I have trouble coming up with leftover recipes for pulled pork because all I want to do is eat it out of the pan with my hands. By removing most of the fat, which is not needed when cooking sous vide, the jus is liquid gold to dip and reheat the pork. The seasonings need to be chunky, so invest in some smoked sea salt, cracked pepper — not ground — and good quality smoked paprika. The size of the shoulder does not matter — it depends on what you can get and will fit in your sous vide. It does cook for 24 hours, so it should be at least 1 kg or 2 lbs.
2 tablespoons (20 g/30 ml) smoked sea salt
2 tablespoons (12 g/30 ml) cracked black pepper (or very coarsely ground)
1 tablespoon (6 g) smoked paprika
2 bay leaves
1 pork shoulder/pork butt, minimum 2 lbs (1 kg)
Set up the sous vide in a location that is not in the way because it will be there for 24 hours. If you are using a circulator, you may want to protect the countertop surface because this is a fairly hot temperature. Fill with hot water and set temperature to 164°F/73°C.
Prepare the rub by combining salt, pepper, and paprika in a small bowl and mix well with a fork.
Get a large baking sheet and put a cutting board used for meat on it (normally the red one). You will need a large, sharp knife to trim the shoulder. Remove packaging and place the meat on the cutting board. Use the point of the knife to make a cut between the fat and pork. Get a paper towel and grab the skin and fat, and holding it up, use the knife to make cuts between the fat and the pork, using the weight of the meat to pull it away from the skin and fat. Continue until the skin is removed from the shoulder. Trim off any large portions of fat from the outside.
Sprinkle rub onto meat and massage into each surface. Turn and repeat until it is all covered with rub (now you know why we needed the baking sheet). Leave at room temperature for 1/2 hour so the rub sticks to the meat before bagging.
Create a sous vide bag if you don’t have one pre-sealed by cutting a large section and triple sealing one end. Carefully add the pork to the bag and put one bay leaf on each side between the bag and the pork. Vacuum seal and triple seal the end.
If you are using an Instant Pot, then put the trivet in the bottom of the pot and remember to switch to vent when you put the lid on. I use a Post-it note on the lid to remind myself. Add the pork to the sous vide and cook for 24 hours. Float a small casserole dish or bowl partially full of water to weigh the joint down in the water. Be careful, the water is hot enough to scald you.
Use a roasting tin to transfer the pork from the sous vide, being careful to avoid burning yourself. Prepare a large container or bowl (I use a large Pyrex jug) in the sink to collect the juice. Hang the bag over the edge of the sink with a corner of the bag in the bowl. Cut the corner off of the bag with scissors and collect the jus. You may need to make another small incision at the top of the bag to let air in and get all the jus out. Transfer the jus to a saucepan and heat to boiling to finish the sauce.
Place the pork in the roasting tin and remove the bag with scissors. Pull the pork into strands using two large forks, or if you are doing this a lot, then invest in a pair of plastic bear claws, which are great. Make sure you pull the pork into the size of shreds you want, because once you refrigerate it for storage, it is very difficult to achieve the texture you have at this point (think greasy instead of slippery).
The jus can be stored in a plastic container in the fridge for when you need it. Don’t be tempted to scrape the orange brown surface off the jus when you are using it because that has all the flavour from the spices.
This is difficult because serving pulled pork is just as religious as cooking pulled pork. As toppings you can have:
- BBQ sauce
- Apple sauce
- Coleslaw – mayonnaise based
- Coleslaw – vinegar based
However you serve it, make sure you dip it in the jus or add a spoonful or two before any topping just to add that spicy touch and moisten it.
Here are the excellent recipes from
“Leftovers By Design”
that use leftover pulled pork…
- Pulled Pork Stuffed Peppers
This is a Middle Eastern take on stuffed peppers, and is the recipe to use when the sad day that there is no more pulled pork jus arrives. I use cashews instead of pine nuts because I cannot understand paying over the odds for something that has no flavour. The sumac adds a sharp citrus flavour without using lemon juice. Try to buy peppers with four lobes so they sit flat in the oven.
- Peking Pulled Pork
I love Peking duck, but I have never gone through the hassle of actually making it. This is my take on Peking pork using pulled pork with cabbage leaves for pancakes. My sauce uses dates for sweetness to balance the tart plums. Once you have made the sauce, this is a five-minute meal.
- Pulled Pork and Leek Pie
This is a quick and easy way to use up the last of the leftover pulled pork and jus. This recipe uses xanthan gum to thicken the jus into gravy, and the leeks add sweetness. Cover the pie with cauliflower mash or mashed sweet potato, which is very nice.
- Pulled Pork Plated Fajitas
Fajitas without the wrap should be called taco salad, I guess. Whether you eat them with your hands in a flour tortilla or with a knife and fork, these are very satisfying. The pulled pork jus is full of pepper and smoked paprika, which adds a mild spice in the background. If you like a little more heat, use more sriracha to serve.
- Pulled Pork Chili
This chili has evolved from using pork and beef stewing meat to a vegetarian version, and now using leftover pulled pork, which I think is the best yet. The chipotles add a smoky flavour and provide a spicy aftertaste. The chocolate provides a richness and a shine to finish the dish. The main portion of the chili can be made ahead of time, then the meat, beans, and chocolate are added before serving.