Leftover Smoked Pork Shoulder Recipes
Barbecuing is a blast - just you and the grill, the sizzle, the heat, the smell hovering in the air, and at the end, a tasty, juicy, flavorful dinner. Our recipe for Smoked Pork Shoulder is phenomenal for your barbecue, but it makes a ton. What happens to the meat that doesn’t get eaten? What do you do when the barbecue is over?
Leftovers can be tricky - flavors change in the refrigerator, meat dries out, and sometimes it just seems easier to throw all that extra food into the garbage can.
We’re here to help reduce your waste (and keep money in your wallet). With this recipe for one of our favorite leftover-busting meals Smoky Pork Gumbo, you can serve delicious dinners back to back. Barbecue one night, gumbo the next, and those unappetizing leftovers in the fridge are a distant memory.
What You Need For This Gumbo Recipe
- 1lb leftover smoked pork shoulder You could absolutely use regular pork shoulder here, but that smoky flavor really brings the gumbo together and levels this recipe up.
- ¾ cup white rice, uncooked Do not use minute rice in this recipe! Minute rice will suck up all the liquid in your gumbo and create a gloppy consistency in the final product. If you’re interested in using brown rice, know that we don’t recommend it for this gumbo. For those who are dead set on it, add ¼ cup more water, and expect about 15 minutes longer cooking time on the rice step. This will have an effect on the veggies, making them softer, possibly even mushy.
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil If you’re watching your saturated fats, olive or canola oil will work here as well. Do not use coconut or peanut oil. Their flavors are not neutral, and they leave a strong taste if used.
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 green pepper, chopped
- 2 sticks celery, chopped
- 1 bulb fennel, trimmed and chopped
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
- 1 red chili chopped
- 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
- 1 8.75 oz can sweet corn
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- Large dutch oven. This is a family-sized recipe, so you’ll need at least a 5 qt dutch oven.
- Wooden spoon or spatula
Step 1: Pulling
If your pork is still in shoulder form, you’ll want to cut it into smaller pieces. These should still be fairly large -- think about the size of a fist -- but the smaller size will make the pork a little easier to work with.
There are many ways to shred the pork at this point, but our favorite is simply to insert two forks into the meat and pull in opposite directions. This will give you a long, thin shred which is ideal for gumbo, and it keeps the juices of the meat intact so it doesn’t dry out.
Once your pork is pulled, you’ll want to cover it or place it back in a container so that it doesn’t dry out while you prep the rest of the recipe.
Step 2: The Roux
Roux, or a sauce base, is made from a oil and flour. To make the roux, put your dutch oven on the stove top on low heat. Pour in the oil. A pro-tip when making sauce bases is to not let your oil get too hot. You don’t want it to splatter when you flick water at it, but you do want it to be warm.
Once the oil has reached that perfect temperature, add the flour, stirring to avoid lumps. This is where the whisk comes in handy.
When you have a non-lumpy roux to work with, allow it to simmer at a low heat (called “cooking it out”) for around 5 minutes. This keeps you from getting a raw flour taste in your sauce. You can tell it’s done when it starts turning golden brown. Remove it from the heat at this point so that it doesn’t burn.
Step 3: The Veggies
Your golden brown roux is ready for the veggies. Add the chopped onion, green pepper, celery, fennel, garlic, and chili. Put them back on the low heat, and allow them to cook for another 5 minutes, or until they start to feel soft. Remember to stir them often so they don’t burn and stick to the dutch oven bottom!
Step 4: Tomatoes, Stock, Thyme and Bay Leaf
Add your tomatoes, vegetable stock, thyme, and bay leaf to your softened veggies. Mix everything together, then allow the gumbo to simmer for around 30 minutes on low heat. Leave the gumbo uncovered while it simmers, or you’ll end up with a watery mess at the end!
Step 5: Rice
We’re going to add rice to suck up the last of the liquid and give us that gumbo texture. Add your uncooked white rice to the dutch oven and stir until everything is well mixed together. Then you get to step away again for about 15-20 minutes while the rice cooks. It’s done when it feels tender but not mushy. Your gumbo should be taking on a pretty thick consistency at this point.
Step 6: Pork and Corn
For your last step, drain the corn and add it and the pulled pork to the dutch oven. Warm the whole gumbo through, and then it’s ready to serve!
Does a warm bowl of delicious Smoky Pork Gumbo sound like it would hit the spot? Rice, veggies, and smoky-spicy flavor makes this one of the best comfort foods out there, and it has the added benefit of getting rid of those old barbecue leftovers in a way that’s utterly delicious. While there are many leftover options, our stamp of approval is on this one due to its simplicity, easiness, and general all-over goodness.
Do you have any tips? Ideas? Did you try the tutorial? Share your results and comments in the section below, and if you liked this recipe, share the love with your friends!
Frequently Asked Questions
How long is leftover pork good for?
As a basic guideline, cooked meat and poultry is good for three to four days in the refrigerator. Bacteria grows rapidly at the temperatures in between 40 and 140 degrees F (a range known as the Danger Zone), so be sure to cool the pork as quickly as possible if you’re storing it for leftovers. Always be sure to fully cool the pork before covering it, and it's always best to place it in an airtight container once cooled. When properly stored in the freezer, leftover pork can last for two to six months.
How do you reheat leftover pork?
It’s always best to reheat leftovers to 165 degrees F to kill any pathogens or bacteria that may be present in the cooked meat. For our gumbo recipe in this post, simmering the pork in the gumbo should be sufficient to heat it to the required temperature. For other leftover dishes, you can heat the pork in an aluminum foil pouch in the oven, or reheat it in the microwave in a microwave-safe dish.
Do you have to shred pulled pork before storing the leftovers?
If you’re cooking a whole pork shoulder and you have leftovers, you might consider shredding it before storing the excess. It’s much easier to shred a warm pork shoulder, as the fat will congeal as the shoulder cools. You could store the whole pork shoulder and shred it as you need it, but you will find the task much more difficult.
What are some ways to use leftover pulled pork?
Leftover pulled pork is one of the most versatile meats out there! You can add it to soups and stews (like the gumbo in this article), or you can use it to make nachos, quesadillas, or burritos. It can be used in breakfast dishes like fritatas or omelets, or you can use it to make sandwiches and tacos for lunch. You could even put it on a salad!
Can you eat pulled pork cold?
Technically, yes, you can eat pulled pork cold. Since it was fully cooked before you place it in the refrigerator, there should be no risk of consuming undercooked pork. However, time and temperature are not your friend when cooling cooked meats, and the pork could become contaminated if it’s not properly cooled. To be safe, we’d recommend reheating pulled pork to 165 degrees F before consuming it.