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What's Cooking at GABA: Slow-Roasted Oven Pulled Pork Sandwiches

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In this edition of What's Cooking at GABA, we'll look at a Carolina classic: pulled pork. This is an excellent option to have in your repertoire for fall Saturdays. You can easily, by the way, roast your pork overnight and pull it in the morning, just in time to make the drive down to the stadium.

I live in an apartment complex and don't have a smoker, so I have to make mine in the oven. That's not really a problem, though, as you can make excellent barbecue in the oven, as sacrilegious as the idea may be to some. This is the third or fourth time I've done this, and for my most recent efforts, I got some good ideas from this guy, whose Youtube channel I would recommend.

Preparing your pork for roasting is easy, but you need to start the day before you plan to cook it. First, you need a pork shoulder. Most people go with the Boston butt, but the picnic works fine, too. (The picnic has tougher meat, but the slow-roasting process makes that problem a non-issue.) Once you get ready to prepare your roast, you need to make a rub. There are a variety of recipes for barbecue rubs online, and you can even buy some premade at the supermarket. However, it's fun to make them on your own, and you can make them to your taste. If you like spicy, put more cayenne in; if you like garlic, put more garlic powder in, etc. After you've got one ready to go, apply it. The first couple of times I made this, I applied the rub straight onto the pork. However, the Youtube chef mentioned above gave me the idea to create a glaze. If you want to take this route, pour some honey and mustard on your roast and spread it on. Then, apply the rub. Wrap the roast in saran wrap and leave it in the fridge overnight. Other options for seasoning the roast prior to cooking include putting it in a brine solution overnight. You can find all sorts of approaches on the internet.

The next day when you're ready to begin cooking, take your pork out of the fridge and let it rise to room temperature. This is what mine looked like before I put it in the oven:


As you can see, it's liberally coated with the honey, mustard, and rub. Another thing you'll notice is the liquid in the bottom of the pan. This is Liquid Smoke. Put some of this and some wood chips in your pan, and wrap the pan tightly with foil. This will give your roast a little bit of smoke flavor, although certainly not what you can get with a good smoker. This is the big drawback of the oven approach.

You'll want to cook your roast at 225 degrees for an hour to an hour and a half per pound. Avoid the temptation to turn the temperature up. You have to cook this stuff slowly, which is why it's a good idea to either do it overnight or to put it in early the morning of the day you plan to eat it. It's done when it's at around 195 degrees. Some recipes will say to go up to 200 degrees, but I've found that the meat gets a bit too soft at that temperature and doesn't pull as well. Once it's done, bring it out and let it sit for a while. Here's what mine looked like when it was done cooking:


Now, you pull the pork. I usually do so by breaking it apart with two forks.

You might also consider making your own sauce, particularly if you like a specific style and live in a place where the supermarkets don't carry much of a selection. There are tons of recipes online for sauce, and once you've made a couple, you can begin to experiment in trying to come up with something that suits your tastes. I made a thin, peppery Piedmont-style sauce that turned out looking like this:


As for the sandwiches, I went with this style from the Youtube chef mentioned above, but of course, you can leave out some fixings and let your tailgate friends make their own.

Bon appetit!