Red Wine Pulled Pork

Pulled Pork is probably one of the best things you will ever make and - once you try this recipe and start spending your Sundays pacing the length of your kitchen and frequently stealing glances at the clock, all while soaking in the warm aromas of your boiling pork - you will wonder how you went this long without this dish in your life.

An added bonus is that the dish is made using pork shoulder, which is also called pork butt in some parts of the world, despite having nothing to do with a swine's posterior. Pork shoulder is one of the cheapest cuts of meat you can lay your hands on - but it creates such a strong impression in this dish, and it is easy to cook. Quite the opposite of a beef filet, which is very expensive and easy to overcook to ruin.

This dish takes time to prepare, but it is like taking the time to hike up a mountain or to write that short story you have been putting off, or to raise a child. You cannot beat the sense of satisfaction when it all comes together at the end. Especially when you see the facial expressions of your dinner guests as they spoon the tender, flaky, and moist pork into their mouths. And then you can casually remark that you spent seven hours - the whole day - on dinner, and soak in the compliments and praise.

Yes, I said seven hours. Make sure you are ready for the commitment.

For 4 to 6 servings, you will need:

For the rub:
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 3 tablespoons of paprika powder
  • 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon of coarse salt (if you have it, use fine salt otherwise)
  • 1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of pepper
- Note that this is a strong, spicy rub. Feel free to reduce the amount for a milder pulled pork!

For the Mirepoix:
  • 2 onions
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 stick of celery

For the rest:
  • 650g of pork shoulder, also called pork butt (but still comes from the shoulder)
  • 120g of bacon or lardons
  • 1 cup of chicken stock
  • 1 bottle of red wine. Something rich and heavy, I used a shiraz-cabernet blend from South East Australia, but this dish is just has comfortable with a burgundy or Côte-du-Rhone, for example. 

Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 7 hours

First, add the dry rub ingredients to a mortar. If you do not have a mortar and pestle, you can use a food processor, spice mixer, or any other creative means to make the paste.

Mash away with the pestle until you get a paste.

Rub the paste all over the pork and set aside while we do the rest.

Preheat your oven to 150C (300F).

Now to prepare the mirepoix. Dice up your carrot ...

... and your onions ...

... and your celery.

Now, a mirepoix is by ratio, two parts onion to one part carrot and one part celery. You might not have this exact ratio as your vegetables might be larger or smaller than mine. Check the diced amounts against each other and set aside any extras for use in another dish.

If you are using bacon strips instead of lardons, chop them up into bits.

Finally, time to start cooking.

Heat a heavy bottomed pan, which goes in the oven, over medium high heat and add your bacon or lardons with  a little bit of oil. Cook them up, and then remove from the pan and set aside.

In the same pan, add the pork to sear. If your pan is getting too hot, adjust the temperature. We do not want to burn the outside.

Turn the pork until all sides are seared.

Remove the pork and set aside. In the same pan, add your mirepoix.

Let the mirepoix cook for a few minutes, then add just a bit of the chicken stock to deglaze the pan; and with a wooden spatula, scrape up the browned bits on the bottom.

Continue to cook your mirepoix for about 5 to 7 minutes, and then add the cooked bacon.

Cook the bacon in with the mirepoix for 2 to 3 minutes.

Add your pork on top of the bacon mirepoix ...

... add the rest of the chicken stock and the bottle of wine and bring it to a boil.

Once the liquid is boiling, cover the pot and place it in the oven.

That's it.

No, seriously. Go and do something else for seven hours. You will smell that fatty pork render into the wine sauce and it will tempt you to open the oven and just reach for a serving. Don't touch it. You literally cannot overcook this. In fact, it could arguably be done in less time, but the longer it cooks the better. All those juices and fats are bubbling and boiling, and trapped inside the pot they are making a savory steam around the pork as it just relaxes and allows its tough muscles to give in and melt away. This is a spa day for the pork shoulder, let it relax and leave it alone. For seven hours.

And then, take it out and marvel at the transformation.

What was once a tough, cheap cut of meat from the wrong side of town, has blossomed into something so tender - you can see that part of it has voluntarily fallen away by itself.

With a fork, start pulling (get it? That's where the name comes from!) at the pork, allow it to fall apart into fibres naturally.

You should not need a knife for this, if you do then the pork has not cooked enough, or is not a shoulder cut.

Continue until you have completely separated your pork.

Now mix this in with the rest of the juices and return to the oven for 30 minutes.

Finally, remove and serve.

This can be eaten by itself, there is nothing wrong with that! It also goes well with bread, pasta, in a sandwich or burger, or as a filling for a burrito or enchilada.

As with all the other recipes we put on this site, this is meant to be easy to follow. We are hobby chefs who love to cook, and we are always up for learning new techniques. If you know of anything in this recipe which can be done a different way, whether for increased ease of preparation or better taste, please add a comment below!

Whipped up by Shyamal Addanki


  1. how would you modify this for a slow cooker??

    1. I do not expect that you would have to modify the recipe itself, but obviously you cannot sear the meat in the slow cooker. I would do all the same steps up to cooking the mirepoix in a sautee pan, then add the cooked mirepoix, bacon, and seared pork into the slow cooker. Use some of the remaining stock to deglaze the plan and pour it into the slow cooker. Add the wine to the slow cooker and let it go. I would check the manufacturer's instructions regarding low, medium, or high heat, and the first time you make it I suggest checking the pork hourly after 6 hours to see if it is tender and if there is enough liquid still in the pot. Keep some stock handy, and in case the pork is drying out but is not tender yet, add more liquid.

      Just remember that when you check the pork, you have to take the lid off and you lose all that steam. So wait at least six hours before you check.

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  3. does this reciepe work with chicken breast? any time differences?

    1. To be honest, I would not try it with a chicken breast. The beauty of slow cooking is that it breaks down the collagen in the connective tissue (the chewy bits in meat). When you cook meat such as a pork shoulder for a long time, that collagen hydrolyzes, meaning it melts into gelatin, which is what makes the meat tender and succulent.

      Chicken breast does not have much, if any, collagen. You could try with a full chicken leg, but you wouldn't get quite the same tenderness as the pork. What I would suggest if you want to try it with a chicken leg, is go for weight ratio: i.e, use about 650g of chicken legs (which is a lot) or scale down the other ingredients proportionally. Alternatively, go for a whole chicken slow cooked - that sounds like a plan I want to try too!

      Good luck! Let us know how it turns out!