Try celebrating the holiday with a from-scratch pulled-pork meal.
By Jenifer Antonelli
This Fathers’ Day, why not make dad some delicious pulled pork or carnitas to celebrate his special day? Pulled pork and carnitas are very similar to make—you basically just switch out the ingredients in the spice rub and the form of acid you use (vinegar or lime juice), and doing so changes the flavor profile. Pork shoulder (aka pork butt or Boston butt) is one of the least expensive cuts to buy at the market but can be transformed into one of the most tender and delicious. Yes, it takes time to make an otherwise tough cut into a fork-tender piece of meat, but your patience will be rewarded. There’s not much hands-on time to this recipe—you just need to be home to keep an eye on the oven. Remember, “low (heat) and slow is the way to go.”
6 pounds boneless pork shoulder
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon garlic powder/granules
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon dried mustard
1 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons garlic powder/granules
1 tablespoon chili powder
3 limes, juiced
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
2. Season your pork shoulder generously with salt and pepper. I use a teaspoon of kosher salt for every pound of pork and freshly ground pepper to coat all sides of the pork.
3. Heat a large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add your oil, swirl to coat the pan, then add your pork pieces about a minute later when the oil is hot but not smoking. Be careful not to crowd the pan as you want to sear the meat, not steam it. You may need to do this in batches depending on the size of your pieces and dutch oven. Sear the meat until it is deep golden brown on all sides.
4. Once browned, turn off the heat. Season the pork on all sides with your desired spice mix (pulled pork or carnitas). Add the acid (vinegar or lime juice) to the pan, cover with the lid, then place in the oven.
5. After about an hour and a half, remove the dutch oven from the oven and turn the pork pieces over to coat the tops in the pan juices. Cover and return to the oven for another hour.
6. Remove the pork from the oven and test the internal temperature with a meat thermometer at the thickest part of each piece. It should be around 200 degrees at this point. If not, return to the oven, covered, for another half hour and check the temperature again. Once it measures around 200 degrees, turn the pork over so the fattiest side is on top, then return to the oven, uncovered, for another half hour to crisp up the top.
7. Remove from the oven and let cool for 30 minutes. Transfer the pork to a large metal or glass bowl, remove the butchers twine (if wrapped), and shred the pork. As you shred the meat (with forks or your gloved hands as the meat will still be very hot!), discard any large chunks of fat or gristle you may come across. Keep the nice, crispy bits of fat, though!
8. Taste and adjust the seasonings. You will want to add some of the pan drippings for texture and flavor but probably not all of it, depending on how rich you like your meat.
9. Serve the pulled pork on brioche buns with BBQ sauce and coleslaw or the carnitas on warmed tortillas with sour cream and pickled red onions. If you are avoiding carbs, you can also make a delicious taco salad (pictured) with the carnitas instead. Enjoy!
Jenifer Antonelli is the owner of Vino and Viand Personal Chef Services. Visit her online and at @vinoandviand on Facebook and Instagram.
El Segundo Eats is sponsored by Good Stuff Restaurants.
This column appears in our June 2020 issue.