Who loves pulled pork? Who loves waiting 8 hours for it to be ready in a slow cooker? After somewhat successfully converting other slow cooker recipes for a pressure cooker, I set out to do the same with pulled pork.
This wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. There was quite a bit of trial and error involved. That’s not all bad, as there were also a lot of pulled pork sandwiches consumed throughout these experiments. Though not all of them were nearly as tender and scrumptious as I hoped.
Start with a Large Pressure Cooker
I have a 10 quart pressure cooker which can easily hold a 4 pound pork shoulder. In fact, this is the exact Fagor Pressure Cooker that I have That’s the starting point for all of my attempts below….and for all of my pressure cooker recipes.
First, I started off as I would before cooking any large cut of meat. I browned it in the bottom of the pan, hoping to create some delicious fond as a base for the barbecue sauce. What I foolishly didn’t think about is that there is a lot of sugar in the rub and it created a ferocious crust on the bottom of my pan. One that took days to remove.
The next time I pressure cooked the pork shoulder without browning it first. After cooking, it was by no means tender. It was the kind of tough where your mouth gets tired from chewing so much. Some time in the toaster over at 200 degrees helped this a bit. So the next time, I cut the time in the pressure cooker in half and finished it on the grill over low heat with smoke. This wasn’t bad, but that’s a lot of extra hassle and time.
The Secret to Fork Tender Pulled Pork
Recalling that great soups and stocks I’ve made in the past involved the meat cut into pieces for pressure cooking, for the next attempt I cut all of the meat off the bone into 2″ chunks, applied the rub, and cooked it. I was still hoping to use the drippings for the sauce. However, I didn’t have enough water in the bottom, so the water, mixed with the rub, once again scorched the bottom of my cooker. The key is to use plenty of water and forget about salvaging any leftover drippings.
|Meat, cut from the shoulder blade, and mixed with the rub|
This final effort, with plenty of water and small pieces was perfect. 45 minutes in the pressure cooker created a super tender final product that required very little effort to mash. I easily pulled it with a large fork and spoon and mixed in the sauce. There was a lot of nibbling of the meat before they finally made their way to a bun.
|Rubbed pork in the basket inside my pressure cooker|
While the meat is cooking, you can make the barbecue sauce. I went with a vinegar based sauce, mainly because we always have a lot of unfiltered apple cider vinegar on hand. This makes a thick sauce that’s not too vinegary. Adjust the ratios if you like it thinner with more bite.
The great thing is that this is nearly a same day recipe since it takes less than 2 hours end-to-end to create.
- 2 Tablespoons Paprika
- 2 Tablespoons Dried Garlic
- 3 Tablespoons Dark Brown Sugar
- 1 Tablespoon Dry Mustard Powder
- 2 Tablespoons Salt
- 1/2 Cup Good Quality Apple Cider Vinegar such as Bragg's Unfiltered
- 1/4 Cup Brown Mustard
- 3/4 Cup Ketchup
- 1/2 Cup Dark Brown Sugar
- 1 Tablespoon Crushed Garlic
- 1 Tablespoon Dry Rub
- 1 Teaspoon Chili Sauce e.g. Sambal Olek or Sriracha
- 1/2 Tablespoon Liquid Smoke
- Mix all of the dry rub ingredients together in a mini food processor. You won't use all of it, keep some for the next time
- Start with a 4 pound bone-in pork shoulder and carefully cut all of the meat off of the shoulder blade into approximately 1-2 inch cubes and coat with the dry rub in a large bowl
- Place the meat into your pressure cooker's elevated basket. Try to avoid any of it touching the sides
- Pour water into your cooker until it comes up to the bottom of the basket. This was about 2 cups for my model
- Pressure cook on the high setting for 45 minutes and do a quick release
- While the meat is cooking, make the sauce by putting the vinegar, liquid smoke, ketchup and mustard in a sauce pan over low and whisking together. Add the dry ingredients and cook over very low heat.
- Carfeully remove the meat and place in a bowl. If it came out right, you should be able to mash easily with a spoon and fork and then add the sauce