Unofficial Ribfest, Part 2

A couple of years ago, we hosted a “Backyard Ribfest” for the end of school/long weekend. Friends brought salads and we made the requisite ribs, beans, coleslaw and grilled corn. It was delish. Check out some of the recipes and pics here if you are so inclined. And, while we haven’t hosted another ribfest since, having been rained out last year and being in PEI this year, we have continued to host food fests to greater or lesser success.

This summer has unofficially become the summer of pork! And with tasty results so far including this recipe for balsamic pork tenderloin. So it only makes sense that I followed up with another ribfest staple,this fabulous pulled pork inspired by two different recipes on Serious Eats.

At $1.99-$2.99 a pound for pork shoulder (roughly 5 lbs total) it’s a cheap and unctuous way to serve a house full of friends big and small…or a handful of friends who know how to a appreciate a messy sandwich!


In a bowl mix measure out roughly 1 cup brown sugar (less if you have a smaller pork shoulder) then add great heaping amounts (yes, that’s an official measurement) of:

Montreal Steak Spice

Ground ginger

Ground garlic


English Mustard powder

Dried oregano

Coarse salt

Fresh ground pepper

Rub all over the patted-dry pork shoulder and place in a lightly oiled dutch oven.

Preheat over to 300F-325F depending on how hot your oven runs.

Brown your pork shoulder on all sides. No need to be vigorous about this. You want a little caramelization and crust but it’s going to be shredded in the end anyway.

In a very large measure cup or a pitcher or bottle (or bowl, if you are less inclined to spilling ingredients everywhere than I am) add:

1 cup brewed coffee

1 cup bourbon (pause here to pour yourself and anyone of legal drinking age a shot. Enjoy.)

1 can cola

1 cup apple cider vinegar

1 cup ketchup

A much smaller quantity of hot sauce (optional)

Several glugs of both soy sauce and worchestershire sauce.

Whisk it all together and pour over pork shoulder. It should come well past half-way but not cover the shoulder. Add stock, water, beer, or hard cider if you need more liquid.

Cover with cooking parchment and place in the oven for 3 hours. You might want to take a peak at just past the 2 hour mark if you are worried about the amount of liquid. You do not want this baby to dry out.  Carefully remove the parchment, turn the shoulder over, and return to over for another 60-90 minutes (total cooking time 4.5 hours).

It’s not a very intensive cooking exercise one the rub, browning, and sauce are pulled together so go about swimming, drinking, and listening to music. The nice thing about the lower cooking temperature is that it’s not going to completely overheat your house. Though on a hot day it’s not doing you any favours and you could consider putting it in a roasting pan on your BBQ but you will have to baste it a lot more and that’s going to dry you and it out with the constant uncovering and more intense BBQ heat even on low.

We served this on mini sweet Italian soft rolls with Mark’s famous double cabbage-apple-curry slaw on the bun and cold watermelon on the side. Grilled corn with lime-cream-butter-chipotle-queso would work super well too as would a cold potato salad or a hot scalloped potato-like dish.

Copious amounts of hard cider, effervescent beer like 1664 and rounds of bourbon taste delightful or my new favourite: lemonade, iced-tea and bourbon in a pitcher with mountains of ice.  Yumm!




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