The upcoming Christmas holidays will be our first out here in Toronto and the first ever where it will be just the two of us celebrating it. As much as I’ll miss seeing family and friends, I’m looking forward to starting some new traditions and trying out some new foods.
This past weekend, we kicked off the countdown to Christmas in style. We rubbed shoulders with the well-to-do while shopping in Yorkville, froze our toes at the Toronto Christmas Market and decorated our apartment. After all that, we took the chill off with an easy and warming dinner of oven pulled pork.
Pulled pork is a summertime barbecue staple, but there's no reason you can't enjoy it year round. Our go-to pulled piggy recipe is this spicy carnitas-style version from Martha Stewart, but I decided to go for something a bit different. Apple juice and a hint of maple syrup in the braising liquid gives a dollop of sweetness to the meltingly moist meat, sweetness that is balanced with a tart cider-vinegar sauce. You can also reserve the cooking liquid and serve that over the pork instead, or, if you want something more evocative of summer barbecues, try a spicy-sweet tomato-based sauce. Served, of course, on a fluffy white bun with some caramelized onions.
Apple maple pulled pork (adapted from Bonnie Stern)
- 3-4 lbs pork shoulder (pork butt roast)
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup apple juice
- ½ cup maple syrup
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
Combine brown sugar, salt, paprika, pepper, mustard and garlic. Rub into pork roast. Marinate for a few hours or overnight in the refrigerator.
Combine water, apple juice, maple syrup and Worcestershire sauce. Place pork in a Dutch oven and pour liquid over until roast is about ¾ covered (reserve and extra liquid). Cook, covered, in a 325°F oven until pork is so tender that it falls apart when pierced with a fork, about four or five hours. Turn roast a few times during cooking and add reserved liquid if necessary.
Transfer pork (carefully) to a bowl and shred meat using two forks. Skim and reserve cooking liquid.
Basic Vinegar BBQ Sauce
- ¼ cup water
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- ¾ cups apple cider vinegar
- ¼ Cup ketchup
- ½ tablespoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon cayenne
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
Stir the brown sugar into the hot water. Continue stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved. Add the remaining ingredients and heat on low for a few minutes.
Chipotle Maple Barbecue Sauce (from Martha Stewart)
- 1 cup ketchup
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 cup dark-brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 to 3 teaspoons adobo sauce (without chipotles)