There is something deeply comforting in cooking a big batch of slowly braised meat. I’ve always wanted to make a slow roasted pork shoulder ever since coming across a recipe for this in my first ever proper cookbook – Jamie Oliver’s ‘Cook with Jamie.’ I never got to do it though since I never could find the proper cut of meat for it in Dublin. I did, however, slow roast a monster of a pork shoulder once during our time in France and knew it would be a winner whenever I tried it next.
We’re now in the US where pulled pork is a common item available in many incarnations ranging from pulled pork sandwiches to delicious carnitas filled burritos. I have always spied pork shoulder cuts in the supermarket (Americans sure do have a sense of humour – it is sometimes labeled ‘pork butt’!) and it was only a matter of time before I created my own go to version of pulled pork.
I took inspiration from this ‘The Kitchn’ recipe. A mixture of beer and stock to tenderize the meat and long slow cooking yielded a big bowl of lovely, moist, perfectly tender, shredded pork that we heaped onto sandwiches for the entire week. A perfect make ahead dish when it’s hot outside and you don’t want to slave over a hot stove every day!
Slow Cooked Beer Braised Pulled Pork
For the spice mix –
1.5 tsp fennel seeds
1 heaped tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp spicy Mexican (or other) chilli powder
1/2 tsp cajun spice mix
plenty of salt and pepper
Other ingredients –
3.4lb/1.5kg boneless pork shoulder – if using bone in shoulder then you can cook it as one whole piece without cutting it up
2 medium red onions cut into thick wedges
3-4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2-3 tbsp olive oil
1 bottle of light beer of your choice – I used a bottle of light Modelo
2-3 cups chicken or beef stock/broth
Preheat the oven to 325F/165C. Cut away and discard any excess fat on the pork shoulder, especially on the outer surface. Cut the meat into large chunks. Rub the spice mix all over. Heat the oill in a heavy bottomed pan or casserole. Sear the pieces of meat to get a nice dark brown exterior. Add the onions and garlic to the pan. Pour in the beer and broth making sure there’s enough liquid to cover the meat.
Bring it to a boil. Turn off the heat. Cover tightly with a lid. Place in the oven and cook for about 3.5-4 hours after which time, the meat should become meltingly tender and easily fall apart.
Transfer the meat from the pot to a large mixing bowl and gently shred it using two forks. Strain the cooking liquid left behind in the pot into a cup or bowl. Discard any fat that rises to the top. You may use the liquid to moisten the meat if it looks too dry. I used a little every time I took some of the shredded meat out of the fridge for a meal.
Use the succulent shreds of fork tender meat to make sandwiches, burgers, burritos or even pasta sauce. With a little imagination, you can easily adapt the spice mix to create countless variations – Asian, Middle Eastern, anything is possible!