Updated: Jul 1, 2020
Baked in the oven while you sleep so you can dream about it all night long.
Pulled pork is so delicious. Tender, juicy and full of flavor, pulled pork is an American classic. There are many ways to make a superb pulled pork, most authentically by smoking a pork butt or shoulder. No matter how you do it, it's a two-day process, beginning with a spice rub and ending, in my opinion, with a mop sauce. This recipe instructs on how to cook the pork effortlessly in your oven, overnight while you sleep. The first day you season and marinate the meat (ideally overnight), and the second day you cook the pork "slow-and-low" while you sleep. Then you pull it apart and mop it with a puckery vinegar-mustard Carolina-style mop sauce. Like I said, pulled pork is SO delicious!
Equipment: cutting board; chef’s knife; paring knife dry and wet measuring cups; measuring spoons; mixing bowl; spoon; rimmed sheet pan; plastic wrap; aluminum foil; stock pot or Dutch oven; large metal or wooden spoon; tongs; latex gloves (optional)
Pork & Spice Rub Ingredients:
1, 5-7 pound pork butt/shoulder*
½ cup brown sugar (light or dark)
½ cup sweet paprika 1/3 cup garlic powder ¼ cup kosher salt 2 tablespoons ancho chili powder 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper 1 tablespoon ground black pepper 2 teaspoons dried oregano 2 teaspoons ground cumin
Mop Sauce Ingredients: 4 cups apple cider 1/3 cup honey
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup molasses
¼ cup cider vinegar
3 tablespoons yellow mustard
2 tablespoons liquid smoke
1 tablespoon (3 cloves) minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
kosher salt and ground black pepper
* the pork butt/shoulder can be bone-in, but need not be. Whether or not your butcher has removed the bone, the cooking time is the same: while you sleep.
ILOC tip: to get the maximum benefit of marinating the pork in a spice rub, prepare the pork the night before you plan to cook it in the oven. Wrap it in plastic wrap and store it for 24 hours. Alternatively, you could rub it first thing in the morning on the day you plan to cook it overnight so that you still get 14+ hours of marinating time. In other words, if you want to eat the pork on Saturday for lunch or dinner, you should rub it and wrap it on Thursday night. But you could get away with doing it Friday morning and not sacrifice on flavor or texture. Technique, not torture!
1. First prepare the spice rub by combining all of the ingredients in a bowl. Set aside.
2. Next prepare a rimmed sheet with plastic wrap before you coat the pork in the spices. Place one long piece of plastic wrap across the pan, and then place another long piece overlapping and perpendicular to the first piece so that you have a cross.
3. Lift the pork onto the center of the plastic wrap where the two pieces overlap. Pack the spice rub generously all over the pork, top to bottom and side to side, covering every inch of exposed flesh and fat. Wrap the pork tightly in the plastic wrap and then tear two more sheets of plastic wrap to tightly pack the pork.
4. Place the rubbed and wrapped pork on a rimmed sheet pan or in a baking dish to catch any potential liquid that might emerge as the pork marinates. Place in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
5. Remove the pork from the refrigerator two hours before you plan to cook it. Place two long tears of aluminum foil on a rimmed sheet pan in the same overlapping manner as you did the plastic wrap. Preheat the oven to 250°F.
6. Unwrap the pork and lift it onto the center of the foil where the two pieces overlap. Wrap the pork tightly in the foil and then tear two more sheets of foil to tightly pack the pork. Using a paring knife, stab through the foil on the top of the pork about a dozen times to make little steam vents.
7. Place the pork in the oven right before you go to bed. After a minimum of 5 hours up to 8 hours, remove the pan from the oven. Let the pork rest, covered in foil, for an hour before removing the foil.
8. Meanwhile, prepare the mop sauce. In a stockpot or Dutch oven, combine all of the mop sauce ingredients and warm over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally to help incorporate the yellow mustard. Once simmering, turn the heat to low and continue cooking and stirring until the mustard has dissolved. Turn off the heat until the pork is added.
9. Once the pork is cool enough to handle, pull it by tearing the meat into shreds and chunks, removing excess fat and cartilege. Discard the fat and cartilege along with the drippings in the pan.
ILOC tip: wear latex gloves to pull the pork, if you like.
10. Add the pulled pork to the mop sauce and stir well to coat. Heat over medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes until warmed and simmering.
Store the extra pulled pork in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week, or in the freezer for up to three months.
Makes 16-24 servings.