Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
20 Mar

Garlic Pulled Pork

Search through a few cookbooks or food blogs for a pulled pork recipe and you’ll find that everyone has a slightly different approach. Some cooks add broth and tomatoes, some sear the meat at the beginning, some cook the pork in a crock pot and others go all-out with a charcoal grill. Each cook will claim their recipe is the best, but we’ll let you in on a secret: no matter how you cook pulled pork, it’s going to be delicious.

We like the approach Pat “Allbeef Patty” Levine submitted for the Primal Blueprint Cookbook Challenge because it’s straightforward and fool-proof and still has tons of flavor. As Pat told us, “the beauty is that it’s very affordable and it’s more of a “method” than a recipe” – which means you can alter the seasonings to your own taste. The method Pat speaks of is slow-cooking at a low temperature. Low and Slow is the best way to cook less-expensive, tough cuts of meat. One of these cuts is pork shoulder, which is sold most often as either a Boston Butt (upper shoulder) or Picnic (lower shoulder). Either will work for this recipe.

A pork shoulder is very forgiving. Contrary to most cuts of meat, this one will only come out tough if you undercook it. Think of it this way: the meat is so tough to begin with that you really can’t make it worse, you can only improve on it. You’ll be helped along by a thick layer of fat that covers the pork shoulder, tenderizing and flavoring the meat as it cooks. All you need to do is add some seasonings, put the meat in a dish, cover it with foil and walk away for three hours. If the meat doesn’t shred easily with a slight nudge from a fork, then cook it another hour. After four hours in the oven, the meat will have transformed into a succulent, richly flavored, melt-in-your-mouth roast.

As the pork is cooking it will release it’s own juices, creating a sauce in the pan. This sauce can be drizzled over the shredded meat at the end, adding even more flavor. Another reason we like Pat’s method of using an oven instead of a crock pot is that you can take the foil off for the last 45 minutes and the meat will get crispy and caramelized on the outside. Trust us, you won’t be able to resist picking these crispy bits off the top when the pork comes out of the oven.

This is the type of dish that gives you a lot of bang for the buck: tons of lip-smacking flavor and enough meat for several meals (or a very large family.)


  • 1 pork shoulder cut (butt or picnic), weighing 3-4 pounds
  • 1-2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1-2 tablespoons of granulated garlic or garlic powder
  • optional: 6 fresh garlic cloves, peeled
  • The juice of one lime (or sour orange, if you can get one)
  • 1 onion
  • 1 bay leaf


Mix together salt, cumin, black pepper and granulated garlic.

Juice the lime over the seasonings and rub the mixture all over the pork.

If you love garlic as much as Pat does, you might want to use fresh garlic, too. Use a knife to slice six thin cuts in the pork and push each clove securely inside each cut. You don’t want the fresh garlic to fall out and touch the cooking vessel or it will burn and affect the flavor of the meat.

The meat should sit out of refrigeration a half hour before you put it in the oven. This ensures that it will cook evenly throughout. If you want to let the meat marinate in the rub longer than this, put it in the fridge for an hour or even overnight.

When you’re ready to cook, preheat the oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the roast in a pan with one sliced onion and a bay leaf. Cover and roast for three to four hours, or until the middle of the roast reads about 190 degrees and falls apart easily when pulled with a fork.

Let the roast rest for twenty minutes or so, then uncover. You’ll notice a lot of liquid at the bottom. Use it as a sauce for the meat, which you will now viciously attack with two forks. It’ll fall apart pretty readily, and you’ll get the idea of the shredding method after a couple of pulls. Enjoy!

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Looks great! What’s a sour orange? (First!!)

    Ben wrote on March 20th, 2010
    • Sour Orange is one of the main ingredients in “Mole” which is a sauce that’s part traditional Cuban pulled pork. Most Mole that you can buy has a bunch of crap in it, so lime juice adds some nice acidity without the crap.

      Allbeef Patty wrote on March 20th, 2010
    • Sour orange is used by many Cuban dishes. Mojo (for meats) is supposed to have sour orange, but most commercial variety will have some kind of combination of vinegar, grapefruit juice, lime or lemon juice. If you don’t have access to sour oranges lime is the best alternative (not lemon).

      Don’t eat it like a normal orange, it is really sour. It’s the size of an orange but the skin is not smooth, the rougher the better. The thickness of the skin is also very different, sour oranges have a much thicker skin. It normally looks like it has some “bad spots” but it’s normal.

      (I’m Cuban)

      Alejandro wrote on March 20th, 2010
  2. This looks amazing! I am going to run to the store right now and pick up a pork shoulder. Delicious!!

    Athena wrote on March 20th, 2010
  3. This looks too damn good. And, this makes the time waiting for the Primal Recipe book that much more savoring!

    I am buying pork this week and making this for my family!

    P.S. The stuffed peppers were Awesome! I made them for my sisters and they loved them… oh, and they traditionally frown over ground beef – not this time :)

    Todd wrote on March 20th, 2010
  4. I was just talking about roasting some pork! I was a live long vegetarian, so I don’t know much about these things… Will pulled pork keep in the fridge after you shred it like that or should I just keep it whole until needed?

    Baerdric wrote on March 20th, 2010
    • It keeps just as well shredded, and it’s great to fry up leftovers in a pan so you get more of that crispy stuff.

      Allbeef Patty wrote on March 20th, 2010
      • What a great idea!

        I make pulled pork all the time in my slow cooker and yes, my only complaint would be that there’s not enough of the crispy bits, because they’re only on the outside… I will reheat my pulled pork like this from now on :)

        Zibi wrote on March 20th, 2010
    • Pulled pork keeps well in the fridge for several days, reheats easily, and actually freezes quite well. I barbecue pork shoulders 2-3 times every summer and we freeze the leftovers… a whiff of that summery hickory smoke smell in the dead of winter is a powerful antidepressant. :-) (And hey, what’s more primal than meat cooked over fire?)

      John wrote on March 20th, 2010
  5. Sour oranges are also known as Seville oranges. I once bought one out of curiosity (I’m a bit of a citrus freak and feel compelled to try any new variety that I see) and quickly discovered that they’re pretty much inedible straight. As sour, if not more sour, than a lemon. I could see how it would lend a great flavor to this dish, though!

    Jeremy wrote on March 20th, 2010
  6. i can’t wait to make this!! any tips on what kind of pan i should use? i’m new to cooking and may have to buy a new one

    sidandlucy wrote on March 20th, 2010
    • My favorite is an enameled cast iron dutch oven. Le Creuset is great, but just make sure that whatever you get is enameled on the inside too, so that it’s what’s called “non-reactive.” That just means that you can cook with acidic stuff. That’s a no-go with plain cast iron or non-anodized aluminum.

      Check discount stores for Le Creuset. I know they’re a lot of money, but there’s so much you can do with them, and you’ll probably be leaving it to your grandgroks.

      Allbeef Patty wrote on March 20th, 2010
    • Le Creuset is really nice stuff but tends to be a bit on the pricey side. I got my brother a Mario Batali 6-quart Dutch oven at about 1/3 the price of a functionally identical Le Creuset. It’s now well-used and still going strong, not to mention it’s the same one they use on Iron Chef.

      prib81 wrote on March 20th, 2010
      • I got my Le Creuset at Marshal’s or TJ Maxx (I forget which) for $80. I look at the cookware section every time I’m in one of those type stores, and have yet to see it again.

        Allbeef Patty wrote on March 20th, 2010
        • thanks so much guys! i’m going to be shopping for some new cookware soon so i can make some of this. i’m also going to buy a slow cooker. i’ve held off on buying one because i’m not a fan of mushy veggies but i will use it to cook meat!

          sidandlucy wrote on March 21st, 2010
        • I use a pressure cooker. In fact, I just re-cooked a pork roast that I had cooked on the BBQ a few weeks ago and froze in 1# chunks. I sliced the meat and then added carrots, onions and mushrooms so that it came out like a stew. It was done in 5 minutes.

          hiker wrote on October 9th, 2010
      • Lodge, the long-time American maker of cast iron cookware, now make enameled cast iron products at a much better price than LC. No, I don’t work for Lodge.

        AP, where did you buy the Mario Batali item?

        JimS wrote on March 22nd, 2010
        • I looked at many different brands before finally buying the Le Crueset. Lodge and every other brand I looked at sources their enamel coated cast iron pieces from China (although the traditional Lodge cast pans are cast in USA). A big reason that I am trying to use cast iron is for the long-term health benefits compared to other materials and unfortunately I have no faith in the purity of the cast iron from China. We buy a lot of cast iron automotive parts in China and in general the source material is polluted with all sorts of recycled scrap (old Russian military tankers, etc…), which is fine for brakes but I would not want near my food. I am not by any means saying that the dutch ovens from China are bad…just that I am willing to pay the premium (and it is significant)for highly regulated European cast-iron so as not to take the chance.

          Brian wrote on March 22nd, 2010
        • I was actually the one who got the Batali pot – I bought it on when it temporarily dropped to $65 some time ago.

          prib81 wrote on March 23rd, 2010
    • A glass casserole dish will work fine.

      matt the artist wrote on March 30th, 2010
  7. Mmmm….pulled pork….my favorite. Brings back memories of the pork-pulling sessions we used to have in the summer time after smoking pork butt for 24 hours. I bet a nice mustard sauce would go nicely with it, too!

    Aaron Blaisdell wrote on March 20th, 2010
  8. I love this stuff. I usually brown the roast in a large dutchoven-size pot on the stove, add about a cup of liquid (water, apple juice, beer, etc.), cover, and cook on medium low for a few hours. Check often and add more liquid when necessary. When tender, cut up into big chunks and shread. Season with whatever (I like thyme and lots of black pepper) and any brand of LIQUID SMOKE. Remove cover and simmer off any excess liquid. Make lots. Freeze some for later. Great for sack lunches. Draws a crowd when you heat it up in the microwave. Great with coleslaw. Add BBQ sauce on individual servings if you like.

    Jim O wrote on March 20th, 2010
  9. I just had serious deja vu. My wife posted a recipe very similar to this this week, and we can attest, very tasty.

    Brandon wrote on March 20th, 2010
  10. Oooh, excellent. I have a pork shoulder in the freezer and was going to throw it in the slow cooker next week — but I’ll try this instead. :)

    BarbeyGirl wrote on March 20th, 2010
  11. I have not cooked this recipe, but I have cooked several others from this here Pat fellow (we go way back). He has great recipes that are easy to follow for a delicious outcome.

    Madtastic wrote on March 20th, 2010
  12. Mark,
    I have to be honest.. I’m a paleolithic fan, & have a strong belief in our principles here.. HOWEVER, I am negatively affected by what I watch here.. What would we say to this guy if we were defending eating all this animal meat? He has very valid points.. Watch this video..

    Brian wrote on March 21st, 2010
    • Mark, I watched the vid and it reminded me of the Dr. McDougal diet advice. He uses soundbites McDougal uses. It is easy to get caught up in their line of reasoning. To them, saturated fat is saturated fat. they make no distinction between it’s composition regarding o3 to o6 ratios. I’ve tried their way (CW) and this way, and I’ll stick to what works. Primal.

      Not So Fast wrote on March 25th, 2010
  13. Straight forward, no-nonsense and delicious looking recipe! Thanks Pat!!!!

    mikecheliak wrote on March 21st, 2010
  14. What do we want? Pork!
    When do we want it? Tomorrows night’s dinner!

    Meat! Meat! Meat!

    (We can hardly wait, but it needs to thaw out first…)

    Kansas Grokette wrote on March 21st, 2010
  15. I am definitely going to try this one. The idea of using “kosher” salt on pork made me grin though for some reason.

    Stormpaw wrote on March 21st, 2010
    • 😛

      Nack wrote on April 7th, 2014
  16. I love the recipe. Cooking a big piece of meat means lots of leftovers!

    Janet wrote on March 21st, 2010
  17. My wife and I made this yesterday, it was delicious!! This is a new favorite recipe of mine, thanks so much for sharing.

    Jason wrote on March 22nd, 2010
  18. Yum – house smells of this just now. My mouth is watering and I am really looking forward to the meal. 😀

    Thanks so much for sharing the receipt. :)

    Sungrazer wrote on March 22nd, 2010
    • I hope you enjoyed the meal, but that smell builds up a hunger and anticipation that’s hard to satisfy.

      Allbeef Patty wrote on March 22nd, 2010
  19. we started doing pork shoulders with various rubs, braises and the like but now do them with just salt and pepper, cooked low and slow in a dutch oven. Usually we get up to 6-7+ hours at around 200 degrees. we pour off and keep the juice which flows out during the cook process, using both the fat and the intense gelatin which forms as the juice cools. it’s great for flavoring vegetables and the like or as a drink, diluted with hot water. and as a soup base.

    David Chang of momofuku noodle bar et al in NYC also reserves this gelatin for use in just about everything. his noodles are not primal but damn good!

    greg wrote on March 22nd, 2010
  20. I just cooked this tonight — absolutely fantastic!!! I followed the recipe exactly, except there were pacing menfolk in the kitchen crazed by the yummy smell, so at the end I cranked up the oven heat to about 400 to hurry the browning stage. Still delicious. AND fabulous leftovers to look forward to. Thanks!

    Marianne wrote on March 22nd, 2010
  21. Thanks for sharing it was delicious! :) I made it yesterday. Simple, yet full of taste and yum. Still got some leftovers which I will enjoy this evening. :) Thanks!

    Sungrazer wrote on March 23rd, 2010
  22. Great sounding recipe. Can’t wait to try a new rub. My only commment/suggestion is to actually let the internal temperature of the pork get up to 205-210, instead of 190. The pork will be even more tender and juicy.

    BobN wrote on March 23rd, 2010
  23. we made this over the weekend and found it very bland. We mixed the leftover meat with taco seasoning, green chilis, onions, and tomatoes.

    p14175 wrote on March 23rd, 2010
  24. This looks delicious and pork shoulder is definitely one of my favorite things to cook for bulk meat. However, I like to involve smoke in the process. Cook in the charcoal smoker with hickory chunks keeping the smoke chugging and the heat at around 225. Once the meat hits 185, the meat is perfect. I think the smoke adds a great crispy, flavorful bark to the meat. And I figure its pretty primal to use wood to cook a big hunk of meat…haha.

    To the person above me, if you smoke the meat I guarantee it will not be bland but so full of flavor without the need to excess seasoning, even though a little spice rub is nice.

    MikeO wrote on March 24th, 2010
    • I have a Big Green Egg, and love smoking on it. I think this would be a good thing to throw on the Rib Rack too. I agree with you about the 225 temp… but how long does it normally take to get to 185 internal temp? Thanks for your help!

      David wrote on April 23rd, 2010
  25. Anyone finding pasture raised pork at their market? I get pigs in Ohio from one farmer, but not many pork producers raise on pasture. I know for a fact that any pork raised in the US is injected at birth a bunch of antibiotics because in order to keep litters together healthy, they need to keep infection off of them. We always see “grass fed” in our beef; “free range” in our chickens; but I’ve never see someone sell “antibiotic free, pastured” hogs.

    Shoulder meat is almost all marbeling and connective tissue which is why BBQ enthusiasts love it. Slow and Low. But this also means lots of things we don’t want in us.

    Great, simple recipe BTW!

    Daniel Merk wrote on March 25th, 2010
    • Daniel, try Slankers grassfed meats for actual no-grain pork. They have the only no grain pork I no of. US Wellness Meats has good pork also. Their pork is from a Missouri coop of farmers you can read about online and is a cut above most. Both are free of all modern garbage, and ship.
      Also, try for local producers in your area.

      Not So Fast wrote on March 25th, 2010
      • Oh nice! Like I said, I have a hook up in Ohio here. I was speaking to the rest of the country as I see grain fed pork even at Joel Salatin’s farm.

        Daniel Merk wrote on March 25th, 2010
        • You are right, even most pastured pork gets some grain. Chicken too. We have to do the best we can!

          Not So Fast wrote on March 25th, 2010
      • I can second Not So Fast’s recommendation of Slanker’s for the pork. In fact, I just made this very recipe with a picnic roast from them and it’s by far the best pulled pork I’ve ever had.

        prib81 wrote on March 27th, 2010
  26. Sorry, “know of”, I’m not really stupid.

    Not So Fast wrote on March 25th, 2010
  27. Someone once told me that this cut of meat was the most forgiving. I’m thankful that statement is true. I roally screwed up cooking it last night. Got it all ready, pushed it into the oven, set my timer and 4 hours later came back. Took one look at realized I hadn’t covered the piece of meat. For anyone who doesn’t cook, you can’t really roast these tough pieces of meat without some moisture. Let’s just say after 4 hours it still was no where near fork tender. Dinner ended up being left overs as a result. BUT…I threw in about a cup of Chicken broth, some mushrooms, 1/2 cup of Whisky, covered it up this time and let it cook another three hours. Since it was late I threw it outside to cool off for the night and went to bed(was in the low 30’s here, no worries) and re-heated some of it for breakfast along with a big bowl of Spinach. YUMMMMM! Best pulled pork I’ve ever had.

    Brian wrote on March 26th, 2010
  28. Patty – Why does the salt have to be kosher?

    Holly wrote on March 28th, 2010
    • Holly, kosher salt is more accurately called koshering salt – thus named because it is used to draw moisture out of meat after slaughter. The grind size of the salt is larger than table salt and therefore it doesn’t dissolve as readily. It also doesn’t contain iodine.

      prib81 wrote on March 28th, 2010
      • Prib pretty much got that. I find that iodine dries the meat out a bit too much. If you decide to use a different salt, use less because of the difference in grain size.

        Allbeef Patty wrote on March 29th, 2010
  29. We made this last week,and it is absolutely fabulous! Pork was just falling apart, and full of flavor. Loved the marinade. There were plenty of leftovers, and I heated those in a cast iron skillet for more crispy bits.
    Thank you so much – we have a new favorite!

    PetElf wrote on March 29th, 2010
  30. Delicious! Cumin + Lime is fabulous. I undercooked the roast and didn’t have it fully covered :( but it was excellent. I also used sea salt not knowing that kosher salt had special properties. I actually ate the entire roast and drank the juice (absolutely disgusted my roommate…she thinks I will die of a heart attack in 10 years!).

    matt the artist wrote on March 30th, 2010
  31. Made this yesterday for friends that came over for dinner. WOW!!!!!!! Other than bacon, I have not eaten pork in 10+ years…this was AMAZING! I followed the recipe to a T, including all the cloves of garlic inserted deep down inside to make it that much more delicious! THANK YOU for this recipe…it will definitely be a “multiple-times-a-month” meal!!!

    FinallyFixed wrote on April 8th, 2010
  32. I made this recipe a few weeks ago…it was great except I found it to be a bit salty (yeah I used the upper limit of salt…2 TBS since my pork cut was larger than the recipe called for) so next time I make it I will definitely cut the salt back by at least half. Other than that this was awesome!

    Cindy wrote on April 12th, 2010
    • It really depends on the size of the grains of salt. Some Kosher salts are very coarse, so two TBSPs of a coarse salt is probably more like one of a fine salt.

      Allbeef Patty wrote on April 12th, 2010
      • I used the kosher large granule sized salt….I will make it again and see what happens with half the amt of salt.

        Cindy wrote on May 5th, 2010
  33. So I made this..
    It turned out OK but I think my meat was way to fatty.

    I think I could have used more time as well.

    Noah wrote on April 26th, 2010

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