“Carolina-Style” Pulled Pork

I’ve been making pulled pork for years now.  All you need is a nice piece of pork and a little time to spare.  Sounds simple, right?  Well, it can be.  Many BBQ enthusiasts will spend an entire day cooking their pork and making sauce that even family members are sworn to secrecy over.  A while back, I watched a friend make his family recipe Carolina BBQ sauce.  He wouldn’t let me know any of the ratios, but since I bought the ingredients, at least I knew what went in the secret sauce.  I’ve played around with it for years, and now here is my take on Carolina pulled pork.  (Carolina-style is mustard and vinegar based.  If you don’t like either of those flavors skip the sauce recipe).

IMHO, this is a really easy recipe.  The trickiest part is trimming the pork, which you can have your local butcher do for you.  For this particular post, I chose to use pernil, which is generally from the hind legs of a pig.  I used to buy this meat deboned in South America and it has an amazing flavor and not too much fat.  It’s great just by itself on the grill, and lends itself perfectly to braising, which is where this particular pernil is destined.  Depending on where you live this will be called something else.  Often I’ve seen it labeled as “fresh ham” in gringo markets.  The reality is that you can use just about any pork roast you like, though cooking time will vary and fat content will change.

For the Pork  

5 Pound Pork Roast

1 Can/Bottle Beer (12 ounces, nothing fancy)

2 Tbsp Vegetable Oil

For the Sauce

2 Cups (16 Ounces) White Vinegar

2 Tbsp Yellow Mustard, (cheap American variety)

2 Tbsp Ketchup

1 Tbsp Red Pepper Flakes (adjust for your own level of picante)

2 Tbsp Agave Nectar (you can substitute sugar, probably 3 Tbsp)

Start by trimming excess fat and skin from the pork.  I then remove any bones with a sharp knife.  The meat sort of unwraps itself from the bone when you make small slices against it.  I try to remove any “shiny” patches from the meat, as this is tendon and can be tough.  When all this is done you have a large piece or pieces of porky goodness.  Heat a large pot with the vegetable oil and lightly brown the pork on both sides.  Pour the beer over the meat and reduce the heat to a low simmer.  Put the lid on the pot and go do something else for about 2 hours.  Check back periodically to make sure the liquid has not evaporated.  Check the pork with a fork or tongs, it should just fall apart.  Drain off all liquid and “pull” the pork apart.  Done.

In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients and allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  This can be quite potent, so make sure you have some ventilation.  Pour directly over the pork and serve hot.

Even after the bone, skin, and excess fat are removed, you should still have a few pounds of pulled pork.  I always cook more than I need to so this is a great dish for the week.  I’ll keep the pork and sauce separate until I heat it again.  Typical sides are coleslaw, baked beans, cornbread, etc.  Some suggestions for leftovers: amazing as pulled pork tacos or nachos, add to a salad, obviously the pulled pork sandwich, empanadas, serve over rice and beans, the sky is the limit.  Cheers.


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