Deep Diving into Winter Cookbooks: Pulled Pork Shoulder in Black BBQ Sauce

With January winding down, it looks like ice has encapsulated just about everything in northeast Michigan. All the greens on our farm are mostly done for the winter, except the rare occasion the sun peeks out from the clouds long enough to thaw a bit of hoophouse spinach. Storage potatoes and carrots have already begun to dwindle, and the familiar retreat indoors this time of year also translates into more one-on-one with new cookbooks, more opportunities to splatter and stain fresh pages with new and sometimes challenging creations.

The cover of Smoke & Pickles

For many a Michigander that fills their deep freezer with whole and half animals, a little culinary reinvention for routine cuts of meat are just what the doctor ordered this time of the season. Smoke & Pickles by Edward Lee is a Korean-Southern gastronomic match made in heaven. This memory-soaked tome will have you almost inhaling the recipes as you flip through the pages. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, with ingredients like cola, coffee, and raisins in a single sauce. But I got over any trepidation after my first whiff of Lee’s “Pulled Pork Shoulder in Black BBQ Sauce.” The sauce is liquid gold brushed over Standen Acres pork or lamb. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

P.S. You can find more recipes on our blog here.

Serves 6-8


  • 2 T butter
  • 1 t olive oil
  • 1 pound onions, chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 jalapeño peppers, chopped (seeds and all) – you can just use one or none at all if you want to skip the heat, but it’s sure good with ‘em
  • ⅓ c raisins
  • ½ c bourbon
  • ½ c dark coffee
  • ½ c cola
  • ½ c ketchup
  • ¼ c soy sauce
  • ¼ c balsamic vinegar
  • 2 T molasses
  • 2 T Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 T black bean paste or miso
  • 1 T dry mustard
  • 2 t ground allspice
  • 2 t black pepper
  • 2 t cayenne pepper (again, you can leave out)
  • 1 t smoked paprika
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • ¼ c sesame oil


  • ¼ c salt
  • 1½ T cumin
  • 1½ T smoked paprika
  • 1½ T black pepper


One 5-pound pork shoulder roast, skin on


  1. To make the sauce: in a Dutch oven, melt the butter with the oil over low heat. Add the onions, garlic, jalapeño peppers, and raisins. Cover the pot and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions start to brown and caramelize on the bottom of the pot, about 5 minutes. Deglaze the pan by adding the bourbon, coffee, and cola. Scrape up the bits from the bottom of the pot and simmer until the liquid has reduced by half.
  2. Add the ketchup, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, molasses, Worcestershire sauce, and black bean paste and simmer over low heat for 5 minutes. Add the mustard, allspice, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and smoked paprika and simmer for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the sauce to cool for 15 minutes.
  3. Transfer the sauce to a blender or food processor, add the lime juice and sesame oil, and puree on high until you achieve a smooth, thick sauce. Relocate the sauce to a bowl and refrigerate; bring to room temperature when ready to use.
  4. To make the rub: combine all the ingredients in a bowl.
  5. Put the pork shoulder in a large baking dish or other container and pat a thick layer of the rub over the entire surface. Let it quick cure in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
  6. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  7. Wrap the shoulder loosely in aluminum foil and set in a roasting pan. Pour a little water, about ½ cup, into the foil package. Roast for 2½ hours. Check the meat. It should pull away from the bone when you poke it with a fork.
  8. Transfer the pork to a cutting board and use two forks to pull the meat off the bone and shred it as you go.
  9. Moisten the meat with the barbecue sauce, but don’t drown it. Put on a platter and serve hot. (I like to serve it with cheesy grits or cornbread)

Molly Stepanski is the Local Food Coordinator for Northeast Michigan. She enjoys digging, planting, and hiking in the dirt, cooking up her own recipes, drinking wine, and eating lots of fresh, seasonal produce (and anything deep-fried, in accordance with her southern heritage). She owns and operates Presque Isle Farm with her family and is a founding member of the Huron Shores Local Food Coalition. Contact her at [email protected].

Photo Credit: Scott Suchman for the Washington Post.