Get Ready For A Pulled Pork Shoulder Reach Around!
Summer has now begun and that means lots of you are gassing up the grills and getting ready to take your beers poolside for the season. I’m sure that some of you probably have some pretty fancy smokers just waiting for some delicious ribs, brisket or just about anything else you can dream up for your BBQs. Unfortunately, a pretty good amount of people aren’t smoking their own meats at home and that’s why I based this recipe around my cast iron Dutch oven and not my outdoor smoker. We’ll cross that recipe when we get to it.
Pork shoulder is a tough cut of meat but that doesn’t mean it has to be a tough meal to make. Dutch ovens are great for cooking shoulder or any other type of meat where you’d like to keep as much moisture trapped in the cooking process as possible. The heavy lid seals tightly so all of the evaporating steam from the meat drips down and bastes the meat as it cooks slowly, breaking down the tough muscle groups in the shoulder and imbuing it with deep flavors. Basically, a Dutch oven is just the OG Crock Pot – and that’s what I like about it. So if you’re without a Dutch Oven, don’t fret, you can still do this in your Crock Pot, you’ll just need a heavy saute pan handy to sear the pork before putting it in your slow cooker (don’t worry, I’ll add note about this later in the recipe as well). In my opinion, given the choice between the two – using the Dutch Oven takes just a step or two more in the effort department but the payoff is incredible.
Now when it comes to pulled pork, be it on a sandwich with some coleslaw or as part of a BBQ platter, I prefer a looser, tangy style BBQ sauce to all others. Nothing against a sticky rib style BBQ sauce, but I really want the flavor of the meat to be the first thing I taste and not a heavy sauce that will only coat my taste buds. I tend to reserve the pan drippings as the base for my sauce.
Now that we’ve got some of the basics out of the way, I think it’s time we talked about the beer. And by “talk about” I mean “you guys giggle about ‘Reach Around’ while I tell you why it was the perfect beer for pulled pork. Reach Around is very easy drinking for an IPA and the hints of beer flavor that come through the meat are spectacular. It was as if the hops in the beer became their own flavor profile within the meat and subsequently in the sauce as well! Think Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (as used in a pretty cool Beer Brat Burger Recipe I saw online once) but even easier on the palette and available in cans, so they’re great for a casual BBQ setting.
Enough talk, here’s the recipe:
1 Pork Shoulder (The one I used was roughly 8lbs)
1/2 Cup Yellow Mustard (It doesn’t have to be Spicy or Stone Ground Mustard, the cheap stuff works just fine)
1 Cup Brown Sugar
1/2 Cup Kosher Salt
2 Tbsp Black Pepper
2 Tbsp Ground Cumin
1 Tbsp Ground Coriander
2 Tbsp Garlic Powder
2 Tbsp Onion powder
1 1/2 Tbsp Smoked Paprika
1 Tsp Dried Chipotle Powder (If you can’t find or don’t have this you can sub in cayenne or crushed red pepper – or leave the heat out entirely if you’re not a fan)
1 Tbsp Herbs De Provence (Thyme, Marjoram, Rosemary, Basil, Fennel, Sage & Lavender. I’ve seen this all over the spice section of most food markets. You can make your own mix of spices if you don’t want another herb combo taking up space on your spice shelf butI really feel the Fennel, Marjoram and Lavender plays really well with the hops and gives the hops its level of flavor in the dish, so make sure those stay in play if you can!)
1 Can of Mispillion River Brewing “Reach Around IPA”
1. Preheat oven to 250 Degrees. Remove Pork Shoulder from packaging and rinse with cold water. Pat with a paper towel until dry. Using a sharp knife, remove the skin. It’s OK to leave a little of the fat on the shoulder.
2. In a large mixing bowl, place your now skinless pork and add yellow mustard. Get your hands messy and coat the pork with the mustard. You want the pork nicely coated in mustard, so if you think you need a little more than 1/2 cup, go for it! You just don’t want the pork dripping with mustard.
3. In a separate bowl, combine all spices and mix until fully incorporated
4. Coat pork in spice mix until completely covered. The mustard will help the spices stick.
5. Heat your cast iron Dutch oven (or saute pan for those at home Crock Potting) over medium/high heat (with enough vegetable oil to just coat the pan) until hot and ready for searing. Place pork in pan and sear on all sides until crispy and dark, roughly 2 min per side.
6. Once you’re done searing your last side, pour the entire beer right over the top of the pork. Let the beer reduce slightly, maybe another 2-3 min before placing the lid on the Dutch oven and putting the whole thing in the oven for roughly 3.5 hours or until cooked all the way through and falling apart. (Crock Pot Squad- Once you’ve let the beer reduce in the pan, place the pork in the Crock Pot and then pour the pan liquid over the top. Cook on Low until done.)
Once the pork is cooked fully, remove from the oven and let cool on the stove top until ready to handle with your bare hands (or two forks if you don’t like getting your hands dirty.) Remove the pork for shredding and strain the remaining liquid. For the sauce, combine liquid with ketchup until the desired consistency is reached, adjusting the flavors with salt and pepper or possibly some apple cider vinegar if you like a little extra vinegary bite.
This recipe was fueled by and uses: