Summer Barbecues + Jennifer’sPork Shoulder Recipe

There’s nothing quite like summertime in the Napa Valley — filled with great wines, good friends, and barbeques of course!

We recently had some of our favorite locals over for a shindig, where the fan favorite was Pulled Pork Sandwiches.

Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Start with a 4-8 lb pork shoulder roast. Bring the meat to room temperature, then place on a large, foil lined tray. Smother with the dry “Rub.” This can be a store-bought blend, or mix your own (recipe below). Follow my lead or just empty your spice cabinet and experiment! You’ll need at least a cup. Save some rub to add to the BBQ sauce.

Jennifer’s BBQ Rub

½ cup lemon pepper
½ cup seasoned salt
¼ cup garlic salt
½ cup paprika – smoked or sweet
1 tbsp. ground red cayenne pepper
¼ cup dried herbs (thyme, marjoram, oregano, etc.)
2 cups brown sugar

We have what I call “Herb’s Money Pit” which consists of a 12-foot wall of cooking options: a huge smoker, or “Bar B Que” in the lexicon of true chefs, (ours can hold a small hog or goat), a pizza oven, grill, burners, and sink. The smoker is great for everything – I smoke cherry tomatoes and other veggies and ribs, brisket, chicken, and especially pork shoulders for pulled pork.

The whole purpose of a smoker is to cook the meat over wood at a very slow temperature for a long period of time, using additional chunks of hardwood (cherry, almond or apple are great) which have been soaked in a pail of water, thrown on the fire to create smoke which envelopes the meat. I try to start a fire early in the day to warm the entire smoker, then add the meat (fatty side up) and more fuel to keep the temperature between 200 and 275 degrees, which is tricky when cooking for a long while, as you have to keep adjusting the vents and opening the door to re-fuel the fire. Five to seven hours should be enough for a chunk of meat up to 12 lbs. This gives the meat a crusty “bark” and keeps it moist with a ring of red smoke under the crust. If the bark is getting too dark, you can wrap the meat in foil the last few hours (if you are simultaneously cooking beans, put the pot under the roast to catch the drippings).

Take the meat out and let it rest for 15-20 minutes before you pull it. Because pork shoulder is so fatty, it tastes best paired with a vinegar based BBQ sauce, pickles, cucumbers, and/or slaw. You can use store-bought sauce (sometimes in a bind, I do, then add lots of apple cider vinegar and spices) or make your own.

Jennifer’s BBQ sauce

2 cups apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons onion powder
½ cup molasses
½ cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon hot pepper flakes
3 tablespoons rub
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

While the meat is resting, warm the BBQ sauce and slice the warmed buns and get the coleslaw ready to put together with the pulled pork sandwiches. Pull the pork with two forks to create shreds of the hot meat – you can add warmed BBQ sauce now, or put some BBQ sauce and coleslaw on each bun, and add pulled pork to each sandwich, slathering on some more sauce…

Foolproof, every time…

From our porch to yours, happy summer barbecuing! 

Photographs c/o Emma K. Morris.