Pork shoulder, aka Boston pork butt, is a perfect cut for delicious pulled pork, where long, slow, moist cooking and the acid of vinegar break down fibrous tissue. It takes time, but mostly cooks by itself. Alden suggests that for 10 servings—no additional labor—cook a 7- to 8-pound roast without changing the other quantities.
Makes 6 or 7 servings.
For the rub:
2 tablespoons whole coriander seed
1 tablespoon fennel seed
1 tablespoon coarse salt
2 tablespoon whole peppercorns
5 pounds pork shoulder, bone-in
1 medium onion, cut in long strips
12 ounces beer (preferably IPA or another hoppy beer)
1 cup apple cider vinegar
3 whole garlic cloves, skin on
White bread or rolls for serving
Toast the coriander seeds, fennel seeds, coarse salt and peppercorns for 30 seconds in a dry pan. Turn them out and crush with mortar and pestle (or in a small food processor). Rub the shoulder all over, patting the spice mixture into the meat. Cover and let it sit in the refrigerator for at least an hour or preferably overnight.
In a large cast-iron, enamel or other heavy pot, or in a slow cooker, brown the pork shoulder over high heat. Don’t be afraid to get it very dark. You may need a tablespoon or so of oil, but if you start on the fatty side you might not. Take the shoulder out. Add the onion and brown for 3 minutes, stirring, then add the beer and vinegar. Scrape the bottom to get all the goodness up and into the liquid. Put the shoulder back in the pot with the garlic cloves and cover. Put the pot in the oven to cook at 250° F. for 6 hours or in the slow cooker on high for 6 hours.
When the meat is done, it should fall off the bone (if not, put it back in for another hour). When done, remove the meat to a plate and let it sit. Heat the juices left in the pot on medium-high, skimming off the fat, and cook until the juices are reduced by half, about 30minutes.Meanwhile pull the meat from the bone and fat. Shred the meat and discard the bone and fat. Or you can chill the meat with juices, and lift off and discard the congealed fat later.
To serve, stir the pulled pork with the concentrated juices, reheating if necessary. Spoon them on white rolls or bread, with vinegar slaw and pickles on the side.