Pulled Pork Sandwich + Salted Cucumber Salad
Why we love it:
- 5 pounds Boneless Pork Shoulder (aka pork butt. Usually sold in 4-6 pound chunks, any size will be ok. If getting a bone-in roast, look for 7-9 pounds)
- 1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
- 11⁄2 teaspoons Black Pepper
- 1 Tablespoon Paprika
- 1 Tablespoon Dried Oregano
- 1 Yellow Onion (medium in size, skin on, cut in quarters)
- 1 Carrot (medium in size, cut in half)
- 4 cloves Garlic (peeled but kept whole)
- 11⁄2 cups Water
- 1 English Cucumber
- 1 teaspoon Rice Vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Soy Sauce
- 1⁄4 bunch Cilantro
- 1 teaspoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1⁄4 teaspoon Maldon Sea Salt
- 1⁄2 cup BBQ Sauce (your favorite kind)
- 4 Burger Buns
1. PREHEAT THE OVEN TO 325 DEGREES
Arrange a rack in the lower third of the oven.
Trim off any large pieces of fat from the outside of the pork shoulder, but leave small pieces and the interior fat. If using boneless pork, cut the pork into several large fist-sized pieces. If using bone-in, leave the pork as is, on the bone.
Sprinkle the pork with the salt, pepper, paprika and dried oregano. Rub the seasoning into the pork with your fingers so the meat is evenly coated on all sides. Place pork in a large pot with tall sides, a dutch oven, or in a roasting pan.
Add the onion, carrot, and whole garlic cloves to the pan, nestled around the pork in the Dutch oven. Add the liquid. The pork should be only partially submerged, with some of the pork remaining above the surface of the liquid.
3. BRING TO A SIMMER
Place the pot with the pork over medium-high heat and bring the liquid to a simmer. Cover it (with a lid if you have one, or foil) and transfer to the oven.
Cook for 3 to 3.5 hours, until fork tender. Let the pork cook undisturbed for 2 hours, then begin checking it every half hour. Total cooking time could be 2 to 4 hours, depending on how large you cut the pork. If it's bone-in it will take longer to cook. The pork is done when it is fork-tender (when the meat can be easily pierced with a fork without resistance and easily falls apart with a little pressure). If you're cooking pork on the bone, the meat should be falling off the bone. If in doubt, cook the meat another half hour; it's almost impossible to overcook meat with this method.
4. SALTED CUCUMBERS
It might seem rough to do but snap the cucumber in half into a large bowl. You’ll have jagged edges. Snap each piece in half again. Make a small slice with a paring knife in order to be able to snap the piece in half lengthwise. Then snap them all again. This is sometimes called torn, or smashed, cucumber salad and the jagged edges make it interesting, release the liquid, and pick up the dressing differently in all of the nooks and crannies. You could slice it with a knife if you prefer.
To the cucumbers, add the rice vinegar, soy sauce, chopped parsley and olive oil. Gently toss to coat. Sprinkle the Maldon Sea Salt over top and let it sit. (Maldon is a flaky French sea salt, you could use pink Himalayan salt, grey salt, or other large flake salt here. Just don’t add anything like “regular” sea salt, which has very small crystals and will taste much more salty).
5. FINISH THE PORK
Lift the pieces of pork out of the liquid and transfer to a large bowl. When cool enough to handle, use two forks or your fingers to shred the meat into pieces. Remove any large pieces of fat or bones. Smash or chop the onion, carrot, and garlic from the pot and add to the pork.
Strain the cooking liquid into a measuring cup then skim any fat off the top. Mix some of this cooking liquid back into the pork. Start with a little, mix it in. Now add the BBQ sauce and more of the liquid until the pork is as wet or dry as you like.
*You could also decide to mix the BBQ sauce into only half of the pork and reserve the rest for tacos, pasta or another non-BBQ dish.
If your buns are soft and fresh, just slice them and serve. If needed, slice and toast. Heap the warm BBQ pork on buns and top with the lid. Serve the cucumber salad on the side.