Indoor Pulled Pork with Sweet and Tangy Barbecue Sauce

Published January 1, 2010. From Cook's Illustrated.

Why this recipe works:

In recipes, the phrase “indoor barbecue” is usually code for “braised in a Dutch oven with bottled barbecue sauce.” Unfortunately, this results in mushy, waterlogged meat and candy-sweet sauce. We wanted moist, tender, shreddable meat with deep smoke flavor all the way through, plus a dark,… read more

In recipes, the phrase “indoor barbecue” is usually code for “braised in a Dutch oven with bottled barbecue sauce.” Unfortunately, this results in mushy, waterlogged meat and candy-sweet sauce. We wanted moist, tender, shreddable meat with deep smoke flavor all the way through, plus a dark, richly seasoned crust, often referred to as bark.

Be it indoor or outdoor, with barbecue a good amount of fat is necessary for moisture and flavor, so we chose to use boneless Boston butt because of its high level of marbling. To mimic the moist heat of a covered grill, we came up with a dual cooking method: covering the pork for part of the oven time to speed up cooking and keep it moist, then uncovering it for the remainder of the time to help the meat develop a crust.

To achieve smoky flavor without an actual barbecue pit, we turned to liquid smoke, a natural product derived from condensing the moist smoke of smoldering wood chips. We found that adding it to our brine infused it with smoky flavor without tasting unnatural. For even more smokiness, we employed a dry rub and a wet rub, which we also fortified with smoky flavorings. To serve alongside our pork, we developed three sauces inspired by the variety of barbecue regions and styles: a classic sweet and tangy sauce, a vinegar sauce, and a mustard sauce, all of which we flavored with some of the pork’s defatted cooking liquid.

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Serves 6 to 8

Sweet paprika may be substituted for smoked paprika. Covering the pork with parchment and then foil prevents the acidic mustard from eating holes in the foil. Serve the pork on hamburger rolls with pickle chips and thinly sliced onion. Lexington Vinegar Barbecue Sauce or South Carolina Mustard Barbecue Sauce (see related recipes) can be substituted for the Sweet and Tangy Barbecue Sauce. Alternatively, use 2 cups of your favorite barbecue sauce thinned with ½ cup of the defatted pork cooking liquid in step 5. The shredded and sauced pork can be cooled, tightly covered, and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Reheat it gently before serving.

Ingredients

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