This is a really simple recipe, but it takes two special tools that you may not have.
- An in-oven thermometer like this one
We have been buying our Pork Butts (also known as Pork Shoulder) at Sam’s Club. There are two in a package and weigh 5-7 pounds each. For our family we cook one at a time and we get quite a few meals out of it. One of my favorites is to reheat a couple ounces of pork in a skillet with a couple of eggs for breakfast.
The first thing you are going to do is brine your pork shoulder at least overnight. Mix 2 quarts of cold water, 1/2 cup salt, 2 bay leaves and 3 tbsp of your dry rub mix (recipe to follow). Drop in your pork shoulder, and add a bit more water if it’s not totally submersed in the brine solution. Pop on the lid and stick it in the fridge.
When you are ready to cook:
Preheat the oven to 225 degrees. While it is heating up remove the pork shoulder from the brine solution, rinse in cold water, then pat dry with a towel. Put fat side down in a large roasting pan. A lot of fat will render out of the pork, so you need room in the pan to accommodate. Reserve 3 tbsp of your dry rub, and use the rest to completely coat the pork (yes, you actually do rub it lovingly onto the meat so it sticks). You start on the bottom, coat the sides, and end with the fat cap up to roast.
Insert the probe from the thermometer into the center of the thickest portion of the shoulder, being careful not to touch bone, as that will throw off the reading. Put the shoulder into the oven, and set the alarm on the thermometer to go off when it reaches 200 degrees.
Now comes the patience part. 🙂
Depending on the weight of the shoulder it can take up to 8 hours or more for the internal temp to reach 200 degrees. When we cook two at a time it can take 10-12 hours or more. You don’t have to do anything, you just have to wait. You also need to start pretty early in the morning. 🙂
When the internal temperature reaches 200 degrees (we are talking Fahrenheit here) turn the oven off and let the internal temperature cool to 170 degrees. This can take an additional 2 to 3 hours or more. When it hits 170 it is ready to pull!
When I pull the shoulder I take out another roasting pan, grab a couple forks, and get to work. If you were patient and followed the directions the meat should fall off the bone. Use the forks to shred completely, then mix in the reserved spice rub and try not to eat it all at once!
Many cooks remove the fat cap off the top before shredding. If you want to reduce the amount of fat that is the way to go. I usually don’t, but do what feels right to you.
I probably made this sound more complicated than it really is. The rub takes less than 10 minutes to make. The brine process even less time. For our summer party I spent 10 minutes getting the shoulder into the fridge Thursday night, got up a few minutes early Friday morning before I drove into the 5:00am class to stick it into the oven, and pulled it at about 7:30 Friday night. Actual hands on time was somewhere in the 30-45 minute range, including putting it into containers and refrigerating for the next day.
Does it take some patience? Absolutely.
Is it worth it? Well y’all begged me to put up the recipe, so I think we know the answer to that as well! 🙂
Promise me one thing though, don’t ruin it by putting some yucky commercial barbecue sauce on it. That is practically blasphemy! Eat it as is or make yourself one of these two great sauces:
Pulled Pork Mustard Sauce (Nancy’s Favorite)
- 1 cup prepared yellow mustard
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon cayenne
Mix all ingredients together and simmer over a low heat for 30 minutes. If your making this sauce for a whole hog multiple the ingredients by about 8. Makes about 2 cups
Southern Vinegar Sauce for Pulled Pork (Dean’s Favorite)
- 1 cup butter
- 1/2 cup vinegar
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 5 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
Melt margarine in a sauce pan. Add lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, honey, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Stir in vinegar and allow to cool. Makes about 1 1/2 cups
Coach Dean’s Dry Rub Recipe
As promised here is the dry rub recipe I use. Ingredient amount listed are for one shoulder, so if you are cooking two just double it and you will have plenty.
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp onion powder
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tbsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 tbsp ground pepper
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 1/4 brown sugar
Note: not being a big fan of sugar, I tried the rub without it, and it’s just too spicy for my (and the kids) taste. You don’t need a lot of brown sugar, but it does take the edge off and creates a great flavor.
Let me know how it turns out for you!