The annoying thing about the pulled pork is that it takes a cool 8 hours to make, but the wonderful things about it are that you can make it ahead of time, it serves a lot of people and it is really, really cheap. Like astonishingly cheap, given that boneless pork shoulder is one of the cheapest meats per kilo. At the moment, Morrisons have it for over 50% off, making it cheaper than their economy mince. The fancy butcher sells it for a bit more, but to be honest this heavily seasoned dish doesn’t require premium meat.
How to serve it? We’ve made it as a standby for a barbecues, so that people have something to start on whilst everything else is cooking. In this case it went with homemade coleslaw and soft white rolls. Six pork shoulders fed 50 people at our housewarming – burrito style, with shreds of pork heaped on top of rice, black beans (with onion, bacon and carrot), cheese, lettuce, sour cream, homemade cherry tomato salsa and homemade guacamole.
Gratifyingly, lots of people have asked for the recipe – at the risk of showing myself up for the lazy hostess I am, here it is in all its easy glory:
I basically used this recipe from the Guardian with a couple of changes:
Recipe: Pulled Pork
1x boneless pork shoulder serves about 8 people, scale up as necessary.
Preheat the oven to 220C
1. if you want to make crackling, score the skin and fat (not through to the meat) and pour boiling water from the kettle over it so that you can see the skin shrink, then pat dry with paper towels
2. Make the spice rub: I used 3 cloves garlic, 2Tbsp table salt, 2Tbsp dark brown sugar, 1Tbsp smoked paprika, 1tsp each of cumin, cayenne pepper, fennel seeds and mustard powder, plus a good grinding of black pepper. Whizz this in a mini food processor with a drizzle of cooking oil to make a thick paste and rub all over the meat (or just chop the garlic and mix in a bowl)
3. Place the pork in an ovenproof dish, ideally one with a lid (I used a cast iron casserole, but a roasting tin double covered with foil would work too. I put a diced onion in the bottom of the tin – it basically melts during cooking to be an extra aromatic, not sure if it would be missed though!
4. Put the uncovered pork in the oven for 45 minutes until browned. Then turn the oven down to 125C, remove the pork and cover the tin (lid or foil) and replace it in the oven and ignore it for another 7 hours. The heat is so low, we’ve cooked it overnight or whilst out…not sure if this is a recommended approach though!
5. Remove the pork and check if it is fork-tender (or if you have a meat thermometer, that it is 89C). it should have a dark carapace but be meltingly soft inside. Peel off the skin, making sure to leave behind any shreds of meat and put to one side. Shred the meat with two forks into soft ribbons, and mix them into the sticky dark juices in the bottom of the tin. Leave for at least a few hours to absorb the juices and relax.
6. If you want to make crackling, heat the grill to high (about 230C) and lay the pork skin over a foil-lined oven sheet. When the grill is hot, put the pork skin in near the top of the oven. Keep a close eye on it – after 3-5 minutes it should have bubbled and blistered on the top. Remove from the oven and let it cool before splintering into spicy barbecue shards.