When I make pulled pork, the seasoning stays on the outside. I know it's possible to get the seasoning to permeate the whole piece of meat, but I don't know how. I follow this recipe, but cook for one hour in an Instant Pot. Am I supposed to shred the meat before cooking it?

Obviously I could apply a sauce after cooking, but I would like to stick to the ingredients in the aforementioned recipe.

Edit: My real problem was that I thought that the drippings from the pork shoulder were a waste product, when in fact they are an essential part of the recipe. Thank you to everyone who helped me understand.

  • 11
    Are you doing the important third stage, cooking the shredded meat back in its sauce, after [2nd stage] reducing?
    – Tetsujin
    May 24, 2023 at 11:45
  • 7
    Am I supposed to shred the meat before cooking it No, it isn't shreddable until its cooked. May 24, 2023 at 19:51
  • You could add more seasoning after the main cooking; often spices taste different before heating, so it can add complexity. Eg. I often add garlic to the meat of a pasta sauce base while browning, and add more garlic after I add the tomato. The cooked and uncooked portions both contribute to the final taste (good).
    – dandavis
    May 25, 2023 at 19:48
  • If you don’t put the meat back into the liquid after you’ve shredded it, it can steam out and become rather dry. Even if you’re going to reduce the liquid into a sauce, I like to toss a few laddlefuls of liquid into the meat.
    – Joe
    Aug 8, 2023 at 18:03
  • Pay attention to whether the recipe specifies HOW MUCH of the drippings to add back to the meat. I had one where there was a good amount of sea salt in the rub, but I was thinking "if X of the drippings makes it better, then 2X drippings will be AWESOME." Nope, 2X made it excessively salty. Aug 11, 2023 at 17:55

1 Answer 1


The rub in this, and similar recipes, is a surface treatment. The same is true for marinades...all surface treatments. As is mentioned in the comment above, the finishing step in your recipe is to return the shredded pork to the sauce that is also part of the recipe. Steps=rub,cook,shred,sauce.

  • 1
    But after the pork cooks, it is swimming in around half a liter of water+fat+gelatin, which dilutes any sauce or seasonings to the point where they are useless. Am I supposed to have separate seasoning/sauce that does not cook with the pork?
    – Dan R.
    May 25, 2023 at 1:17
  • 4
    @DanR. “dilutes" seasonings? Do puréed tomatoes dilute the onion, garlic, salt, and basil in a tomato sauce? No they don’t. The water you can and maybe should at least partially boil off, which will concentrate the flavors. The fat and gelatin can thicken the final pulled pork and keep it moist. If it ends up like a semi-congealed mass at the end then you’ve got some legit pork there, whether that’s your goal or not. Some places serve pulled pork with an ice cream scoop. Note when I shred pork or chicken, I don’t even take it out of the pot or turn off the heat. It’s in the juices as I shred. May 25, 2023 at 1:37
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    @DanR. Also, as Tetsujin points out, the recipe you’re using says to both skim fat from the top of the sauce and also reduce the sauce. I consider skimming optional but probably a good idea for pork more than with chicken. Reduction is where the magic happens, though. May 25, 2023 at 1:40
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    The "half of liter of water+fat+gelatin" is the fond, and it's one of the most sought-after and prized liquids in kitchens for the preparation of the tastiest sauces. Some cook once quipped that he'd want three taps in his kitchen - hot water, cold water, and demi-glace, where "demi-glace" is pretty much the reduced version of what you described.
    – rumtscho
    May 25, 2023 at 8:42
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    @rumtscho actually, “fond” refers to the browned bits left in the pan after browning a protein and/or veg. The OP is cooking in a pressure cooker/Instapot. Sadly, the recipe does not call for a browning step. I would not be so sure that what is left is liquid gold…maybe good, but not exactly the beginning of a demi…
    – moscafj
    May 25, 2023 at 13:41

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