Tiny Kitchen Magic: BBQ Pulled Pork with Maple Chipotle BBQ Sauce

As promised, it’s time to complete the Wonder Twins one-two punch from my mini BBQ series. Last month I showed everyone how to make amazing collard greens – the best barbecue side on the planet. This month, it’s time for the main event. This is what I consider to be my “signature” dish that has nothing to do with pasta. This is my BBQ Pulled Pork with Maple Chipotle BBQ Sauce.

First of all, a few things. The ingredient list can be quite overwhelming, but please don’t be intimidated by this. It might sound like a lot, but it really isn’t. What can be intimidating are the steps and the time it takes to make this recipe. Believe me when I say, 100% worth it.

I would also like to add that it is best to do this in the winter because with the cooking method your kitchen and / or your entire apartment gets hotter than any human should have to endure. My little apartment becomes a giant sauna in summer. It’s not great. Okay, enough talk! Let’s cook !!

Here is the list of laundry ingredients:

  • 1 3-4 lb bone-in pork shoulder
  • Lots of liquid *
  • ½ – 1 cup of salt
  • ½ – 1 cup of sugar
  • 3 bay leaves
  • handful of peppercorns
  • 4 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 32-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 2-4 chipotle peppers with adobo sauce **
  • ½ – ¾ cup of maple syrup (the real thing) ***
  • 2 ½ tablespoons of cumin
  • 2 ½ tablespoons ground coriander
  • 2 ½ tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons of brown sugar
  • ¼-3/4 tsp cayenne pepper **
  • 2 teaspoons of cinnamon
  • 1 tsp of ground mustard
  • 2 teaspoons of yellow mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (fun fact, I typed that right the first time)
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 teaspoons of ground black pepper
  • A pile of ice cream

OK, now that we’ve got that sorted out, let’s start this. Oh yeah, did I mention you have to do these steps the night before you cook the pork? Yes I am sorry. You should brine your pork before cooking it. You can brine it for a few hours, but you won’t get all the flavor you want. If you notice, there is an asterisk next to the liquid. This is for two reasons. A: You need enough liquid to completely cover the pork shoulder. Two: I don’t always use water, but you are more than welcome. I tend to do more in the fall than in the summer, and in the fall, apple cider is much easier to find. Pork and apples go hand in hand like Laverne and Shirley. NEVERTHELESS!! Make sure you don’t put too much of it, as you will be using ice to cool the liquid, and it will add bulk. The giant piece of pork will do this as well and you don’t want your brine to spill all over the place.

Put your liquid in a very large saucepan. Add salt, sugar (if using water), bay leaves, peppercorns, 1 tbsp. cumin, 1 tbsp. cilantro, 1 tbsp. You have to do this to dissolve the sugar and salt. You can add other spices or other flavors to it as you wish. Sometimes I add orange zest. Although the last time I did this things got worse.

Whoops. Someone has lost their grip on the pot. I was more angry with the plate than the brine. Either way, make it piping hot and stir until the sugar and salt dissolve. It should be strong enough both salty and sweet. If not, add more. If so, turn off the heat and add enough ice to bring it back to room temperature. It is very very important. You don’t want to put the pork in a hot liquid and let it sit. It would be catastrophic. Once the weather is nice and cold, put the pork in, cover and let sit in the fridge overnight.

Now that it’s early the next day, take the pork out and pat it dry. Set your oven to 250 degrees. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Take 1 tablespoon of cumin, coriander and chili powder, 1 tablespoon of brown sugar, cayenne pepper (** use as much depending on the degree of spice you want), 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, a little salt and black pepper and mix in a bowl. Rub this mixture all over the pork shoulder, rubbing it to make sure it is evenly coated. Take the pork shoulder and sear it on all sides in the pot, about 1 to 2 minutes per side or until golden brown. Cover it and put it in the oven for, wait, 9 hours. Yes, I said what I said. 9 hours. Go read a book. Go play a game. Watch some football if you are doing this on a fall Saturday or Sunday. Take a nap. I don’t care, let it go for 9 hours.

After 8 hours, it’s time to make the sauce. You read this list of ingredients correctly, I don’t use ketchup in my sauce. I think maple syrup has enough sugar that ketchup is just useless. Crushed tomatoes will do just fine. Put a saucepan over medium-low heat. In a blender, combine the chipotle peppers and adobo sauce (** see note on cayenne pepper above), tomatoes, maple syrup (*** only as much as for the desired level of sweetness) and 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar and stir until the peppers are completely mashed. Throw everything in the pan. Add the remaining ½ tablespoon of cumin, cilantro and chili powder to the mixture. Add the ground mustard and the yellow mustard as well as the Worcestershire sauce (it’s double !!). Mix, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer until the pork is cooked.

Now is the time to get the pork out and shred it like Mike McGill in a half pipe. There are several ways to do this. The usual way is to take two forks and go overtake Freddy Kruger on them. Before doing my method, be sure to remove the bone. It should come out clean and without resistance. Now take that piece of meat and do one of two things: use a hand mixer in a bowl, or if you’re a boss like me, use your stand mixer with the whisk.

Yeah, yeah, that’s the chicken from the chili recipe, but I had to show it again. Any meat that needs to be grated can be prepared this way. Why do all this manual labor? Didn’t you work hard enough and sweat enough for 2 days to do this ?? I know I am ready at this point. Check out this beautiful pic of meat, clean bones and the old-fashioned Instagram filter!

Well folks, there you go. BBQ pulled pork with maple chipotle sauce. Serve it with one of these delicious cabbages, cornbread and coleslaw (recipe not included) and you’ve got one hell of a barbecue feast.

This will make about 8-10 servings of sauce and pork. I like to freeze half of each and take them out a month or two later when I feel like barbecuing. Or, if you have a large family, it will surely feed them.

Remember, if you have any questions, comments, or comments, you can email me at [email protected] I would love to hear from you which recipes you tried and what didn’t work for you OR how you adapted them to your style. Until next month, take care of yourself!

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