This is the heart of the BBQ experience in the South. The ribs are fine in Memphis, the roast is fine in Dallas, but the pulled pork in places such as Big Bob Gibson's in Decatur, AL is the essence of the BBQ experience. Pulled pork simply means that you do not serve the pork as slabs of meat: You chop the meat up so that it can savor every delectable bit of the BBQ sauce, which obviously is what separates one BBQ joint from another. It is normally served with baked beans, cole slaw and white bread.

Just as an FYI - pulled pork is closer to being shredded than it is to being chopped. The pork is marinated and literally pulled from the bone with a scraping action (you can do it at home with a fork), creating long tendrils of meat. This is often done with beef or chicken for traditional burritos. It keeps the meat exceptionally juicy (not to mention completely infused with barbecue sauce or whatever other spicy stuff you like) and is wonderful in a sandwich.

In the Detroit area, pulled pork is the specialty at Memphis Smoke in Royal Oak.

Pulled pork is one of those wonderful dishes that will make you an instant hit at virtually any occasion you happen to bring it to. You can make tons of it with a very minimal set of ingredients, and there's lots of room for personal taste and variation. Depending on what method you use to slowcook the pork, you may not spend more than 20 minutes actually doing something with it; the rest of the time is spent waiting for things to cook.

The basic plan is to take a large, cheap cut of pork such as Boston butt or pork shoulder and cook it for a long, long time, like you would a pot roast, so that the meat falls apart when you so much as look at it. Then you shred it, toss it with some barbeque sauce, put it in a shallow pan or cookie sheet, and stick it under your broiler for a little bit to develop a nice glaze. And then you eat way too much of it. I prefer to use a crock pot for my pork shoulder, but there's nothing wrong with your preferred method of slow cooking as long as you get tender results.

This is the easiest recipe I've tried, and everyone else who's tried it reports solid results. There's plenty of room for experimentation, but if this is your first attempt, I suggest sticking with what's here before trying something else.

    Procedure:
  1. Peel and quarter the onion and put it in the bottom of your crock pot.
  2. Score the roast gently with a sharp knife and rub it in Worcestershire sauce until coated.
  3. Put the roast in on top of the onion so it's not touching any of the pot (if possible).
  4. Pack it with brown sugar until you can't see the roast any more.
  5. Pour the vinegar right on top of the roast.
  6. Pour more Worcestershire sauce on top, around 1/4 - 1/2 cup (60 - 125 ml) or so.
  7. Put the lid on and cook it on Low (about 170°F, 75°C) for eight hours.
    • The exact time is pretty flexible by an hour or two in either direction; if you have to let it stay put for even longer, don't worry too much. You'll know it's done when you go to lift it out and it falls apart.
  8. About halfway through, flip the roast over. If you forget this part, don't worry about it.
  9. Resist the temptation to open the lid and smell it. This is harder than it sounds.
  10. Lift out the roast and put it in a wide, shallow pan, like a cake pan or cookie sheet.
  11. Using a couple of forks, shred the roast into pieces, discarding any cartilage or bones.

At this point, you could add salt and pepper to taste and just eat it right there. It'll be pretty good, but not necessarily anything to write home about. If you want really fantastic pulled pork, the kind that wins you the adulation of your peers and gratuitous pledges of sex from strangers, there's a few more steps to take. If you go this route, don't add salt and pepper yet, or you might make all of it too salty.

  1. Pour the remaining juice through a colander or sieve into a sauce pan, discarding the onion and any other large bits of solid stuff.
  2. Bring it to a simmer, spooning off the oily stuff on top.
  3. Add the ketchup and liquid smoke, stirring until it returns to a simmer.
  4. Mix the cornstarch into cold water, then slowly mix it into the juices, stirring constantly.
  5. Bring the sauce back up to a simmer and stir occasionally until it reaches the consistency you want.
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Heat up your broiler.
  8. Take about a cup of the sauce and sprinkle it over the pulled pork, then toss it with your forks to make sure everything's covered.
  9. Stick the pork under your broiler for about ten minutes. When you take it out, the sauce should have formed a glaze on everything and the pork itself should have become noticeably darker. The little ends and whatnot should be dark brown, almost black.
  10. Serve on crusty rolls or buns (kaisers or sourdough are great) with some coleslaw and more of the sauce on top.

It helps to have someone to assist with the shredding and the saucemaking; often, I start cooking down the sauce while my girlfriend shreds the roast. If you've done a good job cooking the roast it shouldn't take a lot of effort to shred the whole thing. If you prefer you can use a regular barbeque sauce instead of cooking down the juice.

As I mentioned earlier, there's tons of room for experimentation with this. For example, last time I made this, I packed the roast with a spicy dry rub, diced the onion, and added white vinegar, mirin, garlic, oregano, and thyme to the pot. If you wanted an even easier option you could coat the roast with a cup or so of teriyaki or barbeque sauce and add another cup or two to the pot before you start cooking it. If you wanted a crazy asskick variation, adding some diced jalapeƱos, chipotles, habaneros, or other hot peppers would work well. Try it in sandwiches with cheese and pickles! Use it in your next batch of chili! Toss a couple spoonfuls into your omelet! Make some dip with sour cream, shredded cheese, refried beans, and serve with tortilla chips! It's very versatile stuff.

Recipe courtesy of Drchipotle on the Goons With Spoons wiki. Thanks to Clockmaker for some of the conversions.

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