With summer houseguests arriving in waves, spending a Sunday afternoon preparing a hearty pork roast can make for several evenings of carefree entertaining.
Recently, I purchased a 7-pound, bone-in pork butt at Detwiler’s Farm Market in Palmetto for $2.49 per pound. I was envying a friend’s outdoor smoker for an even easier day of cooking, but I resigned to put the roast in my conventional oven and served mouthwatering pulled pork sandwiches for a luncheon the following day.
I used Food Network chef Ree Drummond’s recipe and had enough to make six sandwiches on large, buttered brioche buns for my guests and at least two additional meals.
One key suggestion was to prepare the roast a day before cooking and store it in the refrigerator. That gives it time to absorb the spice rub. The recipe also calls for baking the roast on a bed of cut onions to add even more flavor. I always have plenty of sweet yellow onions on hand this time of year.
The roast gave me enough leftovers to send some home with my friend, who made her own pulled pork tostadas with tortillas, refried beans, avocado, cheese and sour cream. And we stretched the roast even further by enjoying some delicious pulled pork grilled cheese sandwiches a couple of days later. I often order a beef short rib grilled cheese sandwich at Tropicana Field during Rays games, so I took that idea and substituted the beef with pulled pork. These sandwiches pair well with coleslaw and fresh fruit. I always opt for watermelon during the summer.
It’s easy enough to make your own barbecue sauce (see recipe below), but I usually use Sweet Baby Ray’s Sweet Vidalia Onion sauce, because I always have some in my pantry.
Pulled Pork Roast
¼ cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 pork shoulder roast (also called pork butt)
4 onions, cut into halves
For serving: 1 bottle good barbecue sauce (or recipe below) and good-quality hamburger rolls
Stir together the brown sugar, chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, salt, black pepper and cayenne in a small bowl. Rub the mixture all over the pork shoulder. Wrap the pork in plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours or preferably overnight.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
Place the pork in a large pot on a bed of the onion halves. Roast until fork-tender and falling apart, about 7 hours. Remove the pork from the pot and set it on a cutting board. Slice some of the onion.
Place the pot on the stove over medium-high heat and add ½ to 1 cup of hot water. Scrape the pan to loosen up the bits and cook for 5 minutes to reduce. Pour in the barbecue sauce and stir to heat.
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Shred the meat with two forks, add the sliced onions to the pork and then toss in the barbecue sauce until it’s coated to your liking. Serve on buns.
Ree Drummond’s Homemade BBQ Sauce
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ onion, diced
1 cup ketchup
⅓ cup molasses
⅓ cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons minced chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
4 tablespoons distilled vinegar, or less to taste
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Dash of salt
Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and onions and cook for 5 minutes, stirring, being careful not to burn them.
Reduce the heat to low. Add the ketchup, molasses, brown sugar, chipotle peppers, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and salt and stir.
Allow to simmer for 20 minutes. Taste after simmering and add whatever ingredient it needs (more spice, more sugar, etc.).
Pulled Pork Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
16 ounces fully cooked barbecue shredded pork
1 garlic clove, minced
8 slices country white bread
6 ounces sliced Manchego cheese or 8 slices Monterey Jack cheese
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
¼ cup mayonnaise
Heat shredded pork and stir in garlic. Layer 4 slices of bread with cheese, onion, pork mixture and remaining bread. Spread outsides of sandwiches with mayonnaise.
In a large nonstick skillet, toast sandwiches in batches over medium-low heat until golden brown and cheese is melted, 2 to 3 minutes per side.