Since joining Butcher Box, we’ve received many wonderfully tasty cuts of meat. Their ground pork and beef are both delicious, the steaks are always amazing, and their pork tenderloin is easily the most flavorful version of that cut that I’ve ever tried. So when our last shipment arrived, and the box included half a pork butt, I was reluctantly excited. I knew the meat would be delicious (and I was not disappointed), but I needed to figure out how I was going to cook it.
Pork butt is a complicated cut of meat. Despite it’s misleading name (which is a reference to the barrels, or “butts”, in which pork was stored for curing and transport), Boston butt is a cut from the shoulder. It can be bone in or out, as was the half butt that I received. The only real problem with pork butt is that it’s a combination of muscles, fats and connective tissues from the shoulder, neck, and upper foreleg, making it an especially tough – and therefor, historically undervalued – cut of meat.
In order to make all of those muscle fibers, tissues and fats into a single, delicious dish, pork butts need to be cooked slow and low, and therefor lend themselves well to braising, roasting or smoking. In other words, it won’t grill up well, that is unless I want to turn my Weber into a jerry-rigged smoker and burn (pun intended) a day and a half making sure the temperature is right. I wasn’t going to do any of that.
Enter: the Instant Pot.
First, I just need to make it clear that I have not drank the IP Kool-Aid. I’m not a member of the IP cult, and I have not purchased personalized sticker labels for my appliance. That’s weird. I also hold that for MOST things, it doesn’t really save that much time in the kitchen.
BUT – when it comes to difficult to break down proteins (and weirdly, soups), the Instant Pot is a winner in my book, which is why I busted it out, and came up with this surprisingly simple – and super tasty – pulled pork recipe.
- 3.5 lb pork butt
- 1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1/2 tablespoon chili powder
- 1/4 tablespoon cumin
- 1/2 tablespoon garlic
- 1/2 tablespoon onion
- 1/2 tablespoon oregano
- 1 cup beef or chicken broth
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup of bbq sauce
- Note: This recipe takes about 2 hours overall.
- About an hour before you want to start cooking, prepare the pork by slicing off any thicker piece of fat, and then cutting the pork butt into (roughly) 2 inch cubes.
- Mix up your rub in a large bowl by combining the brown sugar, salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin, garlic, onion powder, and oregano together in a bowl. Then toss the cubes of pork in the rub. Cover the seasoned pork with plastic wrap (or put it all in a big ziploc) and place it in the fridge for an hour or so.
- Set up your Instant Pot, and put in the seasoned pork.
- You CAN saute the cubes in two batches to give them a bit of a light brown crust before cooking, but after a bunch of experimentation with various recipes in the IP, I’m still not convinced that this step makes much of a difference.
- Pour the broth, vinegar, and bbq sauce over the pork.
- Close the Instant Pot, and set it to cook on high (manual) for 40 minutes.
- Allow the pressure to release naturally – this took another 15 minutes.
- Remove the pork from the liquid (there will be a lot of liquid at the bottom of the pot) and use two forks to shred the pork – this is the point where you should give it a taste, and either season it, add hot sauce, more bbq sauce, or add back some of the liquid from the pot.
- I served it up on toasted buns with some slaw (use a store bought kind, or make a batch of my apple slaw, which goes really well with pork)