Sunday Dinner: Pulled Pork Barbecue

I set the plate down in front of Damon and said, maybe a little defensively, “I followed the recipe exactly.”

It wasn’t so bad. The recipe called for a vinegar-based sauce. I love vinegar, but this was VINEGAR. I grew up with the tomato-based variety of barbecue sauce, which I love like I love little kittens. I’m not even going to start the regional debate. I’m sure my friends at The Communal Skillet would be happy to get into it with you. For me, though, this sauce was more eye-watering than mouth. And after the leftovers concentrated in the fridge — whoa.

So I got this 5-pound pork roast — Boston butt. Research tells me that this is actually the shoulder, but whatever. I was relieved to see there was no bone. I’m learning to face down a hunk of raw meat, but I’m nowhere near sanguine (get it?) about it. Alden was not at all put off. And he did know what he was looking at. He helped me coat the whole thing with a spice rub, testing each one individually as we mixed it up. His verdict… brown sugar is awesome and paprika causes him to make a sound like a fog horn.

Here’s where I learned that all-day recipes crush my puny scheduling abilities. Friday afternoon, when I started this, I noted that the rub needed to sit on the roast anywhere from an hour to overnight. That extra hour killed my hopes of getting it on the table before kid bedtime, so overnight it was. Shift pulled pork dinner to Saturday night.

Alden’s birthday party was Saturday morning, but somehow we didn’t come home until 3. This had something to do with Alden, his friend M, and M’s mom being lost on nature center grounds for an hour+. But it also had something to do with me totally forgetting about the pork roast because I was having fun running around in the woods. Shift pulled pork dinner to Sunday.

I don’t know how Sunday got away from me. I put the pork in the oven for its 6-hour roast at around 3:30. So, sandwiches for dinner! I put Alden to bed that night and, as I often do, I dozed myself. Laying there in a dreamy haze I realized that my little experiment was still in the oven. Damn! Damn! I do not want to get up and fool with this at nigh-on-10-o’clock. What else was I going to do, though? So at 9:45 I was completely tired and staring at this meat that I was supposed to “pull” using two forks. Fork that, man. I lasted about 10 minutes and then started shredding it with my (washed! washed!) hands, burning my fingers and cursing as I went.

I don’t know. There are big pockets of fat(?) in the middle of the roast. Fat makes meat delicious, I realize. But big globs of it that bring their own gross texture? That can’t be right. I kept throwing big hunks of questionable bits into the garbage. The more impatient and frustrated I got, the bigger the hunks. I tried hacking some off with a knife. Some of the meat texture seemed strange. I threw that away too. I would say my 5 pounds of meat ultimately yielded about five sandwiches worth of barbecue.

Damon liked it enough to eat it all up in the course of a few days. I’d wondered, considering my past love of barbecue sauce, if this would be the dish that would catapult me back into full-time carnivore. It was not.

Oh, and the cole slaw. I’d already tasted the barbecue sauce so I adapted the recipe a little bit to help chill things out. I left out the red pepper and Dijon, and I also halved the onions. It was a good impulse. That I will eat right down to the bottom of the bowl.

Recipe #13: Pulled Pork Barbecue from


3 responses to this post.

  1. This is making me laugh and laugh. I find large hunks of meat to be such a pain in the ass. The gobs of fat! I cannot abide that!


  2. Way to go! Not *just* cooking meat, but tearing it apart with your BARE HANDS. You’ll be out hunting your own dinner in no time.


  3. Kinda sounds like carnitas (at least the version I make, that requires fork-shredding). I cheat. Take pork, marinate overnight, stick in a little water in the slowcooker all day until tender and falling apart. Shredding is easy at that point.


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