How to Make Perfect Pulled Pork

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I will remember the food of 2012 by two things, pulled pork in sliders and salted caramel (in many forms).
While I made salted caramel in vast quantities it took until the early days of 2013 to make pulled pork.  Pulled pork sliders were made famous in NZ by Al Brown and Sean Armstrong from Loaf  I enjoyed eating pork slders when other people made them, but I have always found big chunks of pork a bit daunting and never quite organised  organised enough to start the process a day in advance.
However, a new year and some time on holiday meant more time to think about what we ate and it was time to make pulled pork sliders.  Having repeated them now on numerous occasions I marvel at how difficult it is to go wrong and how fabulous they are for serving with drinks.  Forget fiddly canapes, dips and chips, with slider in hand you need nothing more!

The recipe is really flexibile and you can add different spices or herbs to taste.

This is, in my mind, perfect pulled pork:

First off, purchase a piece of pork shoulder, either bone in or out and about a 2kg piece (with bone in) will be plenty for 8 people as a snack with drinks.
24 hours prior to serving, place the pork in a baking dish and rub with

2 tablespoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
generous amount of salt and freshly ground black pepper
few sprigs of thyme

Refrigerate uncovered overnight.

6 hours or so before you plan to serve the pork, preheat the oven to 130 celsius.
Pour 1 cup apple juice (or half apple juice, half cider) around the pork and cook for 5 hours, adding more apple juice during cooking to keep a depth of approximately 2cm around the pork.  The liquid helps to keep the meat nice and moist.
You will know when it is ready as the meat will be meltingly tender and soft.
Pour the liquid off into a bowl and skim off fat as it rises.
Combine the liquide in a saucepan with around 1/2 cup of homemade tomato sauce or barbecue sauce and simmer until the sauce is thick.
Remove fat, skin and bone from the pork and using your fingers or forks if you prefer, flake the meat into small pieces into a bowl.  Pour the sauce over the meat and mix well.

Some recipes add the tomato/barbecue sauce into the pan while cooking the sauce and then pour this over the meat.  When you see the amount of fat that comes off the liquid, I prefer to scoop that off first and then reduce the liquid with the sauce.

Pork sliders are delicious wtih coleslaw, finely shred green or red cabbage (or both), grated carrot, finely chopped red onion, finely chopped celery, chopped parsley and a handful of salted peanuts (if you like), add dollops of aioli (I use Kato) and mix well.

Heat slider buns (ie dinner rolls) in the oven and fill sliders with pork and slaw and serve.
The quantity of pork will give a generous amount for around 32 sliders.


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21 thoughts on “How to Make Perfect Pulled Pork

  1. When I make pulled pork I cook it in my Staub cast iron pot – I think its preferable to either cooking it in the oven or the slow cooker – any cast iron pot would be great, you can cook it on the stove top or in the oven and its usually done in just over 2 hours

  2. Hi helen
    I listen to you and Tony every Saturday morning on home and garden show
    Just love it
    I heard you talking about winning pie they all sounds very yummy
    We traveled to Wakefield recently and stopped at the Wakefield bakery
    As it was very wet and cold we decided to have a pie each
    Apparently they are well known for their pies cafe was full of people having lunch
    We decided to have a lambs fry and bacon potato top
    It was to die for lots of chunky meat and beatiful rich gravy it was so good
    That we went back next day and six to bring home to chch for our freezer
    I wondered if you could approach them and ask if they would share their receipe .regards penny

  3. I have made this recipe many times now, not just with pork. The spice mix is equally delicious with fish, fillet of beef and chicken. The pan juices make incredible sauces. A great favourite thankyou.

  4. I made this recipe recently for my family. We all loved it. I made an apple slaw to go with it which is delicious. Basically that’s just a coleslaw with apple grated through just before serving. Can’t wait to make it again. Mmmm =)

  5. Now this Perfect Pulled Pork sounds a must to try one night, when I prepare mine I sit the pork on a bed of 1/4 apples then add the apple juice,cider etc…so we end up with some instant apple sauce.!

  6. Hello Nadz, Firstly I’m a foodie! But I look for efficient, easy, yet great tasting food recipies and this one had me running.
    Like Rachel I use my slow cooker when I make my pulled pork. But not for 10 hours! 4 at most.
    My secret ingredient? Choose your favortie BBQ sauce and pour it over the pork before cooking. Thats it.
    Slap in on a ‘mayonnaised’ bun and called a ‘Sloppy Joe’ the kids will love you for it.
    I prefer to use a rump and only use the leanest of meat.

  7. Having just returned from the USA pulled pork was on the menu often because pork is inexpensive. I found cooking a “Boston Butt” – shoulder with bone-in with a dry herb rub cooked slowly with lid on gave me the best results. In fact for Christmas dinner with the juices, and pulled pork was delicious.

  8. I’ve made pulled pork to critical acclaim from my carnivore family…. But this sounds the best recipe yet.
    I’ve done it in oven, BBQ and slow cooker and slow cooker is def best.
    Yummy yummy.

  9. I plan to make this (and the slaw) and use in ‘filled roll’ buns for the kids lunches. Thanks for ANOTHER marvelous recipe that my kids will love!

  10. I tried making pulled pork for the first time over Xmas and it was delicious and so very easy. I also did a spicy rub, but cooked mine in the slow cooker for 10 hours. I took it out, shredded it, removed all fat and liquid from the pot, the put the pulled pork back into the slow cooker and smothered it with a homemade spicy bbq sauce. Left it for another hour or so to caramelize and it was fantastic.

    • Hi Nadz, I covered the pork the first time I made it but haven’t since and it has been fine as the temperature is so low. I do check liquid levels at times and sometimes baste it during cooking.