RECIPE: Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
When you’re having a crowd, a popular main course and fuss-free recipe is pulled pork.
Pulled pork is a method of cooking where a tough cut of meat is cooked slowly at low temperatures, allowing the meat to become tender enough so that it can be “pulled,” or easily broken into tender pieces.
This recipe uses a slow cooker, which in turn can be placed on a table for guests to help themselves. We made it over Labor Day Weekend (check out these pulled pork sliders, which also have a recipe for the cabbage slaw that goes so well with the pork) and are making it again this weekend, for holiday party fare.
You can provide burger buns or mini buns for those who want to fix themselves a sandwich; the cabbage slaw; and a big, green salad to counter the richness of the pork. We’re also making a whole-grain “dirty brown rice” with black beans and a garnish of green onions.
Thanks to Ryan Hughes and Zabars.com for this tasty recipe.
October 12th is National Pulled Pork Day.
Ingredients For 6-8 Servings
For the BBQ Pork Shoulder
1. PREPARE the dry rub: Combine kosher salt, fresh ground pepper and cayenne pepper. Coat the entire meat with this rub (you can’t over-coat the meat at this point). Set the meat aside.
2. PLACE the quartered onions and crushed garlic into the slow cooker. Add the meat. Slowly pour in the water until the meat is about 2/3 covered, avoid pouring it over the meat so you don’t remove the rub. Add the liquid smoke.
3. COOK on low for 9-10 hours.
4. REMOVE the meat from the slow cooker. It’s going to be falling-apart delicious. Use a slotted spoon to scoop out any meat that may have fallen off. If you’ve used a piece of meat with the bone in, remove the bone; it should just slip right out. Pull apart (or shred) the meat with two forks. This will also be very easy and the meat will be very tender.
5. ADD the barbecue sauce to the meat now or serve it on the side, allowing each person add sauce to his or her sauce as desired.
6. TO SERVE: If you’re serving from the clock, first clean the slow cooker, discarding the liquid and onions. Return the meat to the slow cooker, set to keep warm. It’s best to add some barbecue sauce if you’re serving it this way, to help keep the meat from drying out.
Alternatively, you can place the shredded meat on the hamburger buns and serve them on a platter, with the barbecue sauce and slaw on the side.
Baked beans and fries are other popular sides.
Check out all of these recipes.
Pulled pork is a type of barbecue made from a pork shoulder, that is slowly smoked to retain moisture and deliver delicious tenderness.
The idea of smoking pork came from Native Americans.
The process of smoking pork developed in America, when Spanish settlers observed Native Americans smoking their game over a wood fire—the earliest American version of barbecue.
In fact, our word “barbecue” comes from barbacoa, the Spanish adaptation of the word barabicu, from the Taino people of Guyana.
It means “framework of sticks,” and refers to a raised wooden structure used to either sleep on or cure meat.
(The Spanish learned the words when they landed in the Caribbean.)
Barbacoa referred to a rack made of wood on which meat is roasted over flames from wood or charcoal. While drying meat is the oldest method of preserving it (e.g., jerky), a smoky fire kept the insects at bay, which further helped in the preservation of the meat.
With the migration of enslaved Africans and Europeans to the American South, cooking pigs in this way became increasingly popular.
It was low-cost and easy to do.
Here’s one source on the origin of the term, “pulled pork.”
Prior to the Civil War, plantation owners would host large barbecues. The cheap, tough cuts would be given away to their slaves, who learned to slow cook these cuts slowly over coals.
By the time the slow cooking was finished, the slaves were typically so hungry that they would pull the pork off when the meat was done and could easily be pulled off of the roast [source].
Barbecue and pulled pork, slow-smoked over wood, became traditions in the American South. A dry rub is first added to the pork.
The process can take more than 12 hours, although indoor cooking with a pressure cookers can be just 60 to 90 minutes.
With pulled pork, the pork shoulder is typically used. It’s an inexpensive cut, and the pork can be easily shredded manually with a fork. Conventional barbecue sauce is typically served pulled pork.
While pulled pork sandwiches are the most popular preparation, pulled pork has found its way into burritos and tacos, on top of green salads and pizza, and much more.