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Slow-Cooker Pulled Pork

2013 June 19
by Mrs. FoodieLawyer

Barbecue is a quintessential summer meal.  From pulled pork to brisket to ribs, cooking meat low and slow practically defines lazy summer days.  While unquestionably worth it, one doesn’t always have the time, inclination or equipment required for some of the more hard-core barbecue recipes (Kansas City-style ribs, for example, can take up to 20 hours to prepare — at least the recipe we used took that long.)  Enter the slow-cooker and this recipe.  The meat still takes a while to cook (6-8 hours), but needs less tending (just pat it down with the dry rub, place it in the slow-cooker with some onions, add the vinegar sauce, set the cooker on low and let it cook.)  Barbecue doesn’t get much easier, and although it won’t have the signature smoke ring and flavor from pulled pork cooked in a smoker, the tender and tangy end result belies the simple preparation and cooking method.  Perfect for a truly lazy summer day.

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Start by mixing up the ingredients for the dry rub:  brown sugar, paprika, salt and pepper.

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Then whisk together the ingredients for the vinegar sauce:  apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire, red pepper flakes, sugar, dry mustard, garlic salt and cayenne pepper.

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Peel the onion and cut into rings.  Don’t worry about being too precise with the size.  We found that the onions add a lot of flavor to the pork while it cooks — so much so that they don’t really taste like anything when the pork is done — so no need to make them too pretty or presentable.

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The original recipe calls for a boneless pork butt roast.  We ended up using a bone-in roast, cut in half.  (We cut it in half because we didn’t start cooking it early enough in the day for it to cook the recommended 10-12 hours, and we thought cutting it in half would help it cook a little faster.  We were right.)  Rub the pork on all sides with the dry spice rub.

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Place the onions in the bottom of the slow-cooker, lay the pork on top, then pour half of the vinegar sauce all over the pork and onions.  Set the cooker to low and let it cook for 8-10 hours, depending on the size of the pork roast (and how early of a start you get, or how late you’re willing to eat dinner.)  The original recipe recommends drizzling half of the vinegar sauce over the pork and onions to start, then drizzling the remaining portion when the pork is halfway done cooking.  Keep an eye on the meat and add sauce (or not) as needed to keep it moist as it cooks, without having it get too soupy.  Turns out that ours didn’t need any of the extra sauce.

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Being a blog writer, I’m also a blog reader.  But not just food blogs — all different kinds.  One of my favorites is a design/life/whatever-she-wants-to-write-about blog by the funny, irreverent (in a good way — she’s not afraid of the swear words, also in a good way), talented and entertaining Jenny from mfamb.com, which is where I came across this pulled pork recipe.  Jenny wisely recommended serving the pork with this recipe for Alabama white sauce, and she was right:  the sauce is “some seriously delicious sh*t,” made with mayo, white wine vinegar, garlic, spicy brown mustard, sugar, horseradish and salt & pepper.  It’s a spicy/creamy/tangy/tasty alternative to traditional red BBQ sauce and pairs very well with the pork.

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Use a couple of big forks to “pull” the pork into shredded pieces.  It should be the definition of “fork tender,” in that it shreds and pulls away from the bone with very little effort.  Are you sensing the theme here of “easy” and “lazy”?  My favorite kind of cooking, that just happens to also be really delicious.

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We served the pulled pork with the white sauce and hot & sour slaw for a simple, summery barbecue meal — no charcoal, wood chips, smoker or grill required.

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