This is “faux” barbecue pulled pork at its finest. There’s no need to barbecue pork outside for hours, just do it right in your oven! Liquid smoke in brine and spice rub lend those smoky flavors in the meat. Serve it in a tortilla for carnitas, between two slices of baguette bánh mì-style, or with grains (it goes great with rice and scrambled eggs) and you’re good to go. For me, I like it Filipino-style, in soft, sweet pan de sal buns!
I love barbecue pork, pulled pork, bánh mì Vietnamese sandwiches, and the only sandwiches I truly, absolutely enjoy are those with warm meat in between toasted soft buns. I will eat cold cuts sandwiches, but I won’t crave for it. Now the pulled, barbecued kind? I dream of it.
As soon as I saw this recipe on my Cook’s Illustrated magazine (one of the very few magazines with recipes I can rely on), I knew instantly that I have to make it. Dan made it first and said, “Oh god.” I didn’t need an explanation after that, because no sooner was I saying the same thing, perhaps with a little profanity peppered in. Holy ****.
This will be on the menu again in the near future and the recipe will be doubled, so I can freeze half to enjoy whenever I crave for it.
I just don’t have anything else to say other than: Make it. It’s good for you.
- 1 cup plus 2 teaspoons table salt
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
- 3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons liquid smoke
- 1 boneless pork butt (about 5 pounds), cut in half horizontally
- 1/4 cup yellow mustard
- 2 tablespoons ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons smoked paprika (you can substitute with sweet paprika)
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper ** (see Note)
Sweet and Tangy Barbecue Sauce
- 1 1/2 cups ketchup
- 1/4 cup light or mild molasses
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon hot sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon table salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1. For the Pork: Brine pork in a solution of 1 cup salt, ½ cup sugar, 3 tablespoons liquid smoke and 4 quarts of cold water. Use a large container (cover with plastic wrap) or large ziplock bag/s. Refrigerate for 2 hours.
2. Mix mustard and remaining liquid smoke in a small bowl. Mix pepper, paprika, and remaining sugar and salt, and cayenne in a separate small bowl.
3. Preheat oven to 325°F with the oven rack placed in the lower-middle position. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place a baking wire rack on top of it (so the juices can drip on the baking sheet).
4. Remove pork from brine and pat the meat dry with paper towels. Rub the entire surface of each piece of meat with the mustard paste, and sprinkle with the dry spice mixture. Place pork flat on the wire rack and cover with parchment paper first, then aluminum foil tucked underneath the rim of the baking sheet to seal. Roast pork for 3 hours.
5. Remove pork from the oven and discard parchment in foil. Pour off liquid from the baking sheet into a fat separator. Continue to roast pork in the oven until well browned and tender, for about 1 ½ hours. Meat temperature should register 200°F on an instant-read thermometer.
6. Transfer pork to a serving dish and cover loosely with foil for 20 minutes.
7. For the Sauce: Whisk together ½ cup of defatted liquid and the sauce ingredients in a medium bowl.
8. Shred pork using 2 forks, and mix with 1 cup of sauce and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with remaining sauce with fries, grains, or bread.
Note – You can skip the cayenne if you don’t like it too spicy. The rub already lends enough heat into the meat.