But there are many simple ways to feed 30, 40 or even 50+ people, and one of them is to serve pulled pork. Don't let the fact that you are not a barbecue pit master stop you from attempting this dish; although it takes a long time to cook, the preparation is very simple and you just need a few tips to achieve pit master-level results.
The first and most critical step is selecting the meat. Costco sells a pork shoulder (photo below) that works really well. Another good cut is often called a "Boston butt" or "pork butt" (names vary regionally). Ask your butcher which cut you should use - butchers are a great resource for this type of question. You should plan about 3/4# per person for sandwiches and as much as one pound per person if you are serving the pork on it's own. This sounds like a lot, but it loses up to 25% of its weight as it cooks. Of course, you can reduce these amounts if there are many other dishes being served.
First thing in the morning, get the pork out of the refrigerator and bring it to room temperature on your counter (this is perfectly safe unless you have a counter-surfing dog in your home). After an hour, preheat your oven to 275 degrees and put the pork in, fattier side up. Depending on the size, it will take several hours to cook - allow a solid 6 hours. This is a very forgiving meat; it needs to reach 200 degrees but if you cook it a bit longer, it will still taste great. Use a meat thermometer to confirm that the meat has reached 200 degrees.
A note about slow cookers (crockpots). There are many good crockpot recipes for pulled pork, and if your oven is otherwise occupied, a crockpot will do the job. The problem with a crockpot is that it's a moist cooking method, and your pork won't develop a crispy exterior if prepared this way. So crockpots are a good backup plan, but an oven is the preferred choice. A grill is a great choice (bonus - it frees up your oven and doesn't heat up the house), but only if you can truly control the heat.
Once the pork reaches 200 degrees, take it out of the oven and let it cool for 30 minutes or so. This is not necessary for the recipe, but will make it much less likely that you will burn yourself when you pull it. When the pork is done, it should smell fabulous and be crispy on the outside; the outside pieces are called the "bark".
When it's completely shredded, you can mix in barbecue sauce. I love Sweet Baby Rays, but a vinegary Carolina-style sauce is delicious too. Cover the meat with foil.
When it's time to eat, uncover your meat, put the buns and some extra sauce on the side and stand back; you don't want to be trampled in the crush of people trying to get to your pulled pork. Congratulations - you've just fed a crowd!
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