Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Don't pull hair, make Pulled Pork

Blame it on the Type A personality in me. You'd think I'd actually enjoy a couple of days of "working from home" and not doing anything. Instead, I'm anxious to get on a project and really prove myself and learn lots of new things. I spent the latter portion of last week really pulling my hair out from frustration, but this week I decided to embrace the opportunity and do a lot of cooking (and blogging!).

BBQ is good on its own. But the ex-Texan in me makes me love BBQ just that much more...and also sets the standards that much higher. So no, I'm not content just buying the ubiquitous plastic container of BBQ pulled pork from Trader Joe's (please TJ, don't take that personally).

I started with the recipe from Nook and Pantry that started this craving for pulled pork. Once the meat was seared, browned and covered in a little bit of sauce mixture, it just looked so lonely in the slow cooker. I'm by no means a slow cooker pro (although I'd like to get there, especially once work picks up), but can you cook food in there with little to no liquid? I got nervous about letting it cook with only a quarter cup of liquid and had nightmares of opening the pot six hours later to find something that would force me to call my local take out joint. What a perfect time to "be creative!" An extra cup of chicken broth and a can of Coca Cola went into the pot. (Texans tend to refer to soda's in general as "Coke" so when you ask for a Coke, you'll often find yourself being asked, "What kind?" Just thought we could use clarification here).

Six hours later (ok, I did cheat and opened the lid a couple times to check in between), I found my pork shoulder falling apart in the pot and smelling absolutely wonderful. Taste test time! It tasted even better than it smelled! Perhaps I could get used to staying at home...minus the cleaning and chores and if I could only find someone who wants to support someone that just wants to cook all the time.

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
4 lbs pork butt/shoulder (Boneless preferred probably, but I used bone in)
1 medium onion, roughly chopped (I like Vidalia)
2 T chili powder
1 T smoked paprika
2 t freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp cumin powder
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp salt
1/4 C brown sugar
4 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 1/4 C chicken stock
1 can of Coca Cola (Dr. Pepper might work equally as well)

Sear the pork shoulder in 1 T of oil on all sides. If you want this to cook faster, you could cut up the pork shoulder into several pieces and brown them as separate pieces. Transfer this to the slow cooker turned on high.

On the stove, turn the heat down to medium and add the onion to the residual oil in the skillet. Add the chili powder, smoked paprika, pepper, and cumin and cook in the oil to bloom the flavor of the spices, about 3 - 5 minutes. Then add the minced garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the cayenne pepper, brown sugar, worchestershire sauce, salt, and 1/4 C chicken stock. Bring to a boil and pour the skillet contents over the pork in the slow cooker. Add the extra cup of chicken stock and the can of Coca Cola.

Cook on high for 5-6 hours.

Once the pork is fork tender, transfer to a large plate or cutting board. Use your hands, tongs or 2 forks to pull the meat apart into strings.

Strain the remaining liquid into a clean bowl or directly into a sauce pan. Throw out the onions, etc. in the strainer. Reduce the sauce (you could also use some cornstarch/flour mixed with water to thicken it a bit if you want). Serve on a toasted bun or on a salad (like I had for lunch). Leftovers are just as good, if not better, than the first day.

Link love -
My starting point at Nook and Pantry
Pulled Pork at Thursday Night Smackdown
Salsa Verdes Carnitas at Simply Recipes

1 comment:

JDM said...

This is an excellent recipe for pulled pork. We really enjoyed it! As Texans living in Canada, we are always excited to find recipes that make us feel like we're in the south again.

I came across your recipe via Google; thanks for sharing.