six-hour pulled pork with homemade bourbon barbecue sauce

interior2My husband awoke on Friday morning to a pyjama-clad wife cradling a baking dish full of spiced, marinated raw pork shoulder. “That looks like chocolate”, he stated, rubbing sleep from his eyes. “Uh, it’s marinated pork, baby. I’m going to slow-cook it whilst we’re at work today”. He nodded blearily and trundled off to the bathroom to wash his face. So cute.

But, ah… no Aaron. Not all brown foodstuffs are chocolate (though on second thought, that meat does look rather chocolatey).

marinademontToday’s post is based on a recipe for pulled pork by a fellow Antipodean blogger and recipe developer, Peter Georgakopolous. Peter’s blog, Souvlaki for the Soul, was one of the first I discovered as a fledgling foodie. It’s now four years on and I’m still addicted to his impeccable food styling, innovative recipes and top-notch photography.

This particular dish is a perfect example of Peter’s generous hospitality, bold flavours and delicate-but-achievable presentation. It’s been featured on the freakishly cool subscription blog The Boy’s Club (which I also love, despite not being a boy) and I’ve wanted to make it since I first set eyes on his gorgeous food styling, recipe and words.

drinklikeSo on Thursday night, I set to work with Peter as my guide. I liberally covered a shoulder of pork in a fragrant dry rub of brown sugar, oregano, mustard and spices before wrapping and refrigerating the meat overnight.

The next morning, I stared out the window for a while, eating Cheerios whilst the meat returned to room temperature. I then blearily flung it into a hot roasting pan to brown before shoving it, foil-covered, into the oven. As I ran out the door, I hoped that the meat would take care of itself (luckily, it did).

gorgeousherbsIf you haven’t figured it out already, this recipe takes time. Lots of it. Unless you’re lucky enough to lead a flexible routine, I’d recommend that you plan ahead to:

a) marinate the meat and make the barbecue sauce the night before

b) start the cooking process in an oven or pressure cooker before work (it doesn’t matter if you’re away for 8-10 hours, just keep the temperature low; the longer the cook time, the better)

c) ensure that you have all of the other ingredients available for serving when guests arrive (I’m speaking to myself, as frantic “…just make yourself at home, I’ll be back in fifteen!” dashes to the supermarket just aren’t fun).

mmmmSix-hour Pulled Pork

Adapted from this recipe by Peter Georgakopolous.

Makes about 20 pulled pork rolls.

  • 1 pork shoulder, weighing between 1.5-1.7kg
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp rock salt, crushed
  • 1 tbsp white pepper
  • 2 tbsp smoked Spanish paprika
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • Bourbon barbecue sauce, to serve (recipe below)

Place the pork shoulder into a large, flat dish. Combine all of the dry rub ingredients in a bowl, then massage the mix into the pork shoulder until it is entirely covered (if there’s any residual dry rub, just pour it on top of the meat). Cover the dish in plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator overnight (or for at least 8 hours).

dryrubmontRemove the pork from the oven at least one hour before cooking, so that it can return to room temperature. Preheat your oven to 120 degrees C (250 degrees f).

Heat a good splash of oil in a large oven-safe baking dish or pan over high heat. Gently pat any moisture and extra marinade off the pork meat, then seal it on all sides until well browned.

porkseal3Remove from heat, pour over any residual marinade then cover the baking dish with foil. Place in the oven and cook for at least six hours, or until falling off the bone.

After removing the pork from the oven, allow the meat to rest (with the foil removed) for 10-15 minutes before shredding (or ‘pulling’) it into long strands with two forks, like this:

flakemeatPlace the pulled pork into a bowl and toss with 1 cup of barbecue sauce (recipe below), ensuring it is mixed well.

pulledmeatsaucedServe in soft white rolls with a spoonful of coleslaw (see my post for Red Cabbage, Radish and Apple Coleslaw) and more mayonnaise, barbecue sauce or hot sauce, if desired. See extra serving suggestions below.

sauceHomemade Bourbon Barbecue Sauce

  • 1 cup (240ml) tomato ketchup
  • 2 cups (480ml) crushed tomatoes (substitute tomato passata)
  • 3/4 cup (165g) light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp mustard powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 3/4 cup Bourbon whisky
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup apple cider or white wine vinegar
  • 20ml fish sauce
  • 3 tbsp hot sauce (I used Tabasco), or to taste

Place all of the ingredients into a medium sized pot and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 30 minutes, or until thickened. Store in a sterilised bottle for later use, or serve immediately with the pulled pork.

interiorServing Suggestions:

You can use storebought coleslaw in these rolls at a pinch. I’d suggest adding some coriander and mint upon serving for freshness, colour and flavour.

I’ve specified ‘white rolls’ for this recipe, though I normally eat brown, seeded or whole wheat bread at home. The soft neutrality of the white bread just seems to really work well with the spiced meat and coleslaw; use brown bread if you must (it’ll still be delicious).

The first time I served these rolls, they were assembled by the light of a halogen work lamp on a tarp-covered trestle table at a friend’s partially renovated home. It was simple: rolls, meat, coleslaw, paper towels. We ate them fireside, with dust on our boots, beer in our bellies and sauce dripping down our chins. It was a beautiful illustration of hand-held food at its best; liberated from the restraints of cutlery, etiquette and dinner party decorum. I’d suggest warming the rolls on a barbecue first, if you have access to one, before serving with potato crisps and lots of fresh, citrusy beer (we had James Boags Premium Lager from Tasmania. Pretty good).

My second attempt took place at home, with the benefits of an oven, sink and refrigerator. I warmed the rolls in the oven until the outsides were slightly crisped and the insides were warm and soft. Meat was added, with coleslaw, a little extra hot sauce and lashes of mayonnaise. These were so, so good. The crisp roll, hot spiced pork and still-cold coleslaw was a fantastic combination. Even better with ice-cold Hoegaarden and some of the best friends on the planet.


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