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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Pulled Pork

I'm a long-time fan of pulled pork. It's my favorite form of southern barbecue, with brisket a close second. I've attended a lot of gatherings where pulled pork is served. Sometimes the juiciness of the slow-roasted meat is overshadowed by the fact that it's drenched in bottled barbecue sauce.

Aside from basic cooking method (low and slow), there are two keys to great pulled pork: a great rub and the perfect sauce. This rub creates a spicy crust on the meat after you roast it all day. The sauce is sweet but understated. For me, it's the perfect combo.

Pulled Pork
1 3-4 pound pork butt roast (also known as shoulder roast or Boston butt)

For the rub:
1/4 cup black pepper
1/4 cup paprika
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 Tablespoons salt
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 teaspoon cayenne

Mix ingredients together. This makes at least twice as much as you'll need for one roast. I keep some in the cupboard in an airtight container to save the work of re-creating the rub each time.

Rub pork with mixture the night before you intend to serve it. Store in a gallon plastic bag over night. In the morning, leave roast at room temperature for two hours and then re-rub. Place the meat in a 250-degree oven for 7 to 8 hours (internal temperature should be between 195 and 200 when done). Your house will smell great all afternoon, by the way. Cook meat until it is tender and falls apart easily.

For the sauce:
4 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup finely diced plum tomatoes
3 Tablespoons finely chopped onions (red are best)
2 Tablespoons pitted dates, minced
2 large cloves garlic, minced

Combine ingredients in a non-reactive saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer until it reduces to 1 1/2 cups (this will take a couple of hours). Stir occasionally.

To serve:
Shred meat and place in a large bowl. Pour sauce in gradually; coat but don't drown. We like to serve it on crusty rolls or buns. It can also be served on tortillas.

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