Cooking, Food, Recipe

No Smoker? No Problem!

dry rub
Herbs and spices

I’ve been very happy to have a grill in my life again. But I do miss smoking my meats… and a smoker isn’t an option, we just don’t have room. That, and if we move soon as we plan to, I don’t want to deal with any more large items than I have to. The First Reader is happily in concurrence with this.

So what to do? Well, I can get a lot of flavor out of a dry rub and a long, slow roast. I usually do my pulled pork in a slow cooker, but it’s just not the same, and after a few encounters recently with really good BBQ, I wanted something that had more flavor. While it’s not the deep smokiness of the real thing, it’s plenty good as it is, and much more accessible to those who can’t have a smoker for whatever reason.

Ideally, this would be started the evening before, but I was putting a rush job on it to have it done between lunch and suppertime. It came out well, but could have used another hour in the oven and the flavors would have been even better with an overnight cure in the rub. Next time…

Pulled Pork Meal
Pulled pork sandwiches, baked beans, and cornbread.

Pulled Pork


  • Dry Rub:
  • handful of brown sugar (about 1/3 c)
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt (larger flakes work better than table salt)
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tbsp onion flakes
  • 2 tsp dried sage
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 4-5 lb pork roast
  • 6-7 peeled garlic cloves
  • Large can of baked beans
  • about 1 c of your favorite BBQ sauce


  • Preheat oven to 325 deg F.
  • Place roast in pan, fat layer up. Cut small slits in the fat and push the garlic cloves in until they barely show.
  • Slather the whole thing, bottom and sides too, with the dry rub. If you want, at this point you can wrap tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Or proceed to the next step.
  • Place roast in oven for 3-4 hours, then check to see if the meat can easily be 'pulled' with a fork. You will note that the outside is crusty, but the inside is juicy.
  • When the meat is almost falling loose of the bones, remove from oven but leave the oven on. Wrap the roast in foil, then kitchen towels and set it aside to rest. This is an important step.
  • Pour the can of beans into the baking pan you had the roast in.
  • Fold any drippings into the beans.
  • Put the pan and beans back in the oven.
  • In 40 minutes to an hour, unwrap and pull the meat off the bones and into shreds with two forks.
  • Put in large bowl and drizzle BBQ sauce over it, then gently mix it in. The sauce should just be enough for a light coating of the meat, too much and you will overwhelm your flavor from the rub.
  • Take the beans out of the oven, stir, and serve.
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    rubbed roast
    The roast with dry rub on it. The garlic cloves are already in.
    pork roast
    See the nice crust you get after a long, slow roast.

    The amounts on the dry rub can be fiddled with, as can the ingredients in it. You will want the sugar, salt, and onion, everything else is variable. We served the pulled pork on buns, with beans and cornbread, but I also like it with greens or coleslaw rather than the double bread. The beans were very good this way, really elevated the tinned version to tasty. I should try making them from scratch, but I didn’t have time on this day. That’s another process that has to begin the day before if you are soaking dry beans!

    pulled pork
    At the doneness stage, where a fork put in the meat can flake it apart. See the garlic cloves?
    elevating tinned beans
    Baked beans done with the drippings, so much flavor!
    Pulled Pork
    Pulled pork with BBQ sauce on it. Not too much sauce.

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