Pulled pork is probably one of my favorite foods. Ever. BBQ pulled pork, kalua pig, carnitas. All variations on shredded bits of piggy deliciousness.
We recently bought a Traeger smoker for my husband’s birthday. He’d been wanting a smoker for a really long time and when the Traeger guys were at Costco, we couldn’t resist. I had some reservations at first, because these puppies aren’t cheap, but it has turned out to be one of the best purchases ever. We use it all the time! It is seriously so easy to use and the food has come out perfect every time.
OK, moving on because this is not a Traeger infomercial and they aren’t paying me, so name dropping is done!
Anyway, back to the pork. I was walking through Pavilions the other day and noticed they had pork shoulder on sale for .99 a pound. Come on? For real? .99?? I am not one to pass up a great bargain, so despite the fact that I had already meal planned for the week (and pork shoulder was not on it), I bought the last one in the case and took home a 7.34 pound bone-in pork shoulder. I figured we could always freeze it and use it later.
Wrong. As soon as I got home and told my husband I picked up the pork shoulder (for $7!!) his eyes glazed over and he started imagining the pork smoking. So we looked at our schedule and figured Tuesday would be the best day to do it because it takes 9 hours and my husband could be home most of the time that day to tend to it.
I am so glad we didn’t wait. It was so yummy! It was perfectly cooked and the flavor was ridiculous.
We will definitely be making this again!
*note: the measurements in the rub are rough guesses. I didn’t use any measuring utensils. Go with what you like.
1 bone-in pork shoulder (5-7 pounds is good)
1 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons pepper
pinch of cayenne pepper
Mix the ingredients together then rub all over the pork shoulder. A thick coating is good, just make sure it’s really worked in on all side.
Cover and let it sit for at least an hour up to overnight. (We did overnight)
If you’re using a smoker, set it to 225 degrees, put the shoulder on the grill for 3 hours. Then put the pork in an aluminum foil pan and put the pan in the smoker for 5-6 hours. After the first hour, spray the pork with apple juice every hour.
Don’t have a smoker? That’s ok! Use your slow cooker!!
Follow the same instructions for the rub. Put the pork in the slow cooker and add apple juice (about 2 cups or so). Cook on low for 8-10 hours.
After the pork is done (on either the smoker or slow-cooker), set it on a cutting board, cover loosely with foil and let it rest for about 30 minutes. Then take two forks and shred it apart.
Pour some of the juices over the meat and mix it around.
I didn’t add any sauce to the meat. This way I could use the meat for other things. I just added as much bbq sauce as I needed for each individual sandwich.
But Abby, you had 7 pounds of meat. What in God’s name are you planning on doing with 7 pounds of meat?? Well, dear reader, I’m glad you asked. We, of course, made sandwiches, but we also put it to use in other ways:
1. Pork fried rice: saute onions, garlic and whatever veggies you want in coconut oil. Add a beaten egg and mix well until scrambled. Remove from the pan. Add the pork and warm through, crisping up the edges a bit. Add in a little bit of hoisin or teriyaki sauce, just enough to coat the meat. Remove from the pan. Add cooked rice and about a tablespoon of sesame oil. Stir around until warmed through (if using leftover rice) and a bit crispy. Add all the other ingredients back into the pan and mix together. So yummy!
2. Pulled pork pizza: This one was my favorite of the leftovers. I just used store-bought pizza dough (my favorite, the one that always turns out the best, is the Pilsbury one in the pop can). Roll out the dough on a greased baking sheet and top with BBQ sauce, mozzarella cheese, the pulled pork and maple caramelized leeks (thinly sliced both white and light green parts, put a little butter or oil in a pan and let the leeks caramelize for a few minutes. Then add about a 1 tablespoon of real maple syrup, not the fake pancake syrup. Stir together and let simmer until the liquid is mostly evaporated). Bake in the oven according to the directions on the pizza dough package.
3. Sweet potato pork hash: In a skillet with some coconut oil, add a diced onion and cook until soft and just starting to brown. Add a diced sweet potato (smallish pieces) and mix around to coat with the coconut oil. Cover the skillet and let cook, stirring occasionally, until soft. Let the sweet potato get a little browned on the bottom—the caramelization is yummy. Remove from the pan and add the pulled pork, no need to add extra oil. Warm the pork through and let the edges crisp up a bit. Add the potato back in the pan and toss it all together. Make four little wells in the hash and crack an egg into each one. Put in a 400 degree oven for about 5 or so minutes, until the egg is set and yolk is still runny. Or you can be like me and forget about it until the egg is pretty much hard-boiled and then your husband can cook up a couple new eggs on the stove top so you can enjoy the runny yolk complementing the delicious hash. You know, whatever works for you.
4. Pork and apple quesadilla: In a skillet, warm up some pulled pork. Remove from the pan and coat with BBQ sauce. To assemble: thinly slice an apple and lay pieces in a single layer on a tortilla. Next, layer grated cheese (I used cheddar, I’m sure you could use others) and the BBQ pulled pork. Top with the 2nd tortilla. Add a little butter to the skillet so the quesadilla doesn’t stick and cook over medium heat until the tortilla is golden brown and the cheese is melted. Flip and do the same. Should only take a few minutes per side. Serve with extra BBQ sauce. The hubby said this was “stupid delicious” but preferred it without the apples.
There was still about a pound and a half of meat leftover and I needed to take a break, so I froze the rest in ½ pound batches to use later.
Oh boy! This was a long post, so thanks for sticking with me! This was a pretty tasty lesson in pork though, I must say!