1 7-ounce can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, optional (see note)
1 (4 to 5 pound) pork shoulder (also called pork butt roast or “picnic” roast. [yeah, I don't understand that one either.] )
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 large onion,peeled and quartered
1 (12-ounce) can Dr. Pepper (if you avoid High Fructose Corn Syrup, look for “throwback” Dr. Pepper.
1 tablespoon balsamic or red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
freshly ground black pepper, about 1/2 teaspoon
For the Sauce
2 cups gluten-free barbecue sauce OR
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup strained pork juices (see “for the sauce” below)
chopped chipotle peppers (see “for the sauce” below)
Cooking Time: About Six Hours
Total Time: About Seven Hours
Serves: Six with leftovers
The chipotle peppers add a spicy note to this pulled pork. If you don't want your pork spicy, omit the peppers.
If using a Dutch oven, preheat oven to 325°F.
Remove peppers from can. Do not drain, you need the sauce for the recipe. Lightly chop chipotle peppers. Set aside.
If you haven't already, pat the pork shoulder dry. Remove the “fat cap” by sliding a knife, gently, between the fat and the meat. Try to cut away as little meat as possible. It's better to leave a little fat than to throw away the meat. Discard the fat. You don't need it. Again, pat the pork shoulder dry.
Heat olive oil in a large (12-inch) skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium-high heat. Brown (sear) the pork on all sides, about ten minutes total. Use tongs to turn the meat. Remove the meat from the skillet and place into a large slow cooker or Dutch oven. Keep the skillet on.
Using your hands, break the onion quarters into individual pieces. The onion quarters should come apart easily. Cook the onions until they just begin to turn translucent, about three minutes. Stir occasionally.
Place the onions in the slow cooker or Dutch oven. In a small bowl, gently whisk together Dr. Pepper, vinegar, dark brown sugar, a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper, and the adobo sauce from the canned chipotle peppers. Pour mixture over pork. Spoon chopped peppers over pork. Cover.
For the Slow Cooker
Cook on low for six hours or until tender. If possible, turn the pork every two hours.
For a Dutch Oven
Cook for five to six hours or until tender. If possible, turn the pork every two hours.
Cook's Note: If pork is tough after cooking time, keep cooking. It'll get tender, I promise!
Once pork is tender. Remove pork from cooking vessel. If you are making your own sauce, don't throw the cooking liquid away.
Place on a large cutting board. Using two forks, gently pull pork apart. Work with the grain of the pork and it'll come right apark. Remove any bones. Place shredded pork into a large bowl. Add the barbeque sauce. (If you are making your own sauce, see below.) Serve or reheat in cooking vessel, about 20 minutes.
For the Sauce
If desired, make the barbeque sauce. First, using tongs, remove some of the chipotle peppers from the cooking liquid. Place peppers into small bowl. Set aside. Then ladle the cooking liquid through a sieve into a glass measuring cup, as you would do for gravy. The fat will float to the top. Ladle it off.
In a medium bowl, combine ketchup and 1/2 cup strained cooking liquid. Stir in a few chipotle peppers. Using fork, stir the sauce together, breaking up chipotle peppers as you go. Taste. If desired, add more of the reserved peppers. Combine with shredded pork.