Bryan Voltaggio’s Pulled Pork Sandwiches

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Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 405 minutes
Servings: 8

True Kansas City barbecue is pit-cooked low and slow and spiced with smoky-sweet tomato sauce. Crispy burnt ends are a local legend. Inspired by the burnt ends at Danny Edwards Blvd. BBQ in Kansas City, MO, chef Bryan Voltaggio created these pulled pork sandwiches so you can replicate that smoky, spicy flavor at home.


  • 1/4 cup lightly packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 Tbs. kosher salt
  • 2 Tbs. paprika
  • 1 Tbs. freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 Tbs. dried English mustard
  • 2 tsp. ground fennel seed
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder or onion powder
  • 1 pork shoulder, 3 to 4 lb.
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 1/2 cups apple juice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Soft white dinner rolls for serving
  • Cowtown barbecue sauce for serving


In a bowl, stir together the brown sugar, salt, paprika, pepper, thyme, coriander, dried mustard, fennel and garlic powder. Score a diamond pattern on the fatty side of the pork. Insert the knife tip into the pork to create 6 small pockets, spacing them evenly. Insert 1 garlic clove into each pocket. Generously rub the pork on all sides with 6 to 8 Tbs. of the spice mixture; reserve the remaining mixture. Wrap the pork with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight.

Preheat an oven to 350°F.

Remove the plastic wrap from the pork. Place the pork, fat side up, in the oven-safe insert of a slow cooker. Transfer to the oven and roast until the top of the pork starts to crisp, 45 to 60 minutes. Transfer the insert to the slow-cooker base and add the apple juice and water. Cover and cook on low according to the manufacturer’s instructions, turning the pork occasionally, until the meat pulls apart easily with a fork, 6 to 7 hours.

Transfer the pork to a deep bowl. Using 2 forks, pull the meat apart into large shreds or, using a cleaver, chop it into large chunks. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Using a handheld smoking gun, smoke with 2 to 3 chambers of applewood chips. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes.

Strain the cooking sauce into a bowl. Ladle 1/2 to 3/4 cup sauce over the pork. Stir in 1 to 2 tsp. of the reserved spice mixture. Serve immediately with rolls and barbecue sauce. Serves 6 to 8.

Recipe by Chef Bryan Voltaggio, inspired by Danny Edwards Blvd. BBQ, Kansas City, MO.

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