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Recipe of the week: Pulled Pork Shoulder

Recipe of the week: Pulled Pork Shoulder

Recipe of the week



(Makes enough for 16 sandwiches)

1 pork neck-end shoulder, weighing 4-5kg

250g house rub

200ml mother sauce

Maldon sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

House rub

(Makes 300g)

10g fennel seeds

1tsp cumin seeds

1tsp black peppercorns

1tsp coriander seeds

100g soft dark brown sugar

50g granulated sugar

10g garlic powder

100g fine salt

15g smoked paprika

30g paprika

1tsp dried oregano

1tsp cayenne

Toast the fennel seeds, cumin seeds, peppercorns and coriander seeds in a dry pan over a medium heat for a few minutes, shaking the pan, until the spices release an aroma. Tip into a bowl and leave to cool. Blitz the toasted spices in a blender to a rough powder. Combine with the remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly. Keep in a sealed container for up to one week.

Mother sauce

(Makes 2.5 litres)

500g dry-aged beef trim, diced

1 litre beef stock

1 litre pork stock

5 shallots, finely diced

50g butter

200ml sweet Madeira

200ml tomato ketchup

60ml French’s mustard

25ml cider vinegar

40ml Worcestershire sauce

1tsp Tabasco

100ml cloudy apple juice

50ml blackstrap molasses

100g pork dripping 
(meat jelly from the smoking)

Fry the dry-aged beef trim in a large pan over a high heat until well browned. Add both stocks and deglaze the pan, then lower the heat and simmer, skimming the surface continuously, until the liquid has reduced by two-thirds. Meanwhile, in another pan, sweat the shallots in the butter for about five to eight minutes, or until soft. Add the Madeira, bring to a simmer and reduce the liquid by half. Add the Madeira mixture to the reduced stock and simmer to reduce the liquid by a further quarter, skimming continuously. Mix together the remaining ingredients, except the pork dripping, and add to the pan. Finally, whisk in the pork dripping until combined. Pass the mixture through a fine sieve before using to baste meat before serving.


Skin the pork shoulder, reserving the skin to cure for scratchings. Depending on the type of pork you are using, there may be a good couple of centimetres of fat under the skin. The more fat that is removed, the better the bark. Bark only occurs from the rub caramelising on the meat. The fat, however, will produce some lovely dripping and protects the meat during cooking.

Prepare a barbecue for smoking and set the temperature to 105°C. 
A shoulder of pork is pretty forgiving, but keeping a constant temperature will produce the best results. Once a decent bark starts to form, the smoke no longer effectively penetrates the meat, so there is no point continuing to add more wood chunks after the first few hours of cooking.

Evenly massage the meat with 200g of the house rub, then smoke it on the barbecue, making sure it is fat (skin) side up. It can take up to 16 hours but can be ready any time after 14 hours, so keep an eye on it and have your meat probe to hand. Cooking times can vary massively – some pork just takes longer than others. The internal temperature should reach 88-90°C. Once it hits this temperature, the pork will have a thick bark and be very dark. It will not be burnt, and will not taste burnt, so don’t panic. The blade bone should pull out with little resistance and the shoulder should fall in on itself if pressed gently from above. Remove the pork and set aside to rest, wrapped in foil, for 30 minutes.

Unwrap the pork and turn it upside down so that the spinal bones are facing upwards. Carefully remove the spinal and rib bones from the underside of the shoulder. The small bones are very sharp, so be scrupulous. The meat around these bones is particularly special, so dig deep and work between the bones to find all you can. Remove the blade bone and the piece of tough cartilage that sits at the tip.

Start to work the meat and pull it apart. A correctly cooked shoulder should not take much work. An overpulled shoulder will be mushy, so keep it in big chunks and strands. Add the remaining rub to taste, sprinkling it evenly like seasoning. Add the mother sauce and work this all through the meat. Check for seasoning, adding pepper and sea salt to taste. Serve immediately, in warm rolls, with pickles, scratchings and slaws.

Recipe from Pitt Cue Co, published by Octopus


Recommended Beer

Jamie Berger of Pitt Cue suggests: “The Kernel Pale Ale – a delicious and refreshing properly hand-crafted ale made in Bermondsey.”

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