Speaking of great

If I could change geography, I would. No offense to Kennebunkport and Kittery and southern New Hampshire and the whole south shore, but I would squish them inland, or maybe shift them south. Then, I'd build a short bridge—I'm thinking five miles or so—from our house in Wellfleet to my sister's doorstep in Portland, Maine. My parents would only be a half hour's drive north, and we could all get together and cook and eat and sit around on Sundays. It would be just like last Sunday, when my sister and I both made pulled pork, except we could make it in the same pot, do half the dishes, and have twice the fun. It would be great.

Speaking of great, I should say a few things about the pulled pork. First off, I'd like to thank Martha—you know, the Martha—for making it all so easy. I have to admit that before I found her recipe I was sort of intimated by pulled pork, and when you routinely have half a pig in your freezer, that is not a good way to be. I was under the impression that you needed a crock pot, or possibly even a fire pit, but Martha straightened me out. She showed me that you can make excellent pulled pork with very few ingredients in your very own oven in less than three hours, and that it will be so good that even your husband will declare it "North Carolina Tasty."

It's easy. All you need is some pork shoulder (also known as pork butt)—we used two pork butt steaks with the bones still in—a bit of brown sugar, some cayenne pepper, minced garlic, and a few cups of apple cider vinegar. Seriously, that's it. Oh, and an oven. I also added homemade coleslaw and some Portuguese rolls, but that was for sandwiches. All in all, it made for an excellent experience.

Now we'll just have to wait for the next pig, and a new shoulder to experiment with. And maybe, just maybe, one day we'll build that bridge.


This is an excellent way to use pork shoulder—whether you have it as one big hunk or it's divided into steaks. Martha calls for boneless shoulder, but I don't think it really matters. We left the bones in and ours came out excellent.

When it comes time to toss the cooked meat with the pan juices, don't be afraid of adding the fat back in—if the meat is from a pastured animal, this is where you'll not only get your flavor but also a lot of top notch nutrients.

1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper
3 pounds pork shoulder, cut into four pieces
1 and 1/2 cups cider vinegar, plus extra for serving
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup water

for sandwiches: add 8 sandwich rolls & homemade coleslaw (I like shredded cabbage and grated carrots with roughly this dressing)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper.

Place the meat in a large, heavy-bottomed pot and rub it with the spice mixture.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the vinegar, garlic, and water and pour this mixture over the pork. Cover the pot, put it in the oven, and bake for about 2 and 1/2 hours, or until the meat is very tender and separates easily when pulled with a fork.

Transfer the pork to a cutting board, saving the juice in the pan. Use two forks to shred the meat, put the meat in a large bowl, and toss it with the reserved juice. (You may not need all of it; we used about two thirds). At this point, if you like your pork a little tangier, add a few extra tablespoons cider vinegar.

If you're making sandwiches, pile the rolls with equal portions pork and coleslaw, and serve at once.


againstthegrain said...

I loooooove pulled pork. And I'm a quite a lazy cook, though I make most things from scratch. Sometimes I slow BBQ a pork shoulder on the grill (indirect heat) with smoke, but sometimes I superslow cook it in the oven.

I like pork shoulder with a bone if I can get one - I think the flavor is better. I also buy a pork shoulder roast with a good fat cap on it if possible (I can't stand it when the store trims off nearly all the fat), and stab it all over with a paring knife, inserting a sliver of garlic clove deep into the cuts. Let the roast rest an hour at room temperature to lose its chill.
Preheat oven to 225°F. Blot roast dry with a paper towel. Liberally season all over with freshly ground black pepper and semi-coarse sea salt.

Place roast in a casserole or pan that allows about 2-3 inches space all around the roast and sides at least 2.5-3 inches high (to contain the juices and rendered fat). Add 1/2 teaspoon Liquid Smoke to the pan if a smokey flavor is desired. More is not better! Roast overnight or all day for about 8-12 hours (less for smaller roasts, more for larger) until the meat is practically falling apart.

Let the roast sit loosely covered with foil until it is cool enough to handle without burning fingers, then tear it apart into large chunks, then shreds, discarding any connective tissue that didn't dissolve (my 12 yo doesn't like the pale jelly-like stuff that separates the muscles). I mix the browned & sometimes crunchy exterior meat bits back in with the interior meat, and I stir back in all the meat pan juices and quite a bit of the melted fat so the meat doesn't dry out.

Anna said...

I am still dreaming about that pulled pork...it was SO good! I think next time I will dilute the vinegar mixture a little more and maybe add a tiny bit of extra brown sugar. The ONLY downside was that our apartment smelled like vinegar for days afterwards, and since it is still wintery here, it was very cold to air things out.

ps. I like your idea for the bridge. It would make life so much easier! xoxox

Jess said...

The pulled pork sandwich like this one is the reason I cannot maintain vegetarian status. But it's worth it!

Jess said...

The pulled pork sandwich like this one is the reason I cannot maintain vegetarian status. But it's worth it!

Gemma said...

i want that bridge too!

Bie said...

Pulled pork sounds so so good. Add Virginia to the bridge so I can join the group. We'll live it up together. Biee'

Elspeth said...


that sounds DELICIOUS. i am a first time pulled pork-er but clearly i need to try a second, smokier go round. thank you for sharing your method!

anna, gemma, and biee,

we'll start construction soon. pushing out connecticut, new york, and all those other states in between here and virginia might be tough, but we'll get it done. xoxo

and jess,

i know! we used to have a friend when we were little who would say she was a vegetarian "except for bacon and hot dogs." everyone has their breaking points, i guess!

all the best,

tracy said...

Ok, at first we blamed it all on Alex but now you too are responsible for turning these 20 year vegetarians back into carnivores. Swede is so super excited to eat tonight that he doesn't mind the smell of the vinegar... though it's not bad. I'm loving that dinner is in the oven and I can run off to a meeting and come home to this deliciousness! We'll let you how it turns out after we stop licking every little morsel off our lips , fingers and most likely plates too!

Elspeth said...


so our plan is working, huh?


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