Slow-Cooked Pulled Pork

Although this is a really simple dish and great if you want pulled pork burgers. I have broken it down into steps as I make the rub & sauce. It’s a slow cook dish, so once the initial prep is done it takes care of itself. I’m including pictures so please don’t be put off by the length of the post. I use my Instant Pot Duo. But you can do it in your oven. Just seal everything as per the initial steps, then cover your meat in a tray with two layers of foil and put in a low oven at 170 ˚C for 5-6 hours. When doing it this way I seal everything off in the same oven tray on the hob. If you are using a crockpot that does not have a sealing/fry function, use a pan and transfer. The dry rub makes more than enough to have for use later and the liquid from the pork can be frozen and used again either as a base for a sauce or to slow cook pork another time. I just add a little to my base bbq sauce as the sweetness is a good balance for putting on the pork when serving.

Step 1 – Dry rub mix

  • ½ tsp fennel seeds – ground with pestle and mortar
  • ¼ tsp aniseed, ground with pestle and mortar
  • 1 tsp onion salt
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1½ heaped tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 heaped tsp sweet paprika
  • 1tsp Chinese 5 spice
  • ½ tsp salt & ¼ black pepper to season
  • big pinch of ground cinnamon
  • pinch of ground ginger
Mix all the ingredients in a pestle and mortar or a bowl

Step 2 – Pork cooking ingredients

  • 1½- 2 kg /3lb pork shoulder, excess fat trimmed (leave a bit) and cut into 1½” chunks (keep the fat to make pork scratchings)
  • 3 heaped tbsp of dry rub for meat
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil for frying
  • ½ a red onion sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic smashed
  • ¼ cup tamari or low sodium soy
  • ⅓ cup tomato paste
  • 1 cup water for deglazing as you cook
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1tsp rice vinegar
  • -1 cup water (needed before beginning slow cook)


  • Take the trimmed fat and place it in an oven on high heat, about 200˚C – 215˚C to until the fat renders down and all that is left is crispy crackling. It takes about 30 minutes. Keep the fat and use it for cooking.
  • Once you have the rub done and your meat trimmed and ready. Use about 3 tbsp of the mix, massage into the meat and set aside while you prep and measure out your other ingredients. You can do this overnight or about 30 minutes ahead at a minimum. The less time you leave it the better a massage I would give the meat when rubbing.
  • Set your instant pot onto saute, or place your try/pan on the hop over medium heat. Once warm add your oil and your onions and sweat for about 2-3 minutes. In an Instant pot, I have the time set for 5 minutes and that covers all the time I need for everything to seal and sweat.
  • Add in the garlic, string all the time, followed by 1 tsp of the dry rub mix, cooking for about a minute. If you think it’s sticking, add some of your water to deglaze the pan. You don’t want the garlic to burn. keep everything moving and moist.
  • Now add the pork and seal. Giving it a good stir or turning over depending on your cooking choice (tray, instant pot or pan). About 2 minutes should do the trick. Once again add a little water if you think it’s sticking.
  • Add the tomato paste, tamari, 1 tsp dry rub, 2 tbsp maple syrup and give a good stir so everything is coated. Press Cancel on the Instant Pot removing the inner pot from the element or turn off your hob if using that method. Add the rice vinegar and remaining cup of water and stir.
  • Replace the inner pot into the Instant Pot casing, put on the lid and set to “slow cook” for 5½ – 6 hours. Make sure you check what “Venting” setting you need to apply for your machine to slow cook, as this can vary. If using an oven to slow cook. Cover the tray in tin foil and place in a preheated oven at 170˚C for 5- 6 hours. Should you decide to do this in a crockpot or slow cooker, transfer from the pan and adjust your settings according to your machine.
  • While the meat is cooking, you can make whatever sides and toppings you are having such as coleslaw, fried onions, tomatoes etc. As well as my simple bbq sauce. Click the link for the recipe.
  • Note:- When cooking in a tray in the oven, have a little peak to ensure there isn’t too much liquid building up in the tray. As it can catch you unawares when lifting the tray out. Empty a little out if you need to at the 2-hour stage of slow cooking.
  • Once the meat has cooked, remove it from the pot or tray using a slotted spoon onto a platter. Gently pull the meat apart using two forks and trickle with the meat juice. Cover with tinfoil while you warm the burger buns.
  • Add about half a ladle of the juice to my bbq sauce base and warm. The remainder you can freeze for another day.
  • To make the pulled pork burger, I generally put the pork in the bun then top it with the bbq sauce. Others mix the pork and sauce then put it in the bun. It’s up to you. If you are serving on a platter then trickle with the sauce and have a jug to one side so people can serve themselves.

To make a quick slaw, I use quarter a head of white cabbage, washed, finely sliced and three carrots grated. Mix with 2 heaped tablespoons of mayo and season with white pepper and salt. For fun and to give that diner feel, I also serve thick smoothies or homemade shakes in jam jars. Here is a link to the one used in this shot.

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