Pulled BBQ Pork

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This version of pulled pork is healthier than many other pulled-pork recipes, and it’s absolutely delicious to boot. “This is the best pork I’ve ever had and I’ve made hundreds of different versions over the years,” says Chef Jacquie Steiner, who came up with this recipe years ago while living in the South. It’s Eastern North Carolina style, so it’s vinegary, not tomato based.

Recipe courtesy of Jacquie Steiner of Moveable Feast.

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Ingredients

  • 3½ pound pork shoulder
  • About 1½ tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon grapeseed oil, or your favorite light oil
  • 4 to 6 soft whole-wheat buns (or brown rice if you want to forgo the buns)
  • BBQ Sauce
  • 1½ cups apple cider vinegar
  • ⅓ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Aleppo pepper or crushed red pepper
  • A few dashes of Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 250°F. Take pork shoulder out of fridge and bring to room temperature (approximately 30-60 min).
  2. Sprinkle kosher salt all over pork. Heat light oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Sear pork on all sides. Cover, place in oven and bake for 5 to 6 hours, until meat thermometer reads 165°F and it’s falling apart or easily shreds with a fork. Toward the end of cooking time, make BBQ sauce (see below). Place pork in a dish. Drain all fat. Shred pork* and pour some BBQ sauce over the pork, mixing it in to saturate. Keep the rest of the sauce for extra pouring over your sandwich. Assemble sandwiches and enjoy!
  3. BBQ Sauce: In a small pot, combine apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, Aleppo/crushed pepper, and Worcestershire sauce. Salt to taste. Bring to a simmer. Stir to make sure sugar is dissolved. Strain half of the crushed peppers out of the sauce. Remove from heat and set aside.

Tips/Techniques

Shred the pork in fat pieces. Don’t overshred or you will just have mush and pieces of juicy pork. It looks nicer too.

Nutrition Info

Yes, it’s pork, but much of the fat is drained off, so it’s less caloric and fatty than many pork recipes. The barbecue sauce has less sugar in it than most barbecue sauces, and no ketchup or molasses (which also adds sugar). You can cut back on the brown sugar if you like the more vinegary taste, which many people do. Whole-wheat buns add fiber, but if you want to forgo the buns, use brown rice instead. Or just have your BBQ with a green on the side. (See recipes for collard greens or kale.)
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