Beer-braised pork shoulder – i.e. pork sandwiches with provolone and pickled peppers

Did you know you can make your own brown sugar?  True story.  Thank goodness because when I came from the butcher bearing 2 1/2 lbs of bone in pork shoulder, I had forgotten that I had finished off the last of my brown sugar on espresso crinkles.  Luckily, I always keep some molasses and plain granulated white sugar on hand.  A little spin in the food processor…

and voila.  No one would be the wiser.  Except you, reader.  And I’ll thank you to keep it under your hat, please.

So I varied the rub a bit from last time – basically, I didn’t want the earthiness of the cumin or the floral note of the coriander this time.  I wasn’t sure how the beer sauce was going to turn out.

Beer Braised Pork Shoulder


3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp ground mustard seed

Mix ingredients together.


2 – 3 lbs pork shoulder (also known as the butt), preferably bone-in

Vegetable Oil as needed
1 large carrot, medium dice
1 stalk celery, medium dice
1 small onion, medium dice
2-3 cups beer o’ choice

I generously salted the pork.  Once salted, I rubbed it with the spice mixture.  Then I preheated the oven to 250.  I seared the pork on all sides in a high-sided cast iron pan on medium high in a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil.

I removed the pork and added  a bit more vegetable oil, and sautéed the carrots, onion, and celery until lightly caramelized.  Then I added a cup of the beer and scraped up all the brown bits from the bottom.  I brought this to a boil.

Then I turned off the heat, poured more beer in the pan, until it came a third to a half of the way up the sides of the pork and popped that bad boy in the oven.

I know what you're saying. Jaime, did you just put baby in a corner? It's the fat cap, people. No, that wasn't an insult. No really, you look fine. Great even. Stupendous, in fact. Did I tell you how nice your hair looks today? Seriously, the reason I had to prop my meat up like this is that the fat cap was on the top, and it wouldn't stand in the middle on its own. Placing it fat cap up will help baste the meat as it cooks.

I tested it at 2 hours by inserting a fork. It needed about 3 1/2 hours, as I recall.  Really depends on the size of your meat.  The fork will tell you.  It should have no resistance whatsoever, like a well cooked baked potato.

When you take it out, shred it with two forks.

Hey there, mound o' pork. You're looking good. Real, real good.

If you want to make a sauce from the beer/drippings, strain the vegetables out  and return to pan. Make a slurry by mixing equal parts cornstarch and water. A couple of tablespoons of each should do it, but add a little a time, stirring it into the sauce on low heat, until it reaches the consistency you like.

I added a little brown sugar, a splash of red wine vinegar and, of course, salt and pepper to my sauce.

It was good, I won’t deny it.  Very good, even.  But… I found that for me, it couldn’t beat out plain ol’ barbecue sauce as an accompaniment to pulled pork.

Good thing I had the ingredients on hand to make some barbecue sauce.  Why would I make my own barbecue sauce you say?  Glad you asked.

Here’s my tweakable go to – this only makes 1/2 cup of sauce, so multiply as needed.  Will keep in the fridge for weeks.

Barbecue Sauce

1/4 cup organic ketchup*
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
splash of organic worchestire**
pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)

Mix all ingredients together.

I tossed a serving of pork in the sauce, toasted some homemade sourdough brushed with garlic oil and topped with provolone, slapped on some of the pickled banana peppers I did a few weeks back, and voila –

Sandwich nirvana.

*Heinz’ “Simply Heinz” is my choice only because I grew up on Heinz and nothing else tastes the same to me. You could probably sub this for 1 part tomato puree and 1 part sugar, but I keep ketchup around for my out-of-hand french fry consumption, and I don’t typically have tomato puree on hand.  Whatever does it for you.

**Yes, worchestire sauce has high-fructose corn syrup too.  I know.  It also has like 10 ingredients so I’m not willing to make my own.  I like Annie’s natural brand.


One thought on “Beer-braised pork shoulder – i.e. pork sandwiches with provolone and pickled peppers

  1. Pingback: The Sandwich – Braised Short Rib Sandwich | CookSmarts

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