I have been on a pulled pork kick recently—it’s the perfect thing to keep in the fridge for a few weeks, and it makes my tiny apartment smell amazing while in the oven (and my curtains like pork for days after that). I tried the Cooks Illustrated Indoor Pulled Pork recipe without the liquid smoke, and it produced some incredible bark, but the pork’s interior was a little dry for my taste. After a few more attempts, I've settled on cooking the pork shoulder David Chang’s way, brining it overnight and roasted it uncovered for 5-6 hours. During the last hour of the roasting process, I slather my Cilantro BBQ sauce all over the shoulder to produce that ever-coveted bark. The result is perfectly succulent, melt-in-your-mouth meat for my sandwiches. The challah rolls are rich and soft and really absorb the sauce, and the Fennel-Cabbage slaw—inspired by Last Night’s Dinner’s Food52 winning Smokey Pork Burger--adds a perfect tart, refreshing crunch. —PhoebeLapine
For the pork, sandwich, & sauce
½ cup salt
½ cup sugar
1 6lb boneless pork shoulder
10 cloves garlic, minced
3 jalapeno peppers, seeds and ribs removed, minced
1 1/2 cups of your favorite BBQ sauce
2 cups cilantro leaves, finely chopped
½ cup beef broth
8-10 challah rolls, toasted
For the slaw
1 lemon, juiced
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
½ tablespoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large fennel bulbs, trimmed, tough outer leaves removed, and very thinly sliced
1 small head of red cabbage, heart removed, thinly sliced
Combine the salt and sugar in a small bowl. Line a work surface with plastic wrap. Place the pork shoulder on the plastic and cover completely with the salt-sugar mixture, using your hands to work it into the grooves of the meat. Wrap the pork tightly, place it in a baking dish (the meat will release a lot of moisture), and brine it in the refrigerator overnight.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
Uncover the pork shoulder, drain all liquids from the baking dish, and roast the pork uncovered for 5 hours. After the first 2 hours, braise the meat in its own fat every 30 minutes.
In the meantime, make the BBQ sauce: In a medium non-stick skillet, sauté the garlic and jalapeno in ½ tablespoon of olive oil over low heat. When soft and fragrant but not browned, add the BBQ sauce. Bring to a simmer, stir in cilantro, and cook gently for 5-10 minutes, until the cilantro leaves begin to melt away and the sauce has thickened. Remove from the heat, and whisk in ¼ to ½ cup beef broth – you want the sauce rather thin so it moistens the pork without overwhelming it.
After 5 hours, remove the pork from the oven and slather it with Cilantro BBQ Sauce. Return the dish to the oven, turn up the heat to 500 degrees, and roast for another 15-20 minutes, until the bark has formed.
Allow the pork to rest for 20 minutes, then shred it with a fork. Combine the pulled pork with enough of the remaining BBQ sauce to moisten it thoroughly. Top each challah roll with the pork, fennel-cabbage slaw (recipe follows), and additional sauce as desired.
For the slaw
In a medium bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, mustard, vinegar, sugar, and salt. Add the remaining ingredients and toss to combine.
Phoebe is a writer, gluten-free chef, culinary instructor, award-winning blogger, and author of The Wellness Project. You can find her healthy comfort food and gluten-free finds on www.FeedMePhoebe.com