Brine time: several hours or overnight
Cook time: 4 hours or more **see below
One 2-3 lb. bone-in pastured pork shoulder. You don't want this to be lean!
1 c apple cider vinegar
1/2 c honey, molasses, rapadura, or maple syrup
1/2 c unrefined salt
2 or so quarts of water (enough to cover shoulder in container)
Start by pouring 1/2 c hot water into your glass or ceramic container. Add sweetener and salt and stir to dissolve. Add 1 quart of water and the vinegar, and stir to incorporate. Set the pork shoulder in, and pour enough water to cover the shoulder. Cover container, and let brine in the fridge for several hours or overnight.
1 tbsp fresh ground black pepper
1 tbsp unrefined salt
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp onion flakes or powder
1 tbsp garlic powder
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp cayenne powder
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp thyme
Ceramic roasting pan with lid or slow cooker (If you don't have either, you can improvise with other roasting pans, glass or stainless steel, covering the roast with aluminum foil for part of the cooking)
Several tbsp lard or tallow
Several onions and cloves of garlic
1 apple (optional)
1 quart of stock (beef or chicken)
several bay leaves
fresh sprigs of thyme and oregano (optional)
When ready to cook, preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit, or get your slow cooker ready. Pull shoulder out of brine and dry it off thoroughly. Season and rub liberally with salt and pepper. Meanwhile, heat up 3 tbsp of lard on medium high heat in a sturdy heavy bottomed pot, such as a ceramic roasting pan, or a cast iron skillet. When the oil is hot, but not smoking, place shoulder in pan. Brown each side, then take it out of the pan onto a plate, and turn off heat.
While the shoulder is cooling, pour out the browning fat, and add 2 tbsp of lard to the pan (or slow cooker). Cut up several onions, apple, and garlic coarsely and add to the roasting pan. When the shoulder is cool, generously rub in the dry rub spice mix all over. Place the shoulder in the pan, and add bay leaves, herb sprigs, and stock to fill halfway up the roast. Cover with lid or foil, and place in oven. Cook covered for 4 hours, then remove lid. If you want a shoulder that is on the drier side, cook for an hour or more uncovered. If you want it moister, cook for a half an hour uncovered. If using a slow cooker, don't worry about the lid. You'll know it is done when you can easily pull the pork apart with a fork. Internal temp should be around 200 degrees F.
**Cooking time is variable based on cooking method. In the slow cooker, it can cook all day long at a lower temperature setting. If you want it to cook all day in the oven, set temp to 250 and use enough stock to cover the roast.
When done, remove shoulder to a plate and allow it to cool enough to handle. While it's cooling you can make the optional, but oh so good, sauce. Pull apart the pork with forks or your fingers.
Carolina Style Sauce:
1 c apple cider vinegar
1/2 c honey, maple syrup, or rapadura
1/2 c ketchup
Whisk everything together, and adjust to your taste. To make a thicker and richer sauce, pour the drippings from the roasting pan into a bowl, including the cooked onions and apple, add some, or all, of the Carolina style sauce, and blend until smooth with an immersion blender. It's hard to resist eating this scrumptious savory sauce by the spoonful!