Is it just me or is pulled pork everywhere these days? And it came on quite suddenly. Someone somewhere said, “let’s make pulled pork a thing,” and so it was. But have you ever tasted the perfect pulled pork?
A good pulled pork sandwich should specifically be a few things:
- Enormous! You should need to really stretch those jaw muscles to get your mouth wrapped around it.
- Juicy. It should be oozing juicy, bbq saucy pork goodness over your fingers and down your arm from the very first bite.
- BBQ-y. Even if it’s not on cooked on the bbq, it should taste like it is.
- Southern. I’m from the Canadian north, have never been to the southern states where they make what I’m sure is delicious southern food, and don’t profess to know what that tastes like. But I’m fairly certain pulled pork should taste like it.
After some research and some kitchen testing, I created what I think is a pretty damn good pulled pork recipe. And with only a little hesitation, I’ve decided to share it with you. Lucky you.
Pulled Pork Goodness
Combine in your slow cooker (measurements depend on the size of your crock pot):
- 1 large pork butt (it’s the shoulder, but it’s called a butt. Don’t ask me.) Poke a dozen or so cloves into the meat first.
- 1 medium white onion, chopped in large pieces
- 2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 tbsp. coriander, ground with your mortar & pestle
- 1 tbsp. fennel
- 1 tbsp. cumin
- A few dashes of liquid smoke (3-4 tbsp. or so. Excuse me, I’m not much one for measuring).
- Several dashes of worcestershire sauce
- 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
- 4 bay leaves
- Red pepper flakes, if you like it spicy
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 can tomato paste
- 2-4 oz. whiskey or bourbon
- Fill to a couple inches from the top with water
Slow cook on low for 10 hours. (I usually do this overnight, but be prepared for insane dreams, brought on by the permeating smell of pork wafting down the hall, into your room, onto the bed and into your nostrils. You will also continually wake up incredibly thirsty, likely due to the dreamy meat-sweats. Also note that I once cooked it for only 8 hours and the meat did not fall off the bones like it should at the end, so 10 is highly recommended.)
Remove meat to a large cutting board (juice will spill over the edges, so be prepared) and strain the remaining juice from the crock pot into a bowl. Discard what’s in the strainer and any bone or fatty bits you don’t want. Let cool for an hour or so.
Pull the pork. This is the most time consuming part. I usually put my laptop on the table and watch a movie while I’m doing this. I’m a tad picky though and all the fatty bits go into a discard bowl. It’s quite simple to scrape the fat off with a butter knife and the rest of the fleshy meat bits can be ripped apart with your fingers and put back into the slow cooker.
Once done pulling it all apart and it’s back in the pot, add a couple cups of the left over juice and as much bbq sauce as you want (1/2 to a full bottle). Mix it up and set the slow cooker to high for another 1-2 hours. Feel free to test for quality control at this point. Then try to stop.
That’s it! I usually serve with giant buns, chopped up cabbage, mayonnaise and cheese and then chow down.
As this makes a lot(!), I usually make pulled pork carnitas for dinner the next night. These are small tacos and go something like this:
- Take a small round soft tortilla shell and heat it in the microwave for 15 seconds.
- Add cabbage, a heap of pulled pork, avocado, homemade salsa (recipe to follow in coming days) and cilantro. Other toppings could include black beans or corn. Either way – delicious!
Enjoy! If you try this at home, please do let me know what you think!