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Dutch Oven Pulled Pork

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Tender Dutch oven pulled pork served with a finger-licking gravy. Minimal effort for juicy roast pork that can be served in so many ways.

I admit, it takes a while to cook this Dutch oven pulled pork, but the work involved is really reduced to a minimum. Mix some ingredients, rub the pork with the mixture and let cook. Nothing else to do anymore. Just the sauce when everything else is ready. And that only takes a few minutes.

dutch oven pulled pork on a platter.

Why use a Dutch oven?

A Dutch oven is my favorite kind of pot, I really have 5 of them in different sizes, shapes, and colors (Amazon affiliate link). Something for almost any kind of meal I cook, from simple soups or stews to beef or pork roasts, any kind of chicken dish I can think of, and even whole turkeys.

This kind of pot is heavy and thick enough to conduct and retain heat and deep enough to handle large amounts of ingredients and liquid. It can be used on the stove, in the oven and outside.

It is perfect for making pulled pork or for braising large pieces of meat because of the way it manages to retain and distribute the heat evenly, you can maintain that low cooking temperature for a very long time and that makes the meat so meltingly tender and delicious.

overhead picture of a plate with shredded meat, mashed potatoes and sauce.

What is the best cut for pulled pork?

  • The shoulder is the best piece, but the shoulder is a more generic name. The piece you are looking for is called the pork butt or Boston butt. Called butt despite the fact that is cut from the front part side of the animal and not the lower side like the name – butt – might imply. The rear end piece is actually called the ham.
  • This piece of meat has the right amount of fat, which prevents it from becoming dry and helps create a melty, juicy roast.
  • If you cannot get this particular cut, picnic shoulder, located directly below the butt is fine as well, but normally it tends to be slightly firmer.
  • For this recipe, you will need a pork shoulder weighing between 1.8 and 2.7 kg/ 4-6 lbs. I often have a boneless shoulder, but one with bone-in is fine as well. In this case, it should weigh about 2.2-3.2 kg/ 5 to 7 lbs.
  • This amount of meat really feeds a crowd, so for us, it’s like one-time cooking and three days of eating. Or freezing at least 1/3 of the leftover shredded meat.
uncooked pork butt on a cutting board.

Other needed ingredients:

  • Fine sea salt and ground black pepper
  • Dijon mustard or any other kind you like, preferably medium, not too hot.
  • Tomato paste (the thick paste, not tomato sauce)
  • Paprika: sweet and smoked
  • Garlic powder
  • Red chili flakes or cayenne pepper. Always use to taste.
  • 1-2 onions
  • 1 apple
  • A few bay leaves
  • Stock: either chicken or beef stock.
tender pork butt shredded on a platter.

How to make pulled pork in a Dutch oven?

  • The first step is optional, but I take it whenever possible. Rubbing the meat with salt and letting it sit in the fridge overnight will help season the meat more deeply. Rub the pork shoulder with salt, wrap it in plastic foil and refrigerate overnight. Remove it from the fridge about 1-2 hours before cooking, rub it with the marinade mixture and let sit on the counter.
  • To make the rub mix together mustard, tomato paste, both paprika sorts, garlic powder, red chili flakes, salt, and pepper.
collage of two pictures of mixing rub and rubbing meat with it.
  • Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius/ 320 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Prepare the rest of the ingredients: peel and slice the onion into half rings, chop the apple (there is no need to peel it, but you can do it, if you like).
  • Heat the oil in the Dutch oven and saute the onion with a pinch of salt on medium-low heat for about 8 minutes until soft. Stir occasionally and add a splash of water if necessary. The onions should become slightly golden, but now brown.
  • Add the apple and continue cooking for about 5 minutes.
collage of two pictures of cooking onions and apples.
  • Place the meat on top, add bay leaves and pour the stock around the meat (not on top, so that you don’t wash away the marinade).
rubbed piece of meat in a dutch oven before cooking.
  • Bring to a boil, cover, and transfer to the oven.
  • Cook for 2 ½ – 3 ½ hours, or until the Dutch oven roast pork easily pulls with a fork. The cooking time depends on the size of the meat piece and on your oven, some are hotter than others.
piece of meat in a large heavy bottomed pan on a wooden board.
  • Remove from the pot. Shred with two forks.
  • Keep warm while you make the sauce.

Sauce:

  • Removing the fat from the sauce is, again, optional, but recommendable. There will be quite a lot of it and I just don’t like to know I have it on my plate. If you don’t care about that, just puree the vegetables (after removing the bay leaves) in the sauce and check for seasoning.
  • If you prefer to remove some of the fat, strain the cooking sauce through a fine-mesh sieve into a larger bowl. Reserve the vegetables, but discard the bay leaves. Refrigerate the sauce for about 10 minutes to allow the fat to separate from the rest. Remove the fat from the surface of the bowl with a flatter spoon.
  • Wipe the Dutch oven with kitchen paper and pour the sauce and the cooked veggies back in.
  • Puree the vegetables with an immersion blender until the sauce is smooth. There will probably be no need for extra seasoning but check.
  • Reheat the sauce.
close up of a pot with sauce.

How to serve pulled pork?

Serve the Dutch oven roast pork with mashed potatoes, sauce, and vegetables – a wonderful Sunday or festive day lunch or dinner.

Making a large batch of pulled pork at the weekend, for instance, provides you with several meals throughout the week.

How about a pork ragu served with pasta? You can reheat the meat in some of the leftover sauce and mix it with tagliatelle, pappardelle, or any other kind of pasta you like. Or you can serve the ragu over rice.

My kids absolutely love wraps filled with the shredded meat, lettuce leaves, onion and tomato slices, a little sour cream or thick yogurt, and some kind of sauce. Either ketchup or something mild for my daughter, or some spicier sauce for my son (sriracha, sweet chili sauce, etc).

You can also make tacos or burritos. Or – a classic – make pulled pork burgers, sandwiches, or sliders.

shredded pork butt close up.

Can you freeze the leftovers?

Definitely, I often do as I am not keen of eating meat 3-4 days in a row. And what a happy moment when I defrost a little bag and we can have some delicious pork wraps or pasta again without any extra work.

I even freeze the sauce, if we have too much of it. When defrosted, I mix it with some of the meat and make pasta. Or I defrost it without any meat and serve it with meatballs and mashed potatoes.

To freeze the pork, place it in freezer bags or containers and freeze it for up to 3 months. Defrost in the fridge or microwave. If the portions are small, it will not take long.

More Dutch oven recipes:

tender pork butt shredded on a platter.

Dutch Oven Pulled Pork

Yield: 6-8
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 10 minutes

Tender Dutch oven pulled pork served with a finger-licking gravy. Minimal effort for juicy roast pork that can be served in so many ways.

Ingredients

  • 1.8-2.7 kg/ 4–6 lbs pork shoulder
  • 1 to 1 ½ tablespoon fine sea salt (Note 1)
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 medium onions (a total of about 150-200 g/ 5.3-7 oz)
  • 1 medium apple
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 400 ml/ 13.5 fl.oz/ 1 ¾ cups chicken or beef stock

Instructions

  1. Rub the pork shoulder with salt, wrap it in plastic foil and refrigerate overnight. Remove from the fridge and rub with the marinating paste about 1-2 hours before cooking.
  2. Mix together mustard, tomato paste, both paprika sorts, garlic powder, red chili flakes, salt, and pepper. Rub the meat all over with this mixture and let it on the counter until the 1-2 hours are up.
  3. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius/ 320 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Peel and slice the onion into half rings. Chop the apple.
  5. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven. Saute the onion with a pinch of salt on medium-low heat for about 8 minutes until soft. Stir occasionally and add a splash of water if necessary. Add the apple and continue cooking for about 5 minutes.
  6. Place the meat on top, add bay leaves and pour the stock around the meat (not on top, so that you don't wash away the marinade). Bring to a boil, cover, and transfer to the oven.
  7. Cook for 2 ½ – 3 ½ hours, or until the meat easily pulls with a fork. The cooking time depends on the size of the meat piece and on your oven, some are hotter than others.
  8. Remove the meat from the pot. Shred with two forks. Keep warm while you make the sauce.


Sauce:

  1. Removing the fat from the sauce is optional but recommendable. Strain the cooking sauce through a fine-mesh sieve into a larger bowl. Reserve the vegetables, but discard the bay leaves. Refrigerate the sauce for about 10 minutes to allow the fat to separate from the rest. Remove the fat from the surface of the bowl with a flatter spoon.
  2. Wipe the Dutch oven with kitchen paper and pour the sauce and the cooked veggies back in. Puree the vegetables with an immersion blender until the sauce is smooth. There will probably be no need for extra seasoning but check.
  3. Reheat the sauce.

Notes

Rubbing the meat with salt and refrigerating overnight is optional but recommendable. The salt will penetrate the meat and season it better.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1/8 of the dish
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 713Total Fat: 51gSaturated Fat: 18gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 28gCholesterol: 204mgSodium: 1630mgCarbohydrates: 7gFiber: 1gSugar: 4gProtein: 55g

Nutritional information is not always accurate.

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