I love pulled pork. There’s nothing quite like the taste of pork slow cooked and then covered in a barbecue sauce. I have made pulled pork before and posted the recipe here, but that recipe is for outdoor cooking. The weather here has been so hit and miss this week with rain that I decided to make one completely indoors and without the slow cooker being involved. This recipe, from America’s Test Kitchen, makes a great rub for the pork so you get great barks and the sauce is perfect.
Indoor Pulled Pork with Sweet and Tangy Barbecue Sauce
1 cup plus 2 teaspoons table salt
1/2 cup plus two tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons liquid smoke
1 boneless pork butt (about 5 pounds), cut in half horizontally
1/4 cup yellow mustard
2 tablespoons ground black pepper
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 cups ketchup
1/4 cup light or mild molasses
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
For the pork: Dissolve 1 cup of salt, 1/2 cup of sugar, and 3 tablespoons of liquid smoke in 4 quarts of cold water in a large container. Submerge the pork in the brine, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 2 hours.
While the pork brines, combine mustard and the remaining 2 teaspoons of liquid smoke in a small bowl; set aside. Combine the black pepper, paprika, the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, remaining two teaspoons of salt and cayenne pepper in a second small bowl; set aside. Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees.
Remove the pork from the brine and dry thoroughly with paper towels. Rub the mustard mixture over the entire surface of each piece of pork. Sprinkle the entire surface of each piece with the spice mixture. Place the pork on a wire rack set inside a foil lined rimmed baking sheet. Place a piece of parchment paper over the pork, then cover with a sheet of aluminum foil, sealing the edges to prevent moisture from escaping. Roast the pork for 3 hours.
Remove the pork from the oven; remove and discard the foil and parchment paper. Carefully pour off the liquid in the bottom of the baking sheet into a fat separator and reserve it for the sauce. Return the pork to the oven and cook, uncovered, until well browned, tender and the internal temperature registers 200 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 1 1/2 hours. Transfer the pork to a serving dish, tent loosely with foil, and allow it to rest for 20 minutes.
While the pork rests, pour 1/2 cup of the defatted cooking liquid from the fat separator into a medium bowl. Whisk in all the sauce ingredients.
Using 2 forks, shred the pork into bite size pieces. Toss with 1 cup of the sauce and season with salt and pepper. Serve, passing the remaining sauce separately.
If you can’t find smoked paprika, sweet paprika will work just fine here. Using the parchment paper will help prevent the mustard from eating holes in the foil (it is acidic). I served the pork on plain hamburger buns with some pickle chips and sliced red onion. You could always use any store-bought barbecue sauce for the sauce if you prefer or don’t want to go through the work of making your own. The leftovers, of course are great for sandwiches the next day or even for pulled pork nachos (which are very tasty, by the way).
There are several side dishes you could do with this meal. Cole slaw, of course, is a great addition. You could also add some baked beans to the side as well. I came across a recipe this morning by Guy Fieri for mashed root vegetables that Michelle and I both liked, so I went with that one.
Creamy Mashed Root Vegetables
5 cups milk
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons salt, plus more for seasoning
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
2 pounds turnips
2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes
3 tablespoons butter, cut into cubes
Freshly ground black pepper
Set a large pot over high heat and add the milk, cream, salt, thyme and bay leaves. Peel and cut the turnips into 1-inch chunks. Add the turnips to the pot and cover partially with a lid. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook the turnips for 30 minutes.
Cut the potatoes into 1-inch chunks. After the turnips have cooked for 30 minutes (turnips take a lot longer to cook than potatoes), add the potatoes and continue to simmer until all the vegetables are very tender, about 20 more minutes. Discard the bay leaves and thyme. Drain the potatoes and turnips, reserving 2 cups of cooking liquid, and then mash. Add the cooking liquid and the butter. Mix well and season with salt and pepper.
You can play with this recipe a bit and add or subtract things as you wish. You could use other root vegetables, like carrots, parsnips or sweet potatoes, instead of or with the turnips or potatoes. I like the idea of cooking with the milk and cream to add some texture to the vegetables and they mix really well when you are mashing.
Some good eating for today, and I did get a few things to make for this week, like some chicken (a whole one and some boneless breasts), a skirt steak (it was a really good sale on these this week) and some ground beef, so we’ll see what I make this week. Sean starts his cooking class this week so I think he’ll be helping in the kitchen with some things, so we’ll see what we can come up with. Check back to see what we cook. Enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!