While properly smoked pulled pork already has tons of flavor on its own, a finishing sauce can help to further enhance flavor and compliment the fattiness, saltiness, and the smokiness of the meat.
At a super basic level, a finishing sauce for pulled pork is as simple as two ingredients:
You get a little bit of tang from the vinegar and a little bit of heat from the hot sauce. You can certainly get creative with your finishing sauce but really most recipes will boil down to those two ingredients.
With that said, there are also a few different types of finishing sauces you'll find.
The type of finishing sauce you use will depend on where you're from and what YOU prefer.
My preference swings towards vinegar-based sauces. However, I do love mustard-based finishing sauces too.
Remember, a finishing sauce is any sauce that's applied to meat after it's been cooked.
Just to quickly break these down:
If you're interested in a Mustard-based finishing sauce, be sure to check out my recipe for Carolina Honey Gold (pictured below)
What I like to do is add ingredients from my pork butt dry rub and include those in small quantities just for an added pop of flavor.
This further builds off the flavors of my bark and the vinegar and heat help to cut through the rendered fat and salt.
The ingredients are as follows:
Rather than simply using hot sauce, I like to go the route of hot chiles and freshly cracked peppercorns. These combined with the vinegar tend to pair really well.
If you don't have either, use whatever vinegar-based hot sauce you have and use about 1/4 cup in the recipe above. I typically have Frank's Red Hot in my refrigerator and it's distilled vinegar-based.
Making this finishing sauce is fairly straight forward, you will need:
Combine the above ingredients in the specified quantities in a medium saucepan.
Place on your stovetop at low/medium heat. Your goal is to slowly incorporate the ingredients and to dissolve the turbinado sugar.
Bring the mixture to a simmer and simmer for 5 minutes.
Once everything is incorporated, allow to cool and transfer to a squeeze bottle or air tight container (like a mason jar).
This mixture can then be refrigerated for up to 1 week.
Note: Before using, shake the bottle. The solids, like the cracked peppercorns and red jalapeno flakes, will settle to the bottom.