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.


96 responses

  1. Pingback: Red Cabbage, Radish and Apple Coleslaw « Laura's Mess

  2. This is exactly what I am talking about. Looks incredibly delicious. I love the BBQ sauce and the slaw. This is one of my all time favorites. I would like one now but it’s too hot to cook the pork, I can make the slaw though!!

    • I know exactly what you mean Suzanne, I hate turning on the oven during Summertime. It’s freezing cold here at the moment though, so having the oven on all day actually produces some much-needed heat! Hope that you enjoy the slaw. I loved it, and I never thought I’d say that! xx

  3. There was literally an audible “holy crap” when I saw the title of this post. I love pulled pork and the addition of the bourbon bbq sauce sounds amazing. I agree with Suzanne, way too hot in Brooklyn to turn on the oven (again…I baked in 101 degrees, bad idea) but as soon as it gets a bit cooler I can’t wait to make this. For now, I’m trying to figure out if there’s a way I can just eat the photos to tide me over.

    • Hey Mel, thanks so much for the kind words! It’s so weird to think about you guys sweltering through Summer time whilst we have freezing cold rain and windy nights. I guess that’s part of the beauty of the seasons; I’m envious of your warm weather pattern whilst you guys feel drenched in the sweat and humidity. You can definitely try eating the photographs, but maybe print them first. Your computer screen is too precious (and electric, bad idea!) xx

  4. Wow Laura this sounds incredibly difficult to make, congrats!
    I had an opposite chocolate situation once when we had a housemate and he was eating his brownie mixture with vegetables. Mr H didn’t believe me and said it must be Mexican mole. So off we went to double check and yes it was the brownie mix alright. When asked if it was good or not, our friend said: yeah, its ok….

    • Hi Sofia! It’s not really difficult, just time consuming. Really annoying, to be honest! The result is completely worth it though. These rolls were so, so delicious! Haha, love the story about your flatmate. Hilarious! xx

  5. Oh my goodness, I am drooling! This looks so amazingly delicious – thank you for the inspiration! I am sure this was a huge hit! Hope you’re doing well lovely! xoxo

    • Doing very well thanks Lindsey, other than being freezing cold in this winter weather! Hope that you’re doing well too? I loved every bite of the pulled pork rolls. They’re definitely man food (Aaron and his mates practically inhaled them!) xxx

  6. Laura you turned out a perfect dinner. I kept scrolling up and down admiring the deliciousness! Served with “lashes” of mayo, cool coleslaw, crisped roll and the thing that topped it off for me was Hoegaarden! Oh my! I have wanted to make pulled pork for years and never had a recipe truly inspire me to do so. I just found it. Thank you.

    • Oh, I love Hoegaarden! I wish that we could pull up some chairs in the sunshine and enjoy a drink together! This pulled pork recipe is pretty easy, actually. It takes a bit of time but it’s incredibly rewarding. Hope that you give it a go! xx

  7. Wowser! Pulled pork is all the rage here now, but I have never seen a recipe as full of flavor as this one. And that bourbon barbecue sauce? What do you want to bet that it would be good with chicken, salmon… anything!!

    • Hey David! Thanks so much for the feedback. I definitely agree… the Bourbon barbecue sauce is such a good accompaniment for all grilled meats. I’d even eat it with fries! I adore pulled pork, so it was quite exciting to have a whole batch at home. This recipe is definitely a keeper!

  8. This just fantastic … I just love pulled pork – just what I’m going to use your coleslaw with. Once again your photos … makes me drool.

  9. LOOOOVE a bit of pulled pork Laura. Those close-up shots have me drooling (even at 6.25am)! I usually use pork neck, but saw some shoulder at the butcher last week. Intrigued to give it a try. Your BBQ sauce sounds lip-smackingly good. Mine is quite a sweet apple/molasses combo. I love the addition of Bourbon in yours, and with Father’s day coming up I can’t think of a more manly feast to serve the husband!

    • Thanks Saskia! Haha, I’m always drooling when I browse through blog posts first thing in the morning (made worse by the fact that my breakfasts are usually dead boring, like this morning’s Sultana Bran!). I’m not a fan of sweet barbecue sauces, though many people feel differently! This one’s got quite a chilli and Bourbon kick with a lingering smokiness from the paprika. Great idea for father’s day – my husband and his friends (seven beefy men) demolished the whole batch in seconds. Definitely man-pleasing food! xx

  10. oh. wow. even the first picture made my mouth water! my housemates LOVE pulled pork so I’m gunna see if I can hint strongly enough for them to try this… ;) thanks for sharing!

    • Haha, yes! Definitely convince them to try it (other than the time aspect, it’s really easy to make!) It turned out really wonderful. Definitely a crowd pleaser! xx

  11. Pulled pork is good stuff! I prefer to cook it in a smoker, but that’s not always possible, so I sometimes do it in the oven, too. It’s certainly easier in the oven! And I don’t have to constantly fuss with the fire. Lovely recipe – thanks so much.

    • Oh wow, I can imagine how good this would be in a smoker. I don’t have one so I just rely on natural caramelisation and some cheater’s smoked sea salt. Still delicious, but your pulled pork must be mindblowingly good! Thanks John

  12. Sounds amazing. Don’t think I’ve ever had pulled pork before. Bet it’s sooo good. As for bbq sauce you can have mine, I’ll stick with slaw. And my roll, too!
    – Love the close-up of the drink, btw.

    • Johnny, you need the barbecue sauce! Or at least some hot sauce. Maybe you could sandwich the pork and slaw between a couple of slices of your wheaten bread? I went for plain white rolls as this is kind of indulgent, campfire-and-beer food. Not exactly healthy but definitely satisfying. Thanks for the kind words about the photography also :)

      • Actually, I sort of meant this is the type of thing I’d eat without really needing anything more. Apart from perhaps dipping the pork in the sauce, occasionally. I just prefer to nibble, with a cold lager and lots of chatter!

      • That makes complete sense Johnny. Meat is a meal in itself. Wish we could do the lager and chatter thing; I always feel a bit desolate at the thought that I’ll never meet any of my blogging friends. I shouldn’t be so finite. Maybe we will meet! One day!!

  13. I love Peter’s blog to, he has developed such a distinctive style of photography and the food just shines. White bread rolls can feel like such a guilty pleasure sometimes, you know that other breads are better for you but it tastes so good!

    • I definitely agree… sometimes there’s nothing like eating a soft white roll (my guilty pleasure is a soft white roll spread with thick peanut butter and banana. So, so good!). Peter is one of my blogging heroes. I’d love to hear him speak about his experience some time. Thanks for the lovely comment Ai-Ling! xx

    • I thought it’d be your cooking style! I love meat and beer. Anything charred over a barbecue. I’d actually love to pee standing up too, but my husband won’t allow it. I effing wish you could come over for leftovers man!

      • So do I! Lucky we had pulled pork on the weekend :). 12 hours in the oven and it was a glorious sight. I was just talking to pantryobsession who did one aswell. It must be pulled pork season!! Add bourbon sauce and coleslaw and I’m wetting my pants!!!

    • Hello Jasline! Thanks so much for the kind words. I do hope that you try the recipe, it’s a keeper! I’m heading over to visit your blog now. Thanks for helping me find you! xx

  14. Hehe look at us using booze in food together! It does look like chocolate. Looks like something that Tyler would be really into. I have my slow cooker out at the moment and really should give it a go!

    • Huge yay for booze in food. It actually makes me quite excited… I did a boozy brownie over the weekend that I’ll eventually post also!! Yup, I am pretty sure that Tyler would love these. My husband and guy friends demolished them in seconds, then wanted more! I think the slow cooker would be perfect xx

    • Hello lovely. I’ve made a similar dish with beef brisket and it works wonderfully… I think chicken would be even better! Hope that you enjoy the barbecue sauce at the very least. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment xx

  15. Hey Hey Laura! As foodisthebestshitever said “must be pulled pork season!” – as for johnnysenough hepburn – he definitely needs to get into the sauce, otherwise it’s just not the same. I’m so glad you found my blog because it has led me to yours! Awesome photographs – I am just kicking back feeling sick with a cold but drinking Vodka and pomegranate juice (must have Vitamin whateveritis!) and enjoying your blog. Signing off from Melbourne and am returning the follow! Awesome work girl :)

    • Hey!! Yep, definitely pulled pork season! Hm, re Johnny, he’s a bit of a minimalist when it comes to sauce. And I think he’s eaten too much of his darn good wheaten bread to appreciate trashy white stuff! I am so glad we’ve connected in the blogosphere. It’s always special to meet other Aussie bloggers and I find your work inspiring in the most beautiful of ways! I hope you kick the cold soon. I’m drinking apple cider vinegar and honey in hot water for the same reason (not nearly as good as vodka but I drank way too much on the weekend so I’m trying to be good). Can’t wait for Summer! Hugs! xx

    • Haha… I think a passion for food is never inappropriate (now you’ve got me thinking about your truffle post again!!), particularly when it’s centered on slow-cooked meat! This was so, so tasty. Definitely recommended! xx

  16. Omg Laura! I don’t even eat meat, but you have me almost drooling–this sounds AMAZING. Definitely worth all the prep and cooking time no?? I’m so impressed that you not only slow-cooked the pork but made the BBQ sauce yourself–wow! You have some lucky friends :) Haha–I so know the feeling of forgetting something and needing to do last minute store runs when you already have people over. The worst. The last time that happened, my bf oh so kindly offered to run to the store for me to pick up more bubbly…and then almost got a ticket! On my birthday! I felt SO BAD. But luckily, the officer let him off since Erik explained he was speeding just a bit because it was his gf’s birthday…sigh. I almost had a heart attack when he told me. Ha. ANYWAY. Lovely job, lady!

    • Hahaha! Aw, poor Erik (and poor you, seeing as it was your birthday!). I’ve sent Aaron off to get last minute things also, but he never speeds. I’m the one that’s more likely to get a ticket!
      The pork was definitely worth every minute spent on it. So, so good. I hope that you get a chance to try it some day soon! xx

    • Haha, yep it smelt amazing! I was at work for most of the day, but my husband was home and he had to endure the torture of smelling pork goodness for hours before he could eat any! xx

    • Hello lovely! Thanks heaps for the kind words. This is definitely one of my new favourites… tender pulled pork, rich bbq sauce and crunchy coleslaw, mmm! Try it if you have the time :) x

  17. Oh my! This is gorgeousness at its best. I can eat this every day. It looks every bit worth the 6 hours cooking time that goes into it. And the sauce..I am off to get Tabasco…that one is missing in my cupboard!

    • Ah Sonali, I’ve just run out of Tabasco also (and my smoky Chipotle! I am a chilli fiend!). Get some and try this recipe if you have the time. It was definitely worth the slow-cooking process! xx

  18. I don’t know how to tell you how happy I am you posted this up! I had pulled park with bourbon barbecue sauce at a sort of festival, and it has been on my mind ever since! :D Your photos are so mouthwatering! And all those tips you added are very helpful, especially for people like me who have never really taken on such a dish. I especially loved the photo at the end, where the food is pretty much all gone. because I imagine it must have been hard to resist taking a bite when setting up for the photos! :D

    • Aw, you’re gorgeous! Thanks for the kind words lovely, I appreciate the encouragement. Yep, I was snacking on bits of pork and vegetable that dropped out through this whole photoshoot. Occupational hazard? Or benefit, whichever way you look at it! Hope that you give this a go. It was so, so delicious (pretty easy too!) xx

  19. Wow….! This does look amazing. Reminds me of when I was working in Whistler (first time I had pulled pork – it’s not really around in Sweden where I’m from), but of course this looks like ten times better! I think I should make this a weekend project soon!!

    • Ooh, whereabouts in Sweden are you from? I have family in Malmo, just across the border from Copenhagen, DK. The pulled pork is worth every minute of the time that it requires! For the most part, it takes care of itself once you put it in the oven :) Hope you enjoy it! xx

  20. What delicious looking pulled pork and lovely story. I never tire of pulled pork — such a fabulous dish – for the two or you or for a crowd. I haven’t made it this summer but you have just inspired me! Kids/Grandchildren coming next week and pulled pork will be perfect.

    See how great your photos are? They make you want to eat whatever you photograph right away :-)

    • Thanks so much for the lovely comment. I definitely agree, pulled pork never gets old. It’s one of those delicious, filling dishes that makes you feel good every time! I think your kids and grandchildren will inhale these rolls… I’ve made them twice in the past week and they’ve been demolished in seconds. It’s a real crowd-pleasing recipe :) Thanks for the photo encouragement too, I really appreciate it! Hugs xx

  21. A fabulous recipe for pulled pork! I love, love that home-made bourbon BBQ sauce a lot too! And I love that you serve it with an ice-cold Hoegaarden, because it is a Belgian fine white beer that I so much love too! I am a true Belgian! ;) x

    • It was so good. I’ve loved pulled pork for a long time but this was the first version I’d tried at home. I’d definitely recommend it for pure, delicious and satisfying comfort food! The sauce actually made about one third more than was needed in the recipe. I’ve tried it with chicken and a few other things, it’s pretty versatile! Hope that you like the recipe if you try it! xx

  22. This is stunning, Laura! Oh, I’ve missed you! I’ve added you to bloglovin’ so I don’t miss another post from you! Haha..I must agree with Aaron as it does look a lot like chocolate in that picture ;). I love that you eat Cheerios..It’s one of my fav snacks (the plain ones) and Tim always pokes fun, reminding me that it’s baby food. I beg to differ.
    While the pork looks succulent and amazing (way to go!) the bbq sauce is what really intrigues me. I believe a splash of fish sauce (with 3 crabs on the you know what I’m talking about? If not, it’s the best brand, in my opinion) makes everything taste superior. However, I’ve never thought to add to BBQ sauce! Love it ;).

    • Hello lovely! I missed your beautiful blog also… so glad that we’ve reconnected! You know what, I haven’t properly learnt how to use bloglovin’ yet. I need to investigate and add you also! Cheerios are wonderful! I still love them and so does Aaron. We eat either the plain or the honey ones, though I do feel that the plain ones are sweet enough :) Tim needs to access his inner child as he’s missing out!
      Re the fish sauce, I just thought it’d add a more ‘meaty’ savoury and salty taste to the sauce without being overly powerful like soy sauce. You can’t taste anything distinctly ‘fish saucy’ in the finished product. It’s kinda like having an anchovy in pasta sauce to round out the flavours. Definitely try it (oh, and YES I buy the 3 crab one also! I need to look in the cupboard as I can’t remember the name!) xx

  23. Omg! How can I not make this…look at that texture..and that sauce. I am sure every mouthful does not just stimulate our senses but all the emotions from within as well. What a great recipe to share.

  24. This looks fantastic! I love slow cooked pulled pork, and I especially like the fish and hot sauces in your bourbon sauce. I bet they add a nice bit of umami and heat to the sauce to balance it out. I might have to try that myself soon!

    • Definitely agree re the ‘umami’ flavours. I’m only just starting to become acquainted with the use of umami so it’s nice to be reminded of how flavours work on the palate. Definitely give this recipe a go if you enjoy pulled pork. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment!

  25. I’ve been looking for a good pulled pork recipe, Laura, with limited success. (I almost burned down my porch in an ill-fated attempt at smoking a pork butt.) Yours here sounds delicious and I can use my slow cooker. It’s so much less likely to catch fire. Well, it hasn’t yet, anyway. There’s nothing like a pulled pork sandwich topped with some cole slaw. Yours is even better with that bourbon sauce. Yes, I am definitely going to give this one a try. Thanks, Laura!

    • Aw, thanks so much John! So sorry to hear about the incident with the smoked pork, argh. I’ve set off my fire alarm a couple of times whilst attempting to smoke meat on the gas hob (as I have no back porch, I have to make do… even if I partially suffocate in the process!) so I can feel the frustration. Hope that the pork works well in the slow cooker. I can imagine it’d be wonderful, particularly when returning home to fragrant, pull apart pork meat! Thanks for the kind words. Good luck!

  26. Wow, that looks amazing! And it really does look like chocolate – I bet my husband would make the same remark! I made pulled pork a few weeks ago, which we had with tacos. I couldn’t find the right cut of meat, I had to use leg rather than shoulder, so it wasn’t perfect. I think you have inspired me to try again and source pork shoulder. I love the look of the homemade bbq sauce. Yum!

    • Thanks lovely. Yes, so true… the chocolate remark is pretty accurate! In regards to the cuts of meat, I do prefer the shoulder cut (same goes for lamb) as it’s much more tender when slow cooked. I am sure that the leg would’ve been divine though, I’ve never had pulled pork tacos… sounds delicious! x

    • Thanks so much for the comment Jake! You are entirely right, I have no idea why I put New Zealand (I love Boags, it’s something I drink on a regular basis so I have no reasonable excuse). I need to apologize to the Tassies for the error. I’ll correct it in the post text now!

  27. Pingback: Saffron Pear and Dark Chocolate Tart « Laura's Mess

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