So, the other day while discussing the fun I’ve been having cooking at the winery lately, the focus for that day was on that tasty charred corn salad with jalapeños. Today I’ll talk about the pork that went with that salad! I wanted to do something fun and full of flavor that would taste great to the group I was cooking for after they spent a ton of time doing very of hard work out in the bright sun. In addition to the salad and this citrusy pulled pork, the menu included red pepper and lime coleslaw plus some lime marinated red onion, fresno chili, and pineapple relish and then the whole thing was served with warm corn tortillas. It was a hit!
This pork is so rewarding because before you even cook it, the acidic citrus marinade works with the chilies to break down a tough pork shoulder into something that eventually becomes soft and yielding. Because I prepare the shoulder this way, cooking it becomes incredibly simple. You really don’t need to sear it in advance or even bring it up on the stove! I like to marinate the pork in the pan I’m going to cook it in, then before I throw it in the oven, I toss the liquids in, cover it with foil, and that’s it! Walk away and forget about it for the night!
Now, I started with a pork shoulder that still had the bone and gave it lots of time, but if you’re in a hurry, by all means grab some boneless pork shoulder and dice it up before marinating it. You could easily get away with a short marinade time, and when you cook it, depending on how small you dice your pork, you could be done cooking in an hour or two!
Naturally, if you’re following along, you know that I’m a huge fan of citrus! If you want a few more ways that you can use this awesome ingredient, you can pretty much check out any of my other posts! However, some of the most citrus-focused recipes are:
Oh! Can’t forget the Spicy Citrus Chicken Breast!
Achiote and Citrus Pulled Pork
- 1 5-7 # pork shoulder, trimmed of excess fat, skin, and sinew
- 1 block achiote paste, broken into smaller pieces
- 2 Tbs lime juice
- 3 Tbs neutral oil, like grapeseed
- 2 Tbs salt
- 1 Tbs cracked black pepper
- 2 tsp mustard powder
- 5 small cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- cups fresh orange juice
- 2 Tbs lime juice (you can also use the squeezed lime pieces from the marinade)
- 1 12 oz can light beer (I like Tecate or Modelo for this if you are ok with beer, and Estrella Damm Daura or Omission if you aren't, but you could use whatever you have on hand)
- Combine all of the ingredients from the marinade, rub all over pork shoulder. The achiote can be hard to break up, but the back of a spoon works well for me. Cover, and refrigerate for 4-8 hours.
- Pull the pork out of the fridge, remove the cover, and allow it to come up in temperature while you're preheating the oven to 250°. (If you aren't marinating your pork in a pan that will hold your shoulder and a lot of liquid, now would be the time to switch to the right vessel.)
- Gently pour the liquids over the pork. (If you're using your squished lime pieces, just push them into the liquid mix. Don't forget to remove them before you shred the pulled pork!)
- Cover the pan tightly with foil and put in the oven.
- Cook for 8-12 hours. If your liquids don't cover the pork, a few hours before you're done cooking, turn the shoulder over so that the exposed meat is submerged. They will have been cooking the whole time since your pan was tightly covered, but they'll have a much better texture if they get to spend at least a few hours in the citrus bath.
- When the pulled pork is falling apart, you're done! If you can pull the bone out of the shoulder with no resistance, you've done it perfectly! You should be able to simply use two forks or a pair of tongs to shred the meat. I like to leave the pork in whatever cooking liquid remains because it stays moist and juicy that way and the flavor just gets more fun as it rests. (Don't have 8-12 hours or you don't trust your stove (or your family...)? You can cook the pork at 350° and it should be pretty nice after just 4-6 hours. The low and slow method is definitely the best, but that doesn't mean it works for everyone!)
Don’t have 8-12 hours or you don’t trust your stove (or your family…)? You can cook the pork at 350° and it should be pretty nice after just 4-6 hours. The low and slow method is definitely the best, but that doesn’t mean it works for everyone!
This pulled pork is great as tacos, but it also makes for a solid sandwich if you’re in to that sort of thing. Really, I could eat this stuff with eggs in the morning, salad greens at lunch, and wrapped in tortillas every night!