Italian Pulled Pork

italian pulled pork
Photo: Linda Pugliese
Prep Time:
45 mins
Total Time:
6 hrs
10 to 12 Serves

No barbecue sauce here! The pork is rubbed with a flavorful Italian-inspired paste made with toasted fennel, fresh herbs, garlic, dried chile, and lemon zest.


  • 2 tablespoons fennel seeds

  • 1 boneless pork shoulder (7 pounds)

  • 2 cups packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

  • ½ cup fresh sage leaves

  • ¼ cup fresh rosemary leaves

  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves

  • 6 cloves garlic, smashed

  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

  • 1 small dried red chile pepper, crumbled

  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

  • 10 to 12 ciabatta rolls, for serving

  • 1 head fennel, quartered and thinly shaved, for serving


  1. Toast fennel seeds in a small skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 4 minutes.

  2. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Using a sharp knife, score fat (but not meat) on pork in a diamond pattern. Pulse herbs, garlic, and fennel seeds in a food processor until combined. Slowly add oil and continue pulsing until a thick paste forms. Stir in 2 tablespoons salt, 1 tablespoon pepper, chile pepper, and lemon zest; rub mixture all over pork.

  3. Place pork, fat-side up, in a roasting pan or a large Dutch oven; add 1 1/2 cups water. Cover and roast until meat is starting to become tender, about 3 hours. Remove lid and continue cooking until meat is fork-tender, 1 to 1 1/2 hours more. Carefully transfer pork to a large bowl, leaving juices in pan. When cool enough to handle, use two forks to shred meat into bite-size pieces, discarding any large pieces of fat. Transfer shredded pork back to pot and toss with juices. Serve on rolls with extra pan juices, topped with shaved fennel.

Cook's Notes

If you're making the pork ahead of time, store it whole in the pan juices for up to three days in an airtight container in the refrigerator, then rewarm and shred before serving. We used a Japanese Benriner mandoline to cut the paper-thin slices of fennel.

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