I lived in Texas for about two years— just long enough to grow nostalgic for wintertime and develop a deep love of smoky pulled pork. This recipe isn’t a slow-smoked BBQ, but it is the best bet I’ve found for oven-roasted pulled pork that’s tender and juicy, with lots of crispy, spicy bark—none of that soggy crockpot meat here. After a smoky brine and a rub, you’ll roast your pork low and slow, then pull it, toss it with BBQ sauce, and serve with a tangy apple slaw. It’s great for making ahead, for parties, for dinner, or anytime you want that BBQ feeling without the actual BBQ grill.

You do need about 7 hours from start to finish, although the majority of the time is hands-off. You’ll end up with enough for 24 sliders (perfect for the Superbowl) or 8-10 sandwiches. The pork recipe is from Cook’s Illustrated.

You’ll need:

BBQ sauce, King’s Hawaiian rolls, and pickle slices (optional) for serving

For the brine:

  • A 5lb pork butt
  • 1 C table salt
  • ½ C sugar
  • 3 T liquid smoke
  • 4 quarts water

For the rub:

  • 2 t salt
  • 2 T brown sugar
  • 2 t liquid smoke
  • ¼ C mustard
  • 1 ½ t pepper
  • 2 T smoked paprika
  • 1 t cayenne

For the slaw:

  • ½ C honey-flavored Greek yogurt
  • ¼ C mayo
  • 1 t Dijon mustard
  • 1 t sugar
  • ½ t salt
  • 2 T cider vinegar
  • 3 scallions
  • 1 Granny Smith apple
  • 1 bag coleslaw mix

Start by cutting your pork butt in half horizontally. This will give you more surface area for tasty crispy parts and cut down on cooking time. Add the salt, sugar, and smoke into a container filled with 4 quarts of water (I used a big pot). Stir until it’s dissolved, then add the pork and put the container in the fridge for 2 hours.

When you’re almost at the 2 hour mark, turn the oven to 325F. Cover a sheet pan with foil (trust me on this, I didn’t do it and my pan will NEVER BE THE SAME). Set a rack on the pan and set it aside.

Measure mustard into a cup and add the liquid smoke to it, stirring to combine. Set aside. Add the dry seasonings to a small bowl and stir to combine them, as well.

Pat the pork dry with paper towels, then smear it on all sides with the mustard mixture. Don’t even attempt this with a spoon, just use clean hands. Once it’s coated in the mustard, sprinkle the dry rub evenly on all surfaces, pressing or rubbing to adhere it if necessary.

Set the pork on your prepared rack, then cover the whole thing with aluminum foil. Put the pan in the oven and let it roast for 3 hours.

After 3 hours, take the foil off, and continue roasting for 1.5-2 hours, or until the pork is tender and about 200F in the center. At that point, take it out of the oven and let it sit, covered again with foil, for about 20 minutes. You can use this 20 minutes to make your slaw!

Whisk together the yogurt, mayo, mustard, sugar, salt, and cider vinegar. Chop the white and green parts of the scallions, and cut the apple into matchsticks.

As you chop the apple, dump it into the mayo mix to keep it from browning. Toss the apple, scallions, coleslaw mix, and dressing together.

Pull the pork apart with two forks. You can serve it as is, with BBQ sauce and coleslaw on the side, or you can go ahead and toss the meat with BBQ sauce.

To assemble sliders, cut across the rolls horizontally, pile on the sauced pork, add coleslaw, then top with the top buns. You can separate them yourself or just let people separate them as they grab them. Enjoy!


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