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in the kitchen with: ming thompson part 2

by Kristina Gill

We try to do mostly vegetarian recipes on the column to increase the possibility of all readers being able to try the food out in the kitchen. Every so often, though, we can’t turn down amazing recipes that contain meat, especially if the letters BBQ can in any way be associated with them. Ming Thompson, who grew up in a family that runs a barbecue restaurant in Virginia, was a natural to share her recipes for pulled pork, slaw and barbecue sauce with us. A pulled pork sandwich is a compulsory meal for me upon return to the US each year, Southerner that I am. This year, I had the extreme pleasure of having one from Fox Bros BBQ in Atlanta with fellow foodie, Broderick. Of course it was complete with slaw, barbecue sauce and pickles. Once you try this, you will find it hard to go back to buying it from somewhere else!

If you don’t eat meat, there is an apple-cabbage slaw recipe and a barbecue sauce recipe below, which are both vegetarian.  Alternatively, you can check out Ming’s other recipe for pistachio olive oil cake with fig compote filling and cream cheese frosting. — Kristina

About Ming: Ming Thompson was born and raised in Southwest Virginia, where she grew up in the kitchen of her parents’ restaurant, Cuz’s Uptown Barbeque. She likes to make things out of paper and she used to make cupcakes for fun. She currently works as an architect in San Francisco.

CLICK HERE for the full recipe after the jump!

Pulled Braised Pork with Apple-Cabbage Slaw and Homemade Barbecue Sauce

Pulled Braised Pork
After a few hours in the oven with some simple ingredients, a pork shoulder emerges browned and tender enough to pull apart with a fork.

Marinating time: anywhere from two hours to a day
Cooking time: five hours
Serves six to eight people


  • 1 pork shoulder — 5 to 6 pounds
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper


  • 1 green apple
  • 2 red onions
  • 2 cups water


  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1–2 tsp hot sauce (I use a vinegar-based one like Tabasco or Crystal)

1. A few hours to a day before cooking the pork shoulder, rub it down with brown sugar, salt and pepper. Place in a Dutch oven and let rest in the refrigerator.

2. When you’re ready to cook the pork shoulder, heat the oven to 325F degrees.  Slice a green apple and two red onions into thin slices. Lift the shoulder out of the dutch oven and place to the side. Place the slices on the bottom of the Dutch oven and pour in water. Replace pork in pot and cover. Bake covered for five hours. At the end of this time, the pork should be browned and tender enough that you can stick a fork through the piece of meat. The apples and onions have become soft and brown, and the bottom of the pot is filled with a layer of fat. Remove the pork shoulder from the pot, place on a cutting board or in a bowl and let cool.

3. When it’s cool enough to handle, pull it apart with forks. If you encounter large pieces of fat, put them aside. Once shredded to a good consistency, place pork in a bowl or pot and add in cider vinegar, brown sugar, salt, pepper and hot sauce. If you want, you can add in the dissolved apples and onions from the bottom of the pot — they add back in some fat and give the pork some color. Just before serving, I like to stir in a 1/2 cup of barbecue sauce (see recipe below).

4. Serve on grilled bread or buns with Apple Cabbage Slaw and Barbecue Sauce (see recipes below).

If you want to wait a few days before eating it, I suggest storing it in a pot in the fridge. When ready to eat, add some water into the pot and reheat slowly while covered.

Apple Cabbage Slaw
Marinating time: at least two hours

  • 1/2 head cabbage
  • 1 green apple
  • 1 red onion
  • handful of parsley
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Slice cabbage, apple and onion into thin slices. Chop parsley. Mix together in a bowl with cider vinegar and salt and pepper. Marinate in the refrigerator for a few hours.

Barbecue Sauce
Cooking time: 30 minutes to an hour

  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup beer or water
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • a pinch of chili powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • hot sauce to taste

Combine all ingredients in a small pot. Cook at a low boil uncovered until thickened and rich, at least 30 minutes.

Why Ming Chose This Recipe
This recipe is a recent family invention. It never occurred to me that pulled pork could be made at home until my brother whipped some up in his crockpot. Smitten with this idea but without a crockpot, I decided to put together a recipe using my new favorite winter cooking method, braising, and my old reliable winter cooking tool, the Dutch oven. My parents offered advice on a homemade barbecue sauce, similar to one they serve in their own restaurant. Lately, I’ve been cooking this recipe again and again; it’s incredibly simple to make, the ingredients are affordable and it never fails to please a hungry crowd.

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  • yes please, I’ll be making this tomorrow.

    one question – I don’t have a dutch oven, can this be appropriated for a crockpot? and if so, how many hours and what setting would be used? thanks!

  • I agree with Michelle – I have a crock pot but no dutch
    oven – I know Ming said this was originally done in a crock pot –
    can that process be explained too? CANT WAIT TO MAKE THIS

  • What’s perfect about the apple cabbage slaw is that it’s great for the diet I’m on! Thanks for the idea!

  • I, too, have a crockpot but not a dutch oven and would love instructions for making this with a crockpot!! Looks amazing

  • Hi Crockpot Fans! My very smart little brother says that it
    should be cooked in the crockpot for 8-10 hours (perfect to leave
    on while you’re gone to work). I would include the same ingredients
    and follow the same instructions as in the dutch oven recipe. It
    should easily fall apart with a fork when it’s ready to be eaten. I
    hope it works out well for you!

  • Is it supposed to cook on low or high for the crockpot?
    Considering it’s a rather large hunk of meat my guess would be

  • to add a bit more BBQ flavor to it, I add in a bit of
    liquid smoke seasoning. SO good. I always do mine in a crock pot-
    more energy efficient anyway!

  • what size dutch oven is in the photos?? i am looking to buy
    one and can’t decide which size is best….

  • Hi All- A few additional comments on the recipe- Braising-
    I have the baking set up to keep the liquid at a gentle simmer, not
    at a boil. I am the kind of cook who is always opening the pot lid
    to check on the food, so I like to monitor the shoulder’s progress
    as it goes. If you check on your pork and it’s really boiling in
    there, turn down the heat a bit. I think this would do best at the
    ‘low’ setting on a crockpot, but some crockpot expert out there
    might know better than me. Also, I highly recommend the book “All
    About Braising” by Molly Stevens if you want to learn more about
    the process. Too much liquid?- You can see from the photos above
    that I never end up with much liquid in my pot afterwards. I have
    had some feedback from people that end up with quite a bit of
    liquid in their pot. If that happens, I would just remove and pull
    the meat, then reduce the liquid a bit and add some of it back into
    the pulled meat for moisture.

  • This looks wonderful and my husband will love it. I’ll be
    putting it in the Crock pot but, thanks it is a great looking

  • so nice to see some meat up on here! I can’t eat any of the yummy looking high-carb stuff you guys post all the time, but this… this I can do! we buy pork shoulder weekly (so cheap, so tender when cooked properly). will be giving this recipe a go!
    thanks ming :)

  • @Barbara – very nice to hear support for meat! We should have a couple more recipes for you soon, and I will look into finding some lower carb recipes as well. Thank you for letting us know!

  • I would also love more meat recipes – my husband is going to love this pork shoulder. I can’t wait to try it out =)

  • This looked so delicious I couldn’t resist…I the pork and slaw this weekend and have been snacking on the leftovers ever since. Terrific and simple — thanks Ming!

  • @n.nyc – I just got home and checked my dutch ovens. There are two that I use frequently: this big orange one, a 9.5 quart oval, perfect for huge batches of chili and large hunks of meat; and a 4.5 quart round black one, good for soups and small braises.

  • My husband helped me make this yesterday and it was mouth watering. This is MOST definitely going into my recipe box. Thank you for sharing!

  • I loved this recipe. BBQ’s pork has never been one of my favorite dishes…now it is. This recipe is excellent not too sweet. You get five stars from me.

  • I made all this over the weekend and everything turned out amazing. I followed the recipe just as it said, without any sort of fuss over the food. The meat turned out moist with a beautiful tenderness, everyone raved over the slaw with apples, and the BBQ sauce got great remarks. A solid dinner. Super recommended.

    NOTE: After the meat was cooked I removed all the liquid from the dutch oven before shredding it and adding in the seasoning — worked perfect.

  • Just wanted to say that we just had this for dinner and it was amazing. Rave reviews. This is definitely my go-to recipe for pulled pork from now on. I did it in a small crockpot and should probably have left out the water, as I had to keep removing liquid from it all day. If I ever get a dutch oven, I’ll do it in there to get those nice crispy edges. Thank you Ming!

  • This has got to be one of the simplest and easiest recipes I have ever made. Plus, it uses your everyday ingredients which is even better. I will be impressing a lot of guests with this recipe!

  • This recipe looks is so delicious.I loved this recipe. barbecue sauce
    pork has never been one of my favorite dishes…now it is. This recipe is excellent not too sweet. You get five stars from me.

  • Just made this today–and it was great! I used my slow cooker: followed the recipe exactly, except put everything in the crock pot, set it to LOW, took it out 8 hours later…perfection! I’m no crock pot expert, but there seemed to be plenty of liquid, and it kept a continuous gentle simmer. Looking forward to leftovers for lunch and dinner tomorow. PS I really enjoyed the slaw too (esp loved the green apple)–added a nice fresh crunch to my pulled pork sandwich.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Jenni, Waseem, and Megan– thanks for reporting back on how you liked the recipe. It is one of my favorite as well. I always make it, have a meal, and freeze smaller containers for later. Reheating deepens the flavor!

  • I made this recipe last night via crock pot. It. Is. Heavenly. The slaw is tart, the sauce sweet and spicy, the pork melts in your mouth.

    I can’t say enough good things about this recipe! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  • This is such a blessing to find a recipe so delicious! Thanks for sharing.I didn’t have time needed for crockpot so did it in the oven using ceramic crockpot and covering with foil…..so good, worked fine