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Pulled Pork Shoulder in Black BBQ Sauce

From the book Smoke and Pickles by
Serves 6 to 8


Most BBQ sauces are too sweet for me; I like the saltiness of Asian BBQ marinades. So I started tinkering with conventional notions of BBQ and added some Asian spices to a Southern BBQ sauce recipe. We have had some variation of this sauce on our menu ever since.


Black BBQ Sauce

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 tsp. olive oil
1 lb. onions, chopped
5 garlic cloves, chopped
2 jalapeño peppers, chopped (seeds and all)
cup raisins
½ cup bourbon
½ cup dark coffee
½ cup cola
½ cup ketchup
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp. molasses
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp. black-bean paste
1 Tbsp. dry mustard
2 tsp. ground allspice
2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. smoked paprika
~ Juice of 1 lime
¼ cup Asian sesame oil


¼ cup kosher salt
Tbsp. ground cumin
Tbsp. smoked paprika
Tbsp. freshly ground black pepper


1 pork shoulder roast (5 pounds total), skin on


  1. Make the BBQ sauce: In a Dutch oven, melt the butter with the olive oil over low heat. Add the onions, garlic, jalapeño peppers, and raisins. Cover the pot and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions start to brown and caramelize on the bottom of the pot, about 5 minutes. Deglaze the pan by adding the bourbon, coffee, and cola. Scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon and simmer until the liquid has reduced by about half.
  2. Add the ketchup, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, molasses, Worcestershire sauce, and black-bean paste, and simmer over low heat for about 5 minutes. Add the mustard, allspice, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and smoked paprika, and simmer for about 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the sauce to cool for about 15 minutes.
  3. Transfer the sauce to a blender, add the lime juice and sesame oil, and purée on high until you achieve a smooth, thick sauce. Taste. Is it good? Adjust the seasonings to the way you like it. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate; bring to room temperature when ready to use. (The sauce will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a month.)
  4. Make the rub: Combine all the rub ingredients in a bowl.
  5. Make the meat: Put the pork shoulder in a large baking dish or other container and pat a thick layer of the rub over the entire surface. Let stand in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours to give the pork a quick cure.
  6. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  7. Wrap the shoulder loosely in aluminum foil and set in a roasting pan. Pour a little water, about ½ cup, into the foil package. Roast for 2½ hours. Check the meat. Does it pull away from the shoulder-blade bone when you poke it with a fork? It is done.
  8. Carefully transfer the pork to a cutting board. It is easier to pull the meat while it is still hot. Use two forks: one to hold the shoulder in place and the other to shred the meat, using a downward motion.
  9. Moisten the meat with just enough BBQ sauce to flavor it but not so much that it overpowers the pork. Transfer to a platter and serve hot.

This content is from the book Smoke and Pickles by Edward Lee.

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