Pulled Pork

As you cam tell by my writing style, I’m no global visionary.  No, I’m a linear.  Long before the Myers-Briggs had diagnosed my character traits, true fulfilment was found in making a list of all the things on my mind, prioritizing it, then ticking the items off. Others may laugh ( they always do!) at us listmakers, but we experience a transcendent bliss when every item on the list is stricken off, and a new, blank page beckons.

Pulled Pork marinating in Smoked Paprika Rub

And so it is with my youngest daughter’s 18th birthday party which we will have here at home next Saturday night. In my experience, teenagers’ needs are quite simple, when they are met. They like to be made feel welcome.  They want somewhere to gather in groups, talking, laughing, texting.  Given a soundtrack that appeals, they like to dance. Given a TV screen with comfortable sofas, they chat, text and do everything but watch their chosen programme.  They all declare that they need nothing to eat.

“I’m not really all that hungry”
is the mantra of the girl who is afraid to eat lest she gets fat.

“ I’m grand, thanks”
is what the teenage boy says, until his friends begin to show an interest in the food on offer.

Some beer, soft drinks and ash-trays outdoors, and they’re happy.

Obviously they have to be fed.  It’s a standard part of hospitality, even if they haven’t already gone to a friend’s house to “get ready” (standard parlance for putting on make-up in an unsupervised house while having a few shots of vodka).  Confronted by an array of food that they like, they’ll eat some, maybe more and once the ‘leaders of the pack’ partake, they’ll eat everything in sight.  Especially if it’s hand-held.

So here’s my list, 4 days before the event.

– Declutter the party zone
– Do a shopping list for food, drink and party paraphernalia
– Begin the food preparation, now
– Tell our neighbours

The Birthday girl is having a Fancy Dress party and the food will be (broadly) Mexican.


Pulled pork in barbeque sauce
Soft white rolls
Crunchy coleslaw
Tomato salsa
Potato salad
Black beans

Fruit platters

Birthday cake ( chocolate biscuit cake)

So it started yesterday.

I went to Etherson’s Butcher’s in Cabra to collect some pork and will be slow roasting it all week, marinating overnight, slow-roasting the next day and assembling the ‘pulled pork’ in barbeque sauce in the fridge. Yesterday I collected a gigot. 6 lbs of pork for a tenner! Today he gets his weekly delivery and will keep 3 shoulders for me. As the week proceeds, we’ll be clearer about the numbers and can adapt accordingly.

This recipe comes from my brother Rob who lives in Napa, California, and was home to visit over the past few weeks. Rob and his mates know a thing or two about good food. He tells me that this recipe is the stuff of legend so here goes!

Pulled Pork ready for long slow roasting

Pulled Pork

For 10 hungry humans:

6 lbs of pork shoulder.
You can leave the crackling on or off. On protects the joint from drying out.  Ask your Butcher to score it with his very sharp knife.  Off means there’s less work to do later.  One way or the other, crackling afficionados will feel robbed if you don’t provide some on the side.

Smoked Paprika Rub for Pulled Pork

Dry Rub
1 cup / 8 oz of Smoked Paprika (regular will also be fine)
1 cup / 8 oz of brown sugar
3 tablespoons of black pepper
1 tablespoon salt
1 pinch cayenne (or more if you prefer spicy)

This quantity makes enough of the rub to do four 6 lb joints of pork with some over for the next time.

Basting Liquor
1 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Mix the ingredients for the dry rub together and rub well all over meat. Leave for 2 hours or preferably overnight.I use latex gloves for this stage as the paprika stains hands, nails etc.

Next day, heat the oven to 230°C. Place the joint in a roasting tray and roast for 30 minutes. Reduce the heat to 120°C, baste the joint with apple cider vinegar and Worcestershire sauce, cover with tinfoil and continue to roast for another six to eight hours. Every couple of hours, remove from the oven and baste. If the joint has had its crackling removed, you may turn it over, cover with foil again, and return to the oven.

Barbeque Sauce:
2 ozs of butter
2-3 white onions (finely chopped)
1 cup / 8 oz of tomato ketchup
1/2 cup / 4 oz of brown sugar
1 cup / 8 oz of apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons of smoked paprika (or regular)
1 pinch cayenne (or more if you prefer spicy)

Sweat onions in butter
Add ketchup, sugar, vinegar and dry ingredients.
Stir until fully mixed and bring to the boil
Reduce on a slow simmer for about 20 minutes stirring occasionally

Pork will easily shred with two forks when done. Shred the entire piece of pork and place in an oven-proof dish/serving dish.
Add sauce until pork is coated but not swimming in sauce.

Serve on white baps with some fresh coleslaw (not the drowned-in-mayonnaise type- vinegar based dressing is better), and potato salad or baked potatoes on the side.

We’re lucky that we can get the best baps ever,  sourdough ‘Vlaa’s” (akin to the Waterford Blaa) from Arún Bakery in Stonybatter at our local Honest2Goodness Market in Glasnevin.

Pulled pork can be prepared in advance and re-heated the day of the party. Reserve some of the sauce just in case you need to add extra during re-heat.

The kitchen is full of wonderful aromas as I write. Off to Cabra now to collect the next instalment of pork…their refrigeration is much more spacious than mine.

Will report anon and write an epilogue to say how it went…….

About haysparks

Viewing the world, the human condition, our history, evolution and health through the prism of food.
This entry was posted in Buffet, Celebration, feeding teenagers, Pork and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Pulled Pork

  1. I have to admit to being a ‘lists’ person too! You are going to have some mountain of pork there! Have a wonderful party!


  2. earlymodernjohn says:

    I’m definitely making this… keep us updated!

  3. WiseMona says:

    I would so like to be invited to any party at your house. I love lists too. I live by them and the blank page of doneness that awaits when one long list of to-do’s has been ‘done’.
    You are a visionary. I can see every word and taste every mouthwatering bite.
    Great recipe too!

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