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 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.
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.
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 –
*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.