An Epic Meal: Slow Roasted Pulled Pork

Last Saturday, we had perhaps my best home-cooked meal of 2009 thus far…a meal that was epic in its preparation, requiring 9 hours in the oven, but well worth heating up the kitchen all day. The meal was a low and slow-roasted pork shoulder, lovingly coated in BBQ spices, shredded and served on (my first!) homeade corn tortillas, with a red cabbage coleslaw, homeade salsa and some of our favorite “green bag” tortilla chips. It was an awesome meal.

When I began to ponder how I wanted to prepare the pork shoulder that was in the freezer, I had really planned to do a Rick Bayless chile braised shoulder, but then I had the fortune of catching a re-run of a Bobby Flay Pulled-Pork Throwdown on the Food Network. After 30 minutes of watching pro pitmasters, I wanted some BBQ of my own! So, the plan changed, and I coated the meat in the spice rub Friday night, to let it rest in the fridge and soak up those flavors overnight.

I was up early Saturday morning to get the roast in the oven for the 9 hours of roasting. By 11am, the house smelled like a good smokehouse, and it was probably a good thing that we spent most of the afternoon outside on our bikes, so I didn’t have to salivate all afternoon smelling the wonderful BBQ roasting in the oven.

The finished pork shoulder was deep black and very crusty, but when I took a fork to it, it was pink and perfectly tender and moist inside. When shredded, with the crust of the meat folded in, it was hard to stop snitching pieces of pork while we waited for our dinner guests to arrive.

At the last minute, I whipped up a fresh batch of my homeade BBQ sauce to drizzle over the tacos, which was a perfect match. I also made my very first homeade tortillas for the meal, and with encouragement from Emily, as well as our friends who joined us for the meal, I knocked out a successful batch of tortillas, and they were far better even than the excellent locally made tortillas we usually buy. Homeade tortillas are a thing of beauty – bursting with fresh roasty corn flavor and chewier texture, which holds up nicely in a taco. If you’re looking for an easy, slow cookin’ kind of meal, give this one a try!

Slow Roasted Pulled Pork
Adapted from
My Husband Cooks
Serves 8

3.5 lbs. pork shoulder (bone in)
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup kosher salt
1 T chili powder
1 T cumin
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1 T smoked paprika

Recipe for my BBQ sauce

  1. To make the rub, thoroughly mix together the brown sugar, salt, smoked paprika, chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, red pepper flakes and cayenne.
  2. Pat dry the pork shoulder and then liberally apply the rub to all sides. Place in a leak-proof container. Cover and refrigerate for as long as 24 hours, or as little as overnight. It will give up a cup or more of liquid so make sure your container is big enough to prevent spillage.
  3. Remove the shoulder from refrigerator, brush off any excess or caked on rub. Move to a clean roasting pan with the fat side up.
  4. Heat the oven to 275F. Place in the oven and let roast for 7 hours. Yes, I’m serious about it taking that long. After about 3 hours, there will be enough fat rendered to allow you to baste the shoulder every 1 to 2 hours. With a large spoon simply pour the rendered fat over the shoulder. (The roast will be fully cooked after about 3.5 hours, so if you want to cut the cooking short, you can take it out, it will be completely delicious, just not quite to fall-apart pulled pork stage. We make it both ways, depending on how much time we have.)
  5. You will know it’s ready because the outside of the shoulder is extremely dark, nearly burned looking. The pork should pull easily from the bone and the fat/skin on the top should be nearly crispy.
  6. Remove from the oven and let rest for at least 30 min. Using a pair of forks or very clean hands pull the pork away from the bone. This should be very easy to do.
  7. Serve with homeade tortillas and topped with homeade BBQ sauce.

BBQ Pan Roasted Pork Chops

When I made the BBQ sauce the other night, what I really had in mind was using the sauce this evening on some perfectly cooked rib chops. You’ll want chops that are about 1″ thick for this recipe – skinny chops need not apply! 🙂

The recipe below looks a bit fussy, but the chops really come together in not much time at all, so give it a shot! I do a quick brine with the chops, which seems a bit fancy, but it really just helps season the chops, and it only takes a half-hour, so why not, right?!

And, I’m going to subject you to a few more photos than usual on this one, because the chops we received from our CSA were just so gorgeous. And the chops tasted every bit as good they look, I assure you.

1/3 cup kosher salt
2 quarts cold water

Pour the water and salt into a large bowl, stir until salt dissolves. Rinse chops, and place them in the brine, place chops & brine into the fridge for a half hour. After a half hour, remove the chops from the brine, pat dry and set aside.

Spice Rub (for 2 chops)
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp brown sugar

Mix spices and sugar in a small bowl. Sprinkle over both sides of the chops and gently press into meat. (see below)

Cooking the chops
1 T vegetable oil
Homeade BBQ sauce

  1. Heat a large, nonstick pan over medium heat. When the pan is heated, add 1/2 T vegetable oil and swirl around the pan. Gently lay the chops into the pan, and cook for 5 minutes. Flip, and cook for another 4 minutes, or until a meat thermometer registers 130 degrees.
  2. Remove chops from a pan, and set aside for a moment. Wipe out pan, return to heat, and add remaining 1/2 T oil.
  3. Brush one side of the chops with a thin schmear of BBQ sauce. Place the chops sauce-side down into the pan, and cook for 1 minute, meanwhile, brush the top of the chops with BBQ. After 1 minute, turn the chops, cook one more minute, until the chops register 140 degrees. Remove the chops from the pan, set aside, and tent plate loosely with tinfoil, and let chops rest for 5 minutes. Then, serve, and by all means, drizzle a bit more homeade BBQ sauce over the chops!

Roasted Sweets with Homeade BBQ

It’s snowing like crazy outside this evening…probably 5 inches on the ground already, and it doesn’t look like it is slowing down anytime soon. Nights like tonight make me long for being a student, desperately hoping for a snow day, so we could sleep in, and then go out and play in it. Unfortunately, there’s no such luck in the world of grown-up jobs and paying the mortgage.

I did go out and play in the snow with the dog when I got home this evening. Turbo *loves* the fresh snow, and leaps through drifts, kicking and spinning, and inevitably slamming into me with his rump on the backside of a good twirl. That’s how I know he’s a happy dog – when the rump-bumping starts. We enjoyed a good romp through the empty, snowy streets before returning home to think about dinner.

I knew I wanted something warm and comforting, and given the snow situation on the roads, I knew Mark would not make it home in time to dine. I wanted a simple dinner, and sweet potatoes seemed the perfect fit. Roasted sweets, with slightly crisp edges, and meltingly soft inside make a perfectly good meal in my book. Add a little homeade BBQ sauce – bliss.

BBQ Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Serves 2

5 Weight Watchers Points per serving of potatoes

1 WW point per 2T of BBQ sauce

BBQ Sauce
1 T smoked paprika
2 T brown sugar
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 cup ketchup
3 T light molasses
2 T grated onion
2 T Worcestershire sauce
1 T Dijon mustard
1 T stone ground mustard
1 T cider vinegar

Mix above ingredients in a 2-cup storage container. Voila! You now have BBQ sauce! Sauce will keep for a couple of months in the fridge.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes
2 large sweet potatoes
1 T vegetable oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp kosher salt

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Peel sweet potatoes, and cut in 1/2 inch rounds, then place in a large bowl. Pour oil over potatoes, then toss to lightly coat. Add garlic, pepper, cumin and salt, and toss again to distribute spices evenly.
  2. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil, and spray lightly with oil. Turn potatoes out onto cookie sheet, and spread out in one layer. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Remove potatoes, and turn each round over, then bake for another 20 minutes. Serve with homeade BBQ sauce for dippin’!