I’m not sure when it started or who was responsible, but I have noticed an exponential growth for the love of pulled pork in Australia. My first encounter with the soft, melt-in-your-mouth meat was about five years ago when my brother-in-law and I made it together for Christmas dinner – and what a fantastic feast it was. There was something really fun about serving an all American inspired dinner at Christmas, it almost seemed rebellious. But my family didn’t bat an eyelid as the spicy pork aroma temptingly wafted through the house and slowly replaced the tradition and familiar memory of Christmas turkey. Needless to say it was a huge success.
Since then, my boyfriend and I have grown leaps and bounds in both our understanding and appreciation for American barbeque. After travelling through the USA we were lucky enough to experience first-hand the true meaning of barbeque and have bought it back with us to Aus. We have even gone as far as to have a custom Texan-style smoker built to satisfy our hunger for smoked barbeque meat – and while it’s been a bit of a learning curve, our consistency, understanding and appreciation for “low and slow” has grown.
But don’t fret – I know that we don’t all have the urge to go out and order a custom built smoker! That’s why I have adapted this recipe to suit a Weber barbeque (i.e. to cook over coals) or a conventional oven. It will turn out just as moist and delicious.
Serves 10 – 15
4.5 – 5kg pork shoulder (if the bone is still in – you might need a 6kg piece, or if you can’t find a large enough piece, buy two smaller shoulder roasts and cook for a little less time)
4 Tbs paprika
2 Tbs salt
2 Tbs cracked black pepper
2 Tbs cumin
2 Tbs chilli powder (halve this if you’re not a huge chilli fan)
2 Tbs dark brown sugar
1 Tbs cayenne pepper (leave out if you’re not a chilli fan)
In the Weber
- Light a fire well over to one side of your grill, using enough coals to fill a large shoe box.
- Combine the spice rub ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Rub the pork shoulder with the oil and coat generously with the spice rub, pressing gently to ensure it adheres.
- When the fire has died down and the coals are covered with white ash, place the pork on the side of the grill away from the coals, being careful that none of the meat is directly over the coals. Put the lid on the grill with the vents open one-quarter of the way, and cook, adding a handful of fresh charcoal every 30 minutes or so, for 7 – 9 hours ( a larger piece of shoulder will need extra time).
- When the meat is halfway cooked (or even as late as 3/4 cooked), use a spray bottle with water in it and spray the meat, then wrap your meat tightly in alfoil. This ensures the meat juices stay in and will result in a lovely juice to stir through your meat once cooked.
- To test for doneness, unwrap from foil, stick a big fork in the meat and try to lift it up – if it falls off the fork, it’s done. Or if you have a piece of pork shoulder with the bone in, twist the bone – if the meat pulls away easily, its cooked.
- Remove pork shoulder from the Weber and rest for 15 – 20 minutes. Then shred using two forks or your hands if it’s not too hot. Serve with coleslaw and good quality barbeque sauce in a fresh roll.
In the oven
- Follow instructions for preparing the pork shoulder and then place into an oven pre-heated at 120°C and cook for roughly 7 – 9 hours, or until meat pulls apart. You will still need to spray the meat with water and wrap it in alfoil.
*Tip: Do not throw out the lovely meat juices that have built up in the alfoil, reserve them and once the pork has been pulled, mix through the juices to ensure the meat stays utterly moist and delicious.
*Recipe adapted from Barbeque: Recipes. Techniques. Tools.