Pulled pork sandwiches are the perfect complement to a summer cookout. They can also evoke the feeling of a summer cookout while eating on your patio during a Florida summer shower. Best of all, there's no need to turn on the oven or slave over a hot grill for this pulled pork, as it's done with a slow cooker. Plug it in, throw in your ingredients, set it and forget it.
This recipe for simple, Southern-style pulled pork does take some time if you want to achieve the perfectly seasoned and falling-apart pork shoulder. But we all know that good things come to those with patience.
Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
1-2 slices bacon
3 pounds of pork shoulder or 'Boston butt' roast
4 beef bouillion cubes (or sub gluten-free Not Beef Bouillon Cubes)
6 cups water
3 cloves garlic, crushes
1-2 tablespoons molasses
1/4 cup cider vinegar
Seasonings (a tablespoon or two of each, to taste):
Barbecue sauce (see below)
1. Start stock by adding the water, bouillon, and garlic to the slow cooker and setting it to low. This will allow the flavors to combine while you prepare your meat. Mix the spices in a small bowl; add more or less to your specific taste. You are going to use some of the spice mixture as a rub, and then will add the remaining to your stock.
2. Rub the spice mixture all over your pork, making sure to get every crevice. Wrap the pork tightly in plastic wrap and set in the fridge for at least two hours. After marinating, allow your pork about 30 minutes to come to room temperature. If you have time, allowing your meat to sit overnight, and then preparing your stock the following morning while your meat comes to room temperature is preferred.
3. Fry a strip of bacon in a large pan to render the fat. (This will just add more love to the pork.) Also, if you are a flavor saver like myself, you can use some of that bacon grease you have jarred in your fridge. Once the bacon fat is ready, unwrap the pork, add to the pan and sear on all sides. Searing will cause a "Maillard reaction" (a form of nonenzymatic browning similar to caramelization), which adds a wonderful flavor to your pork as well as creating those crispy end pieces everyone loves. Add the remaining spice mixture to the liquid in the slow cooker and then add the pork. The stock should completely cover the pork shoulder.
4. Cook the pork in the slow cooker for an hour on high heat, then turn the heat to low and cook for another four to five hours, or until it is falling apart (for a 3-pound shoulder).
5. Shred the pork with two forks, slap it in between two slices of bread and cover in sauce (see below). You can also serve the pork naked along side a bowl of your homemade barbecue sauce or top your sandwich with coleslaw for a Southern treat.
To make your own barbecue sauce:
Take the leftover stock and cool it in the fridge so that the fat separates. Skim the fat from the stock and carefully dump the top half of the sauce down the drain. You want the bottom half which has all the spices and pork bits in it. Pour the remaining stock and all it's goodness into a sauce pan. Add approximately a 1/4 cup each of ketchup and mustard, (I used a balsamic-honey mustard sauce that I found at Datz in Tampa) plus a few dashes of cider vinegar and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a boil then lower temperature to a simmer and allow the sauce to reduce by half. Season to taste (if needed) and serve.
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