Since you’ve already made the coleslaw from last post—you do cook everything I talk about? no?—now it’s time to procure a large hunk of meat. About 4 ½ pounds of pork shoulder (or pork butt) to be exact. Preferably from a good butcher, one who’s about 80 years old and learned the art of butchering as a young lad. If this is not available, get organic from the supermarket. Now for a spice rub.
It’s paprika, brown sugar, salt, cayenne, garlic, thyme, and red wine vinegar. Buzz it all up in a food processor, stream in a bit of olive oil and it’s time to get your hands dirty. This is the point at which you’ll get to know your meat, its every nook and cranny. Massage it. Get in the hard to reach spots. Whisper a few sweet-nothings. Then place it in a roasting pan, wrap it all up with saran wrap, and tuck it in for the night.
The next day, just pop your pork into the oven and hang around with it for a few hours. You’ll be sniffing the air and growing hungrier and hungrier as the hours pass, but, please don’t eat anything else you’ve got in the fridge—you’ll want to save all the space in your stomach for this puppy. It’s relatively quick as pulled porks go—about 4 hours—so you’ll survive the tempting aroma.
After 4 hours pass, take out your pork to check for doneness. You want a fork to shred the meat easily, in biggish pieces, and the meat should be seriously moist and unctuous. If you feel your head might explode before you shred and can finally chow down, it’s done.
Shred the pork into a mix of big, small, and medium pieces, breaking up the crispy bits and incorporating them into the bowl. Try not to take too many tastes—it’s a give-in that you’ll sneak a few bites but you really need to save room for the completed wrap(s). Tell your dog (or your boyfriend) to stop whining—good pulled pork is a labor of love. It’s time now to salt your coleslaw, heat your tortillas, pour your beer, and take out the extra large roll of paper towels.
Set everything out on the table. Make yourself a wrap before letting anyone else know dinner’s ready, you don’t want to wait in line for this. Eat and ohh and ahh. Toss away the paper towels and forget about wiping your hands—this is fingerlickin’ stuff.
Pulled Pork Wraps
adapted from Tyler Florence’s Tyler’s Ultimate
These wraps are addictive so, if you can, save for a lot of leftovers or midnight snacks.
- 1 boneless pork shoulder (about 4 to 41/2 pounds)
- 4 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup paprika
- 2 to 3 sprigs thyme, leaves only
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- Scant 1 tablespoon cayenne
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 pack of fajita-sized flour tortillas
Place the pork, fat side up, in a roasting pan fitted with a rack insert. Place the salt, pepper, brown sugar, paprika, thyme leaves, garlic, vinegar, and cayenne in a food processor and pulse until well combined. Add extra-virgin olive oil until you have a nice paste.
Rub all over the pork, being sure to get into the nooks so the salt can penetrate the meat and pull out the moisture – this will help form a crust on the outside when cooked.
With a sharp knife, score the fat with in a cross-hatch pattern. Cover the pork with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or up to overnight.
Allow the meat to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before cooking. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Roast the pork for 4 hours, uncovered, until the outside is crispy-brown (it should look like mahogany). Let the meat rest on a cutting board for 10 minutes before slicing.
Warm tortillas in oven for a few minutes. Eat pork wrapped in tortilla with coleslaw.