Still lingering on tasty memories of Michelle’s last BBQ, I was craving smokey pulled pork in a big way this weekend. So much so that I actually got my ass out of bed at 9 am on a Saturday to head over to Chinatown to pick up a big ole pork butt.
Pork butt for those initiated is another name for the “picnic” roast which in betrayal of its name comes from the other end of the pig (the shoulder). It’s a delightfully grisly fatty cut of meat that would make for a rubber doorstop if you cooked it any other way than slow and low.
At about 185 degrees F, the fat and connective tissue break down into that lovely moisturizing stuff that lotions purport will keep your skin wrinkle free and supple. This makes the meat incredibly moist and tender allowing you to enjoy the ample flavor that’s inherent in this cut of meat. The key is to slowly raise the temperature of the meat to 185 F then keep it there for at least an hour. In an ideal world, you’d put it in a heating vessel that holds a steady 185 degree temperature then leave it there for a day … But then again in an ideal world I’d be allowed to BBQ in my NYC apartment and not have to go to work either.
In an effort to make this more apartment friendly and time saving, I roast it in a dutch oven at 200 degree F. It will still take at least 5 hours mind you, so this isn’t a quick weeknight meal, but you could also put this into a crockpot on low and let it do it’s thing while you’re at work. I used smoked salt to give it a bit of that bbq flavour, but nothing beats putting it in a real charcoal smoker for hours on end.
4-5lbs well marbled pork butt
for the rub
2 Tbs loose green tea leaves
2 Tbs smoked salt
1 Tbs brown sugar
for the sauce
1/4 C gochujang (korean hot sauce)
2 Tbs Thai sweet chili sauce
2 Tbs rice wine
2 Tbs rice vinegar
1 tsp grated ginger
1 large clove grated garlic
The day before you make your roast, put the ingredients for the rub in a spice grinder or blender and blitz until it ground into a relatively fine powder. Rub this into your roast then wrap with a couple layers of plastic wrap and put it in the fridge.
Take the pork out of the fridge about an hour before you start cooking to let it come to room temperature.
Unwrap the roast and put it in a dutch oven or other heavy pot with a tight sealing lid then put it in the oven. Now go try to forget about it for 5+ hours while it slowly cooks. You’ll know its done when when a fork inserted into the meat makes it come apart.
For the sauce, just combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan and boil until thickened.
Remove the pork from the pan and when it’s cool enough to handle, “pull” the pork apart using a fork and your fingers. If your lid had a reasonable seal, you should also have some liquid at the bottom of the pan (this stuff tastes amazing) pour some of this over your meat for added flavour and moistness. If you have a lot of liquid like I did, you can dilute the broth with some water, add some pork potatoes and kale and turn it into a soup.
To serve, just plate some of the pulled pork with a bowl of sauce as a condiment.