If you’ve ever tasted perfect pulled pork, you know just how flavorful and succulent it can be—and you’ll be so happy if you learn to make it yourself!
A couple of weeks ago, I made this over the weekend—putting the pork in the brine Saturday evening and slow roasting it on Sunday. I used it for a bunch of different meals that week. From chilli, tacos, and salads, to grilled cheese sandwiches in my kids’ lunch boxes—everything was a hit with the whole family.
(And please don’t be daunted by the prep and cook times—all but 30 minutes is inactive.)
Keep reading to find out how to make perfect pulled pork!
Recipe for How to Make Perfect Pulled Pork
Let me teach you how to make this recipe that you can use in dishes all week long.
By Valentina Kenney Wein
water: ½ gallon
kosher salt: ½ pound (about ¾ cup)
brown sugar: ½ cup
black peppercorns: ½ cup
whole allspice berries: 2 tablespoons
cinnamon sticks: 5 small
bay leaves: 6
ice: 3 cups
Boston butt (pork shoulder): 1 (approximately 4 pounds)
ground cumin, ground oregano, smoked paprika, and brown sugar: 2 tablespoons of each
garlic powder: 1 tablespoon
cayenne pepper: ¼ teaspoon
To make the brine:
Step 1: In a medium-sized stock pot, bring the water to a boil with the salt and sugar. Stir once it's boiling to be sure all of the salt and sugar has dissolved.Now turn the heat to low and add all of the spices (the next four ingredients).
Step 2: Turn off the heat and let the brine cool completely---to room temperature or cooler. (With a large quantity of liquid, cooling could take a while.)
Step 3: Once the brine has cooled, place the pork in a large container, making sure it will be big enough that it won't overflow once you add the ice and the brine.
Step 4: Add the ice to the container with the pork and carefully pour the brine over it. Cover the container with the lid (if there is one) or plastic wrap. Either way, make sure the meat is completely submerged in the brine and that it's sealed tightly. Place the container in the refrigerator for approximately 12 to 18 hours.
To make the rub:
Step 5: Mix all of the spice rub ingredients together in a small bowl. Be sure they are well blended and set aside.
Step 6: When you're ready to remove the meat from the brine, preheat the oven to 250 degrees F and adjust a rack to the center. Remove the meat---leaving all of the spices behind---and place it in a roasting pan that's big enough so there are at least a few inches of room all around it. Pat the meat dry with a paper towel. (If the fat is really excessive, you can trim some off at this point---but leave at least a thin layer.)
Step 7: Now add the spice rub to the entire surface, using your hands to "rub" it in to be sure it adheres---all of the sides should be well coated, and the fat side should be facing up in the pan.
Step 8: Place the pan in the 250 degree oven and slow roast the meat for approximately two hours per pound. When it's done the internal temperature should be about 190 degrees F, and it should easily "pull" apart. If it doesn't, return it to the oven until it reaches this point. (If the surface of the pork is becoming too dark during the cooking process, lightly cover with foil.)
Step 9: Once you remove the pork from the oven, loosely cover with foil and let it rest for about an hour.
Step 10: Then place it on a large, clean work surface. Gently lift and remove any large pieces of crusted fat on the top. Now "pull" the meat apart with your hands. It should fall apart very easily.