Easy Oven Pulled Pork: Good to Great in 4 Steps

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I’m going to un-rein my ego for just a moment to say…I make great pulled pork.

In fact, I make amazing pulled pork, and it’s always hugely popular at our cook-outs (not as popular as Chef Chris’ smoked brisket, but let’s not get into THAT, right now…)

That said, I cringe every time see these recipes for “Amazing Pulled Pork in the Crock-pot!”…um, I don’t think so.

Not to diss anyone’s favorite recipe, ’cause I’m sure it’s good, but I don’t understand the whole crock-pot thing. You’re not roasting, you’re steaming, and steaming won’t create that awesome brown bark that’s so loaded with the flavor that makes pulled pork so amazing!

There’s also some technical differences in the cooking temp and times involved that effect how the collagen in the meat becomes gelatine, and creates a completely different texture in the finished product…but I won’t get all Alton Brown on you in this post.

I think you can get GOOD pulled pork from a slow cooker, but I’ve tried many, many of these recipes, and honestly? I have a sneaking suspicion that anyone who thinks they’re “amazing”…has never had amazing pulled pork.

That’s 20 years of doing old-fashioned pit-smoked bbq, talking!

(…and, no…what I’m talking about here isn’t as good as that, but I’ll swear on my favorite sauce recipe that it’s the next best thing!)

The crazy part it, it’s just not that much harder to make it this way… but the end result is so much better!

Amazing Pulled Pork in the Oven!
Perfect oven pulled pork(Above: your perfect pork shoulders, about 8 hours in.)

Here it is, so easy…

  1. Coat 1 boneless pork shoulder heavily in rub, and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Mix 1 cup each hot water, apple juice, and cider vinegar, with 1/4 cup mesquite liquid smoke, and pour into the pan with the shoulder.
  3. Roast, uncovered, fat side up, in a 225 oven for 14 hours (overnight works great). Remove from oven and allow to rest 30-45 minutes.
  4. Drain off the juices, shred the meat (two forks work great) and mix back in the broth. Let rest another 15 minutes, and serve.

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Again, I hope I’m not offending anyone, but if it doesn’t have bark, it isn’t pulled pork.

If you disagree, try this recipe and then tell me so!

– Chef Perry

PS – Lookin’ for an awesome pork dry rub? Check out the one we use on our Perfect Oven Pork Ribs…just as tasty on pork shoulder, believe me…I know! :)




8 thoughts on “Easy Oven Pulled Pork: Good to Great in 4 Steps

  1. Perry, the only thing I’ll disagree with (and this is personal preference) is that I prefer a bone-in shoulder/butt. I think the extra collagen present from having the bone-in cut breaks down into even more sugars/gelatins resulting in an even tastier pulled pork. But yeah, if it ain’t got the bark…… :)

    • Jon, that’s a good point. I agree, pork shoulders (like most other meats) are typically going to have better flavor when cooked on the bone.

      Thanks for reminding me! :)

      -Chef Perry

  2. Wow that looks sooo good Chef Perry. I am going to try a pork butt on my #2 la caja china this weekend for my fantasy football group. Can you advise me on the amount of charcoal to initially use for a single roast in this unit? The la caja china recommended 18#’s seems like a lot. The tip you offered on your whole pig la caja china made sense to primarily cover the ham and shoulder areas with coals, so I thought the same for a pork butt. BTW I am going to roast a whole pig for the first time soon and your terrific video has given me a big confidence boost. Thanks so much!

    • Clem, you’re certainly welcome!

      I wish I had a better answer for you on roasting a pork butt in a model #2, unfortunately, I’ve never tried that.

      Here’s the challenge: you’re going to have so much extra empty space that will have to maintain cooking temperature, that while you may need less coals to get it to temp at first, in the long run you’re going to need MORE coals to keep all that empty air hot. A whole pig, or several shoulders/butts, take up a lot of mass, and once they start to warm up, they help keep the ambient temperature up.

      Without that mass, it’s going to be a constant fight.

      Here’s my completely unauthorized, and untested, possible solution: I would go with your idea of a selective fire, ie: build your coals up at one end of the box, and then build some kind of barrier INSIDE the box….maybe fire-brick, or foil wrapped pans (to reflect the heat). THEN heat a big pot of water to a simmer, foil the top (to minimize steam escaping), and place it in the OTHER side of the box. This should minimize heat loss.

      Now you’ve created a (somewhat less efficient) Model #3, “Cajita”. See instructions for roasting a shoulder in a Model #3, here: http://www.lacajachina.com/pork-shoulder-model-3_a/323.htm

      Basically, you start with 5lbs of charcoal and add 4lbs every hour until you reach your desire temp. I would add 25% to each of those numbers to make up for our fix, and do everything you can to minimize heat loss. I have some tips in my free e-book (http://burninlovebbq.wordpress.com/2011/09/19/la-caja-china-guidebook/) that should help. If you haven’t been to our BBQ page (that link), we have TONS of La Caja China stuff there.

      Again, this isn’t something that your model #2 is designed to do, so it comes with all of the standard “McGyvver” warnings and disclaimers, lol.

      That said, if you DO try it, and it DOES work…please take lots of pictures so I can add them to this post! :)

      Let us know how it goes!

      -Chef Perry
      SimplySmartDinnerPlans.com

  3. Chef Perry, thanks again for your willingness to share your cooking wisdom and the tips on the roaster box. I decided to do two 10# pork butts. I think I’m going to have room for a sealed pot of hot water to help regulate the temps. I’ll take pictures and let you know how it goes. Right now I’m off to make a batch of the “dirty little secret” bbq sauce and the “burnin’ love rub”.
    I can’t wait!

  4. Chef Perry, I wanted to follow up on my first try using the la caja china. The two pork butts turned out fantastic! Because our group finished our fantasy football draft ahead I schedule I did pull one of the roasts out sooner than I anticipated. Nonetheless, the meat came out extremely succulent and tender. I did lightly tent them and didn’t get the full on bark but still adequate. Because I felt a bit pressured to serve the hungry group I didn’t take the time to pull every all of it but put a coarse chop on and mixed the bark with all the tender goodness. I was pleased and the group was impressed. Your rub recipe, injection marinade, and your “dirty little secret” bbq sauce I believe made all the difference in the end result. September 6th is my next adventure on a whole roasted hog. I will let you know how it goes. Thanks for all your help!

  5. Pingback: My pulled-pork mission in life… | SimplySmartDinnerPlans

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