Shredding pork is a time-honored skill that will make you the hero of any potluck lunch, backyard barbecue, or family feast.
This inexpensive, mouth-watering dish can feed a lot of people. It takes time to get it right, but it’s pretty easy to make.
Today, we’re going to talk about taking a cut of pork from the butcher to the shredder. We’ll tell you how to pick and prepare the cut and then give you a few of the best ways to pull it apart.
What You Need
You can pull pork apart using any of the following tools:
- 2 Sturdy forks
- 1 Set of meat claws
- 1 Potato masher
- 1 Stand mixer with a flat beater paddle attachment
You only need one of the item sets from the above bullet points to get your pork pulling on. Check out the sections below for our numbered instructions on how to use whichever item you choose.
How To Shred Pork With A Fork
You may or may not have the other more specialized utensils, but practically everyone has two forks. Make sure to use sturdy cutlery. Flimsy forks will just frustrate you.
Time To Complete: 15mins
What You Need
- 2 Forks
- Take the pork out of the pot, and put it in a roasting pan with lots of surface area. The sides of the pan should be high enough to catch most of the juice splatters but low enough to let your forks go to work.
- Hold a fork in each hand, and stab them both into the roast. The forks should face outward with the tines back to back.
- Pull the forks apart gently, and the meat should pull off the bone in long strips.
- Set the strips aside, and keep pulling!
- If you’re pulling a lot of pork, it can take half an hour or more to do it alone. If you have more than two sturdy forks, you can get a family member or friend to help you. Separate the whole roast into two chunks in two pans, and hand your phone to your friend so they can read these instructions too. Many forks make lighter work of pulling pork.
- Bigger chunks are better if you’re serving the pulled pork by itself. If you plan to put it in something, like a sandwich or a taco, shred it a bit more finely.
When To Shred Pulled Pork?
You can use pulled pork in sandwiches, tacos, stews, lettuce wraps, or on a pizza. It tastes great mixed with barbecue sauce, chili, tomato sauce, or even guacamole.
Whatever you plan to use it in, the secret to getting the softest shreds is to use a cut of meat with lots of connective tissue and lots of marbling. The connective tissue will give the right texture to your final result, and the fat will melt into the tissue as it cooks, slowly tenderizing the tissue until you can pull it apart with ease.
That’s why we recommend using pork shoulder as the base for your shredded pork dishes. Most sub-primal pork shoulder cuts have the right texture and fat content to make perfect shredded pork. These include:
- Shoulder blade
- Picnic roast
- Boston butt
- Blade roast
Pork shoulder is one of the cheapest cuts of meat you can get. It’s cheap because it usually takes a while to prepare right. The fat needs to be rendered slowly to make the meat moist and easy to pull.
The best way to prepare the shoulder for pulling is to leave it partially submerged in sauce on a low flame for a few hours. You’ll need a large pot to be able to fit the whole roast plus its liquid.
The sauce can be any savory flavored liquid you think you might like hints of in your final result. You can even mix and match a few different condiments and sauces to make your own unique marinade.
Here are a few things we’ve seen used:
- Barbecue sauce
- Orange juice
- Pineapple juice
We recommend mixing something a bit tart with something a bit sweet to bring out the pork’s natural sweetness. Don’t cover the meat all the way with your sauce. Depending on the depth of your pot, you only need enough liquid to submerge around a quarter to a third of the chunk.
You’ll know it’s ready to shred when you poke the pork with a fork and a sliver of meat slips right off the bone. This can take anywhere from around four to 10 hours, so you’ll have plenty of time to read more of our fun foodie articles.
The Meat Claw Method
Sometimes called shredding claws or bear claws, meat claws are specifically made for shredding slow-cooked roasts. Broader and sturdier than forks, these look like sharp combs with handles. They can cut your prep time considerably and are probably a good investment if you pull a lot of pork.
The best way to Wolverine your meat is to sink one claw deep into the middle to hold it steady and then carve into it with the other claw. Turn the pan sideways after the first pass and do a perpendicular shred to make the chunks smaller.
Potato Masher Prep
If you have a potato masher in a drawer somewhere, you can use it to complement your fork pulling. This method uses the side of the masher instead of the flat bottom.
Hold the masher’s side against the roast and gently press down. Large pieces of meat should fall away from the chunk.
This is quicker than just forking, but the strips of meat will be thicker and not as uniform. We recommend doing a second pass using your forks if you want thinner pork shreds.
Shred Pork With A Stand Mixer
The quickest way to shred pork is with a stand mixer. Stand mixer pork pulling is extremely efficient, but it can be messy. You’ll finish the job in record time, but you may be pulling pork out of your hair when it’s over.
Fill the mixing bowl with as much meat as you dare. Remember, you’ll be attacking this chunk with an electronic tornado, so leave some room in the bowl.
Use your stand mixer’s flat beater paddle attachment. Set the mixer on medium speed, and make sure you hit all the chunks. Don’t mix it for too long, or the meat may turn to mush. Around 30 seconds to a minute is probably enough.
Shredded pork starts with any inexpensive shoulder cut with high-fat content. You’ll need a few hours, a low flame, and lots of sauce to render the fat and tenderize the meat. Once the meat is soft enough, you should be able to pull it off the bone and then into thin shreds with just two sturdy forks.
You can shred it a bit quicker by starting with a potato masher or using meat claws. If you’re in a hurry, you can use your stand mixer on medium speed to go to town on the chunk.