been streamlined to require very little work. You can use the same cooking time and temperature for 4lbs or 40lbs! Recently, it's been used for various home worship groups this summer at Gracepoint Fellowship Church and as far as I know it produced good results with ease everytime.
- Prep time: 20 minutes
- Cook time: 8 hrs
- Difficulty: Easy
- Labor Intensity: Could do by yourself, would help to have some people to help shred meat.
- 30 servings, adjust by 1.5x if your group tends to eat multiple servings.
- 15-18 lb Pork shoulder/country style ribs/pork butt (all the same cut with different names) [$1-$1.49/lb on sale at safeway, Costco is a good source]
- 3 cups brown sugar
- 8 cups BBQ sauce [I STRONGLY RECOMMEND "Cattlemen smoky", $10 for a 2-pack at costco]
- 1/4 cup tabasco or other hot sauce (add to taste, optional) (I personally use 3 tablespoons Korean red pepper paste)
- 48 Buns [12 pack for $2 at smart and final or costco, I think costco quality is a bit higher] or you can use 60 slices of white bread (4-5 loaves of bread)
- Total: about $45.00
- If meat is a large pork shoulder roast, cut into 4-8 pieces. Each piece should be no taller than 4 inches. I would make softball size cuts.
- Put meat in aluminum tray and pour sauce over meat. Rather than a large roast, it should be many smaller pieces 1/2 submerged in sauce.
- *I would double stack the tray - they tend to bend and spill
- Turn the oven to 275F and place in oven at midnight.
- Take out of oven around 8 am.
- Transfer meat to another tray and pour liquid into a large stockpot.
- Add brown sugar (and hot sauce) to the stock pot and heat on med-high.
- With 2 forks tear meat to large, coarse pieces (should be about 1/2-1 inch thick like picture above)
- *don't over shred meat, it will shred even more when mixing with sauce and you get fine shreds that feel like mush.
- *you can slice the meat into 1/8 inch slices instead for better texture.
- Turn off stove when sauce is sufficiently thick (I usually cook for about 30-45 mins, stop when it is original thickness of the sauce). Stir occasionally to prevent burning on the bottom. Add more sugar to taste. (up to 1-2 cups more)
- Skim off oil from the top of the sauce and discard. It's easier to do it at the end when the sauce is thicker.
- Mix meat and sauce and serve. You can cover with foil and place in 170F oven for a few hours until ready to serve.
Tom's Tips and Tricks_______________
It's important that the meat is surrounded by liquid (it's the medium through which heat transfers - dry heat vs moist heat). During the cooking process about 25-30% of the water leaves the meat (average cooking loss). This means about 4-5lbs or about 8-10 cups of water ( broth, collagen/gelatin) which end up in the sauce. By boiling it off, you regain the original thickness with the pork flavor conserved in the sauce.
DO NOT USE BULLS EYE OR SUGAR BASED SAUCE. This recipe is centered around a vinegar based sauce. Cattlemen is one of the few vinegar based sauces that works with this technique. I may soon post another entry on how to use sugar based sauces (Kansas City style BBQ sauces)
DO NOT ADD SUGAR TO SAUCE BEFORE GOING IN THE OVEN. The sugar raises the solute concentration and the resulting osmotic pressure forces more water out of the meat, making it dry. That's why sugar is added after the meat is taken out.
Don't over shred meat, when you mix around the sauce it tends to fall apart more. Keep it coarse and do more shredding just prior to serving if necessary. I actually recommend slicing the meat instead.
If the meat is not tender after 8 hours, raise the oven to 400F and cook for up to 1 hour or so (should not be necessary).
You can use bone in or boneless pork shoulder. They both work equally well for this dish
If you have the stovetop space, I usually pour the liquid to 2-3 pots and have them both on med-high to high. This way you utilize the heat from 2 burners and it should drastically reduce the time to reduce the liquid.
Be careful when taking out the tray! I have splattered sauce on myself too many times to count. Hold the tray by the bottom or ladle the liquid into the stockpot
[Possible side dish] chicken salad, corn bread, potato wedges
One lesson learned is using two aluminum trays instead of one. It makes taking the trays out of the oven a lot safer since it's stabler.