Pulled pork might take days to make but all the action takes place while you sleep. This past weekend I was part of a tailgating event for the last home football game of the season at my alma mater, Colgate University. On Saturday, the school featured me cooking tailgate food with a twist, and sold my two books alongside the free tasty fare: cider braised pulled pork sliders with apple slaw, and chicken satay skewers with coconut lemongrass sauce.
The event might have taken place Saturday, but the prep work began Thursday when I coated the pork butt (that’s really pork shoulder) in a spice rub of paprika, brown sugar, garlic and onion powders, chili powder, cayenne and white pepper, salt, and oregano. The heavily seasoned meat was wrapped tightly in plastic, then in aluminum foil. It sat for 24 hours in the refrigerator to cure.
The next day, I removed from the refrigerator the seasoned meat, now glistening a deep, glossy red from the paprika and sugar spice rub, and placed it on a rimmed sheet pan. It then went in a preheated 250F oven overnight. While I slept, the meat cooked, rendering its fat and loosening itself from the bone. When I awoke, the smells of barbecue permeated the house. I had cooked another pulled pork in my sleep! Now all that was left was a quick braise to make the “sauce.”
I love Texas barbecue, but only for brisket and sausage links. When it comes to pulled pork, I want it Carolina style with a vinegar/mustard based sauce. After 8 hours in the oven, the pork was juicy and tender to the bone. I let it cool a bit while I warmed half a gallon of apple cider in a large pot with yellow mustard, honey, molasses, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, cider vinegar, and liquid smoke (no other choice for a city girl who wants to impart that smokey flavor to the meat). I effortlessly pulled the pork off the bone and placed it in the warm cider braising liquid. I let the meat and juice mixture simmer for an hour before packing up and taking it upstate to Colgate.
The lesson: it is so easy to make pulled pork you can do it in your sleep!