Hi everyone. I’ve missed you. I’ve been gone for a long time. A digital detox is what I’ve been on. Sometimes you have to step back in order to move forward. Right? But I’m back! And with my return I thought I’d share with you a very easy recipe for pulled pork made in a crock pot. Is there a better way for me to celebrate my return to blog-dom than with pork?? I think not!
A few necessary items about pork, to begin. I used a beautiful bone-in pork shoulder from a local farm. I like to eat meat from local farmers because it’s easier to find out about the way the animal was raised. I get really freaked out about factory-farmed meat, and importantly, I think meat from commercial factory farms tastes different (in a bad way). The only problem is that locally-sourced meat tends to be a lot more expensive than commercial meat. My solution is that I just eat less meat! Less meat, but better quality, more delicious meat. It’s a compromise I’ve made in my life despite my abiding love for all things pork. So. That’s that.
You’ll notice that, aside from the spice rub, this recipe has very few ingredients. Essentially, I’m a lazy cook and I gravitate towards recipes that don’t require a huge amount of prep work, especially on week nights. I call for 1 1/2 cups of “cola” in the recipe – I used China Cola because it doesn’t have high fructose corn syrup, which is another food-like product that I just don’t fancy. (Do I sound neurotic?) In some places, you can get the big-named sodas with sugar, although you’ll probably have to look hard. The same principle holds true for the barbecue sauce. You can make your own (I like the looks of this recipe) or find good quality, high-fructose corn syrup-free (it’s in everything, seriously) sauce, which is what I did. I usually doctor commercial sauce with extra vinegar because I like a combination of ketchup-based sauce and vinegar-based sauce. A sweet-and-sour approach, if you will. (There are so many schools of barbecue out there – all of them delicious….I don’t want to start any wars here. I think of myself as embracing a pan-barbecue outlook, having lived or spent time in many top-notch barbecue states, such as Texas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Kansas, and North Carolina.) You can also vary the spice rub to your liking – I think fennel and sage would be nice additions.
If you don’t have a crock pot, you can put the pork in a low oven (300°F or so) for 4-5 hours (or more, depending on how big your pork shoulder is). Check the meat after 4 hours – if it’s falls apart easily, it’s ready.
(Serves 6-8 as sandwiches; slightly less as a platter)
For the Spice Rub:
1/4 cup kosher salt
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon maple sugar (or substitute additional brown sugar)
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the Pork:
One 2 1/2 to 3 lb. bone in pork shoulder
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
One 12 oz. bottle cola (1 1/2 cups)
1 cup barbecue sauce (plus extra vinegar to taste, if necessary)
Special Equipment: a crock-pot that can accommodate the meat
For the Spice Rub:
- Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.
- Place pork in a glass or ceramic baking dish.
- Rub half of the mixture all over the pork, covering all sides evenly. (You’ll have leftover rub mix. Just cover tightly – it will save indefinitely.)
- Cover the pork and refrigerate for 3 hours or longer, preferably overnight.
For the Pulled Pork:
- Layer the onion slices on the bottom of the crock pot.
- Place the pork on top of the onion slices.
- Pour in the cola.
- Cover the crock pot. Set the crock pot to “high” and let cook for 4 to 5 hours, or until the meat is falling apart. (Start checking the meat after 4 hours. It should start releasing a lot of liquid fat after a couple of hours.)
- Once the meat is done, remove it from the crock pot and let cool slightly. Pour off accumulated fat, onions, and liquid and discard. Give the crock pot a quick wipe with paper towels.
- Once the meat is cool enough to handle, shred into “pulled” pieces using your fingers or a fork, discarding bone and gristle as you go.
- Return meat to cleaned crock pot. Add the barbecue sauce and optional vinegar, to taste. (Chile flakes would also be nice if you like it spicy.) Set the crock pot to warm.
- When meat has re-heated, serve on buns or as a platter with collard greens, biscuits, or cornbread.
Notes: This recipe is easily doubled or even tripled – if you have a big enough crock pot!