Recipe: Spicy Pulled Pork

A bonus recipe from Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/Day by Leanne Brown

Kara Rota
2-minute read

Pulled pork is incredibly flavorful, rich, spicy, and remarkably versatile. Although it seems expensive, it’s quite a bargain when you look at the price per serving. As with many special meals, this one takes quite a long time to prepare. Most of the time, however, is just spent waiting for it to cook “low and slow.”

My favorite way to serve pulled pork is over squishy hamburger buns or in tacos with crunchy vegetables. Pulled pork sandwiches are great with cabbage slaw, so try using the Wilted Cabbage Salad (link to other recipe here). Serve with a simple green salad, corn on the cob, steamed green beans, or any other summery vegetables.

serves 10

1/3 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons ground coffee

2 tablespoons kosher salt

4 teaspoons smoked paprika

3 teaspoons sweet paprika

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 pork shoulder (about 5 pounds)

1.) Make a dry rub by mixing all of the ingredients except the pork in a small bowl.

2.) Apply the rub liberally to the pork shoulder, pressing it gently into the meat until you’ve covered every side. Set any leftover rub aside for later.

3.) Place the pork shoulder in a large pot with a tight-fitting lid. Leave it in the fridge for 2 hours or overnight to let the flavors seep in.

4.) Preheat the oven to 200°F.

5.) Pour enough water into the pot to cover the bottom. Put the lid on and place the pot in the oven for 10 to 12 hours. The rule of thumb is 1½ to 2 hours per pound of pork, but I find it usually takes a little longer than that. You want the internal temperature to reach 200°F.

If you don’t have a meat thermometer, figuring out the internal temperature is trickier, but you can test it by feel. Poke the meat with a finger: When it’s so soft that it falls apart on its own, take it out of the oven. It’s hard to overcook it at such a low temperature, so don’t be too concerned about that.

6.) Remove the meat from the juices and gently tear the pork apart with two forks or your hands. Discard any larger bits of fat. If any section is hard to tear apart, the meat hasn’t cooked enough. If you have the time to spare, put it back in the oven for another couple of hours.

7.) Once you’ve pulled all of the pork, mix in any remaining rub and transfer it to a casserole dish or a large plate. If you aren’t eating the meat right away, stash it in the fridge, covered, for 3 to 4 days. 

Reprinted with permission from Good and Cheap by Leanne Brown, copyright © 2015. Published by Workman Publishing. Photography credit: Leanne Brown and Dan Lazin/Good and Cheap.

About the Author

Kara Rota

Kara Rota headed children’s programming at Chicago’s Green City Market and studied food politics at Sarah Lawrence College. Kara has been a featured speaker at numerous venues including Food Book Fair, the Roger Smith Food Conference, and the Brooklyn Food Conference. She has written about food for Irish America Magazine, West Side Rag, Recipe Relay, and Food + Tech Connect, and is the former Director of Editorial & Partnerships at Cookstr.com.