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Pork shoulder is dirt cheap and, when handled correctly, the most delicious thing you will ever eat, ever. It’s full of collagen, which is a special type of protein that binds muscle fibers together. Collagen, on its own, is a lot like rubber; it’s chewy and bouncy and not a whole lot of fun. But if you heat it up, it melts into pools of meaty wonder. When this is done properly, it transforms the toughest, gnarliest cuts of meat into tender, juicy, finger lickingly sticky piles of delicious.

Even though we can’t really call our recipe BBQ— since it’s not smoked— and we would never say that we’re authorities on Western North Carolina BBQ: we do have a handful of North Carolinians who think this shit is pretty legit. The smokey sweetness from the molasses and paprika fill out some of what’s missing from skipping a long hardwood smoke and the tangy, spicy sauce reminds us of our favorite pit stop on road trips to Tarheel Territory: Red Bridges BBQ.

Posted by Rachel A. Published See Rachel A.'s 7 projects »

You Will Need

  • How to cook a pork burger. Western North Carolina Pulled Pork Sandwiches With Slaw - Step 1
    Step 1

    Western North Carolina Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Slaw
    Serves 4-6


    4-6lbs Bone-In Pork Shoulder
    Heavy Duty Aluminum Foil
    Deep Pie Plate or Roasting Dish
    1 tbsp strong Coffee-
    2 tbsp Chili Powder
    1 tsp Dry Mustard
    1 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
    1/2 tbsp Salt
    1 tsp Black Pepper
    1 tbsp Onion Powder
    1 tbsp Paprika
    1/3 cup Brown Sugar
    2-3 tbsp Molasses
    Rinse and thoroughly dry the Pork. Place it on a piece (or two) of Aluminum Foil in your Pie Plate.

    In a small bowl, combine all of the remaining ingredients to form a thick paste. Slather it on your Pork, being sure to hit any crevices or folds in the meat, and seal everything up in the Aluminum Foil.

    Cook on the grill away from direct heat, or, you know, in an oven, at 350°F for about 1 1/2 hours. You’ll know it’s done when the bone slides out cleanly with absolutely no effort, and the pork starts yielding under its own gravity (and a meat thermometer reads at least 145°F).

    Let the Pork cool slightly and start shredding with your fork or fingers. If you want better distributed collagen, let it cool completely before pulling and gently reheat in a pan or under your broiler. Never the microwave. Why does this work? IDFK. It just does.

    Serve drizzled with Sauce and slathered in Slaw on a bun. Pretzel Rolls are obviously the best choice, but cheap-o white bread or sandwich buns are gonna do some pretty good stuff, too.

  • Step 2


    1/2 cup Cider Vinegar
    1 tbsp Chili Powder
    1 tsp Garlic Powder
    1/4 tsp Salt
    1 tbsp Molasses
    1 tbsp Tomato Paste
    1 tsp Honey
    2 tsp plain Yellow Mustard, preferably Plochman’s

    Dump it in a jar with a tight fitting lid (like a mason jar or squeeze bottle) and shake until combined. It should be runny and super vinegar-y. Let sit for a few hours (like while your pork is hanging out) and use sparingly.

  • Step 3


    8 oz bag Cole Slaw Mix
    1/4 cup Mayonnaise
    1/4 cup Buttermilk
    1/8 tsp Cider Vinegar
    2 tsp Sugar
    1/4 tsp Salt
    1/2 tsp Celery Seeds
    1/2 tsp Dry Mustard

    This isn’t rocket surgery, kids. We’re gonna let you figure this one out on your own.

    Dress your Slaw no less than 15— but no more than 60— minutes before serving.

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