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Chef Craig Flinn's Barbecued Pulled Pork Sarnie


It is difficult to even consider writing out a pulled pork recipe when there are so many opinions as to the right and ONLY way to make the barbecue classic. People are passionate about barbecue. My intention here is to keep it simple and get people making it the slow method, on the grill, using a little smoke as you go. It's really not that hard to do, you only need patience and a thermometer. As easy and as inexpensive as this recipe is, it does take time. So I encourage you to invite some family over for Sunday supper and take the weekend to play with this great dish. Once you taste it you'll understand why pulled pork is considered the ultimate barbecue dish.

For the pulled pork:

  • 1 X 8 to 10 lb (3.5 to 4.5 kg) bone in Boston butt pork roast (also known as pork shoulder)
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) paprika
  • 1/2 tsp (3 mL) cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) onion powder
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) chili powder
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) cumin
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) black pepper
  • 2 cups (500 mL) hardwood chips (apple, maple, or hickory) soaked in water
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) apple cider or apple juice in a spray bottle
  1. Preheat your barbecue to 225 F (110 C) using only one burner. Remove the grill over the flame but keep the grill in place where the flame isn't lit. This will allow an indirect, slow cooking for the pork roast. Remove any excess fat from the outside of the pork butt (pork shoulder) with a sharp knife.
  2. In a small bowl mix all the spices together. Rub the spice liberally all over the pork butt and pat it into the flesh. Place the pork butt on the grill ensuring that no flame is directly beneath the meat. This would cause the flesh to burn and cook too quickly.
  3. Using a piece of aluminum foil, make a pouch large enough to contain one cup of the water soaked woodchips. When the chips are sealed, poke about 4 or 5 holes in the top of the foil about 1/4 in diameter. Repeat this for the second cup of woodchips. Place the first pouch of chips directly over the flame of the barbecue (I usually sit the foil pouch right on top of the burner shield down inside the base of the barbecue). Close the lid of the barbecue and allow the smoking to begin. Cook for a total of 10 to 12 hours. During the cooking, constantly check the thermometer of the barbecue and maintain as close to 225 F through the cooking as possible. Every now and then, spray some apple cider from the spray bottle over the meat. The internal temperature of the pork should be between 165 and 175 F (73 to 80 C). When the pork is ready, rest for at least 45 minutes or an hour before pulling the meat apart.

For the sauce:

  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup (250 mL) apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) apple cider
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) mustard
  • 2 cups (500 mL) ketchup
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) Tabasco sauce
  • 1/2 tsp (3 mL) salt
  1. Place the minced onion and garlic in a saucepan and add the apple cider vinegar and apple cider.
  2. Bring to a boil and immediately add the brown sugar, mustard, and ketchup and whisk until smooth.
  3. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes.
  4. Season with Tabasco sauce and salt and set aside until ready to serve the sandwiches. This can be done ahead and refrigerated, then reheated with a couple of tablespoons of water before serving.

For the apple and fennel coleslaw:

  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 2 tart apples (such as Honeycrisp, Gravenstein, or Northern Spy)
  • 1 head Belgian endive lettuce
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) chopped fennel bulb tops
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) sour cream
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) mayonnaise
  • juice and zest of half a lemon
  • 3 tbsp (45 mL) cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) grainy mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. This salad is best when all the vegetables are thinly sliced with a mandolin using either the flat blade attachment or the julienne blade. Beginning with the fennel bulb, cut the bulb in half and remove the root with a paring knife. Slice as thinly as possible and place in a mixing bowl. Thinly slice the red onion the same way, followed by the apples. The apples can be cut using the julienne blade, if desired. Finally, slice the Belgian endive lettuce on a cutting board in fine matchsticks or chiffonade.
  2.  In a separate bowl combine the sour cream, mayonnaise, lemon, vinegar, mustard, and reserved fennel tops. Whisk until smooth and season with a little salt and pepper. Add this dressing to the first bowl containing all the vegetables and toss. Refrigerate the dressing for an hour or so before serving.

For the bread:

  • 1 12-inch loaf focaccia bread
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) extra virgin olive oil
  1. Cut the loaf into wedges or squares depending on the shape of the loaf, then cut each portion in half. You are looking for a piece of bread about 3/4 thick. Brush the cut side of each slice with olive oil. Broil the bread in a 500 F (260 C) oven until golden brown.


Once the pork butt has rested, remove the bone from the center of the roast and pull the larger lobes of meat apart with your hands. Remove any excess visible fat and discard. Using 2 forks, pull the meat apart and into small shreds. Collect the shreds in a bowl and toss with about 1 cup (250 mL) of warm barbecue sauce. Place a heaping mound of meat on top of each piece of broiled focaccia bread and garnish that with a heaping spoonful of apple fennel coleslaw.

This sandwich can be served open-faced or with a second piece of bread on top as a sandwich.

Serves 6 with leftovers