Pastured Pulled Pork

by Meg Cotner on December 14, 2011

Recently, I had the opportunity learn a bit about butchering a pig – how to take it apart and turn it into the various cuts you see in the market (or at the farmer’s market). A friend who has excellent knife skills and some butchering experience led the workshop, and was really great about explaining what the different cuts were.

We lucked out and had half a local pastured pig for the workshop, and I was also fortunate to be able to take home a piece of the shoulder cut, a boneless blade roast. This roast had quite the fat layer on it.

pork blade roast

Make that a delicious fat layer. Over the many hours it cooked, the fat basted the meat – and some dripped into the pan, leaving me some wonderful lard for future cooking. ┬áThen there was the disintegration of any connective tissue during the long roasting process, making for meat that really just fell apart. It was a truly tasty transformation.

But first, I created a marinade for the meat.

pork marinade

In it was garlic, oregano, salt, ground grains of paradise, citrus juice, apple cider vinegar, and a little bit of bacon fat (for viscosity). I used grains of paradise – a species in the ginger family with a peppery flavor – because I ran out of regular black pepper.

After I created the marinade, I put it on the meat and let it sit for an hour in a glass pan, covered in plastic wrap, in the fridge, and then 30 minutes on the counter, warming up a bit.

covered in marinade

Then I roasted it for many hours. Partway through, I added some beer to the liquid in the pan. It came out looking like this:

roasted pork shoulder

Not the prettiest thing, but I chalk that up to having picked at it during the cooking process to, um, test the flavor (it was fantastic!). And then I pulled it apart into this:

pork pulled

Like I said above, the flavor was fantastic. I loved the savoriness of it and how easy it was to pull it apart. It was delightfully porky. That night I just ate it by itself. The following day I ate it warmed up with some homemade salsa verde I made over the summer. Now roast pork with salsa verde is an epic combination – I loved it!

I also found that this pork was fairly filling – such is the beauty of real food.



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Kiri W. December 14, 2011 at 6:22 am

Wow, looks fantastic and so tender! I love the spice mix, too.
I’ve never butchered a pig (just dissected for my degree), but I’d be really interested to learn. Great opportunity!

Meg December 16, 2011 at 8:12 am

It was really interesting to learn about taking a pig apart – I’m glad I had the opportunity. Looking forward to sending you cookies in the new year!

hennifer December 14, 2011 at 1:13 pm

I’d really love some suggestions about how to hook up with similar groups in my neck of the woods! That looks amazing and I’d love to learn more about different cuts of meat and find good source for my meats.

Meg December 16, 2011 at 8:21 am

hennifer, I’d suggest searching Meetup and Facebook groups or pages to see what’s going on. You also might contact the Weston A Price Foundation (WAPF) chapter in Salem – here’s more info:

No doubt, they would be in the know for this sort of thing. Or they could lead you to people who do know more. Also, see if there are any resources near you via the site:

A lot of people interested in raw milk are also interested in pastured/grass-fed meats, as well as nose-to-tail eating, and have sources.

Good luck and let me know what you find out!

Lexi December 15, 2011 at 9:35 pm

I LOVE that you learned about butchering! I’ve been thinking about doing this for ages. And that pulled pork looks just stunning.

Meg December 16, 2011 at 8:21 am

Thanks, Lexi! I really want to know more about the meat I consume. Workshops like this are really helpful. Hope you are well!

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