Now that Christmas is over and the turkey and ham leftovers in the fridge are finally starting to subside it’s time to start thinking about New Years Eve and if you’re planning on having a New Years Eve party or any gathering where you want crowd pleasing food that’s a cinch to prepare then this pulled pork recipe is for you. The other bonus of this recipe is that it can be prepared well in advance, even days before, and then reheated just before serving – entertaining doesn’t get much easier than that! The pork is seasoned with a dry rub and left to marinade overnight. It’s then slow cooked for quite a few hours (relax, it’s all hands off work and you won’t need to do a thing while it bakes). By the end of the cooking time the meat is meltingly tender and can be shredded with ease before being coated with a simple homemade barbecue sauce. You can make this as spicy or as mild as you like – the recipe below includes chipotle chillies but you can leave these out if you are catering for a crowd that involves children. One note on the cut of pork – this is best made with any kind of cut from the shoulder as it can stand up to the long cooking time without drying out. I was able to find some rolled boneless pork shoulder that had a layer of crackling on top, which I crisped up separately at the end of the cooking time, and chopped up to serve as a crunchy little addition to the soft meat, something I can highly recommend! I recently made this for a friend’s birthday and it went down a treat. For a party I think the easiest way to serve this is with soft buns, coleslaw and maybe a couple of other side dishes like corn on the cob or potato salad. The quantities below feed a lot of people but if there are leftovers it freezes well and you can use pulled pork as taco fillings, for nachos or even with eggs in a jazzed up huevos rancheros.
Ingredients – Serves at least 30 but can be scaled down easily and freezes well
8 kg pork shoulder, free range if possible – I used 4 x 2kg pieces of boned and rolled pork shoulder
6 onions, roughly sliced
a few drops liquid smoke – optional
⅔ cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons salt
½ tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons mild chilli powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoon dried oregano
3 tablespoons vegetable oil – I used the fat that I skimmed from the cooked pork
2 medium onions, finely diced
6 cloves garlic, finely minced
3 cups tomato ketchup – I use Heinz Organic
1 cup water
2 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
½ cup cider vinegar
6 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoon canned chipotle chiles in adobo – optional
1 teaspoon chipotle chilli powder – optional, or replace with mild Mexican chilli powder
6 tablespoons dark brown sugar
3 tablespoon honey
A few drops of liquid smoke
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
The day before you plan to cook the pork mix all the dry rub ingredients together and divide evenly between the pork pieces and rub all over the skin, massaging it in well. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate over night. To cook the pork, bring it to room temperature and preheat the oven to 150C. Place the sliced onions into the bottom of a large roasting pan that will comfortably hold the meat. I had to use two pans and if you do this just divide the onions amongst the pans. Unwrap the pork and place on the onions. Add enough water around the meat to come about half an inch up the side of the pan. Cover the pork loosely with some scrunched up baking paper then cover the roasting tins tightly and securely with foil, you want to make sure as little steam as possible can escape. Place in the oven and bake for 5 hours. Check the pans halfway through to make sure there is still some liquid in the pan and it’s not drying out.
After 5 hours remove the baking paper and foil and cook for a further hour. At the point you can take the pork out of the oven and cover it again and let it cool. When it’s cool enough to handle remove the crackling (if you have any) and set it aside – it won’t be crisp and you will need to crisp it up under a hot grill for a few minutes. Shred the pork using 2 forks or your hands, which I find easier. Skim as much fat as you can from the pan juices and reserve if you wish to use it in your bbq sauce. Place the shredded meat back into the baking pans and mix to coat it with the onions and pan juices.
To make the barbecue sauce, heat the oil or pork fat in a large sauce pan and fry the onions along with a pinch of salt until very soft. Add the garlic and fry for another couple of minutes. Add the tomato ketchup and water and bring to a boil then simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredient and stir well to combine. Bring to a simmer and cook gently for a further 10 – 12 minutes.
When the barbecue sauce is ready add it to the shredded meat a few ladlefuls at a time and mix in after each addition to make sure all the pork is nicely coated. Any left over sauce can be served on the side or poured on top of the pork. The pork can be cooked ahead of time, even a couple of days earlier, and coated with the sauce and kept refrigerated until you need it. To warm it through just bring it to room temperature and place it covered in a preheated oven for about 30 minutes.