We absolutely love BBQ and jump at any chance to get good pulled pork, wings or ribs. But it’s expensive and we never have leftovers. That’s where this recipe comes in! I’ve been trying to master oven-baked pulled pork for years now, but have never been happy with the results. However, since my citrus carnitas were such a huge hit, I decided to give a smoky version a try one last time- I’m so glad I did! Because this pork is crazy delicious! Incredibly flavorful, moist and super duper easy to make.
First, you’ll need a large piece of pork. I’m talking a 5 pound pork butt or shoulder, you know the ones that are marbled with fat and usually have nice little cap on top. Slice the cap off, then cut the pork into a few pieces and then season it with my homemade rub. I made a blend using salt, pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, cumin and brown sugar. When the meat is seasoned place it into an oiled Dutch oven set over medium-high heat. Why a Dutch oven? Because they’re perfect for braising and oven roasting meat. Their enameled surface lends to crispy exteriors and and easy release. Plus you can sear, simmer and transfer the pot directly to the oven. That’s huge. (I LOVE my Le Creusets and use them on a daily basis). If you don’t own one see my NOTES at the bottom of the recipe for an alternative method.
Anyway… sear your meat on both sides (if it’s a tight fit you may want to do it in 2 batches so you don’t overcrowd the pot (by the way I have an oval 5 qt. dutch oven and it fits everything perfectly… I’d highly recommend the oval shaped one over the round for the space)). Then pour in a mixture of mustard, water, apple juice, and apple cider vinegar. Bring to a simmer, cover and then transfer to the oven. Bake at 325 degrees for 3 – 3 ½ hours or until the meat is fork-tender. The liquid will evaporate over time leaving just a tad bit at the bottom of the pot. That’s exactly what you want!
Remove from the oven, let the meat cool for a few minutes and then transfer to a plate to shred. I like to add ¼ cup of water to the shredded meat to keep it nice and moist. Trust me- it won’t get soggy or weird, it’s actually kind of necessary. Of course if you want to toss it in BBQ sauce you can do that too, just add a little at a time, maybe a ¼ cup total and then a little water if needed. You don’t want to overpower the the ridiculously awesome flavor of the pork, trust me!
Serve and devour immediately. You can toss it on buns or eat it as-is. Either way it’s downright delicious. My husband couldn’t stop raving about it… and that’s huge! I hope you’ll give this oven-baked pulled pork a try, I know you’ll love it 🙂
- 1 (5 lb) boneless pork butt or shoulder
- 1 tbsp. coarse salt*
- 5 tsp. black pepper
- 5 tsp. paprika
- ¾ tsp. cayenne pepper
- ¾ tsp. garlic powder
- ¼ tsp. cumin
- ¼ c. brown sugar
- 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
- ¼ c. spicy brown mustard or yellow mustard
- 1 c. water, divided
- ¾ c. apple juice
- ¼ c. apple cider vinegar
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Adjust oven rack to middle lower position (so that your pot fits).
- Cut the fat cap off of the large chunk of pork. Slice the pork into about 8 large chunks. You'll want the pork to remain marbled with fat, but if there are giant spots, it's ok to remove them.
- In a small mixing bowl, combine the salt, pepper, paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, cumin, and brown sugar. Rub the mixture over the pieces of pork.
- In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add the vegetable oil. When the oil is hot, add the pork and sear. When the meat is crispy and brown flip and continue to sear the other side (I let mine go for about 4 minutes on each side).
- Meanwhile, whisk together the mustard, ¾ c. water, apple juice and apple cider vinegar. Pour over the braised pork, bring to a simmer. When the mixture is rapidly bubbling, cover and transfer to the preheated oven and bake (braise) for 3-3½ hours or until the meat is fork-tender and the liquid is almost entirely gone.
- Remove from the oven and take the lid off. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before transferring the meat to a cutting board or plate. Using two forks, shred into bite-size pieces. Toss with remaining ¼ c. of water, serve immediately.
-If you don't own a Dutch oven, simply braise the meat in a large skillet, pour in the mustard mixture, bring to a simmer and then transfer everything to a 9X13 ceramic or glass dish. Cover with foil and bake according to the directions.
-If you want the meat to taste more like BBQ with a smokier flavor, try adding a few drops of liquid smoke to the liquid mixture.
-After adding the water at the very end, you can toss the pork in your favorite BBQ sauce (about ¼ c.) for a more flavorful pork. Or simply top it with sauce!
Recipe source: Life Made Simple