Oven Braised Pulled Pork with Homemade BBQ Sauce
While you can always go with your favorite store bought BBQ sauce, this recipe comes together with things you can probably (I make no promises!) find in your cabinets. My brother and I have successfully smoked pork butts in the “Big Green Egg” at home in New Jersey, but unfortunately I don’t have a smoker in my tiny California apartment, so this recipe is an easier at-home variety. The liquid smoke will help to replicate that smoked flavor and smell. Serve the pork by itself of inside sandwiches, on top of fries or any other ways you can come up with.
Some advice on calculating how much pulled pork you need: I always like having leftover pulled pork to make into other recipes, but sometimes I don’t want to have enough left over so that I will be eating pork for every meal for the next two weeks. When buying pork for pulled pork first know that you are going to end up with roughly half of the weight in the finished meat due to “shrinkage”. The fat will render or you will discard some of the fatty pieces. So for example if you start with six pounds of meat like I have here, you will end up with a little over three pounds of finished meat. I would recommend calculating about three people per pound of the cooked meat for average eaters.
For the pork:
1 (6 pound) boneless pork shoulder or butt
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
½ teaspoon cayenne
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, quartered
2 cups vegetable stock
2 teaspoons liquid smoke (optional)
For the BBQ sauce:
1½ cups ketchup
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
¼ (packed) cup dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons molasses
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dry mustard
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
For the pork:
Preheat the oven to 325º. Position the oven rack in the middle of the oven.
Trim any excess fat off the pork butt and cut it into large hand-sized chunks. In a small bowl whisk together the salt, brown sugar, paprika, garlic powder, mustard and cayenne. Toss the pork in the seasoning.
Heat a 5-quart Dutch oven over medium heat, add the oil and heat through. Sear the pork on all sides, working in batches as to not overcrowd the pan. Add the onion to the pan then add the vegetable stock to the pan. Add the liquid smoke (if using). Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat then cover and put the move the Dutch oven to the oven. Cook the pork until it is fork tender, about 3 hours.
Once the pork is cooked remove it from the pot to a cutting board. Use two forks to shred the meat and add it to a large mixing bowl. Discard any large pieces of fat. Set aside the braising liquid. Add some of the liquid back to the pulled pork if it needs more moisture.
For the BBQ sauce:
Add the ketchup, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire, brown sugar, molasses, mustard, and spices to a medium saucepot over medium heat. Whisk to combine then bring the mixture to a simmer and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has thickened, about 30 minutes. The BBQ sauce can be kept for up to 2 weeks in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Serve the hot pulled pork topped with BBQ sauce. Serve alone or on sandwich rolls topped with coleslaw.