It may seem like a classic overshare, but I recently had a brief (but torrid) romance with a slow cooker that I bought online. Alas it really didn’t end well, but in the three and a half days we were together we did manage to make one great thing – pulled pork.
Ah, pulled pork, how we all love thee.
Arguably the reigning darling of the slow cooking movement, pulled pork is America’s Deep South’s gift to the culinary world. Traditionally slow-cooked and smoked for hours on a barbeque, pulled pork can in fact be cooked in a number of ways including in a slow cooker or even in a conventional oven. I’ve only ever made pulled pork in a slow cooker and its always turned out great, but no matter which method you favour the key word is always SLOW – there is simply no rushing pulled pork.
Although most commonly made with a shoulder of pork, recipes for pulled pork vary wildly from region to region and state to state. Many recipes use a dry rub before cooking, whilst some just use a ‘wet’ recipe where a BBQ sauce is simply slavered over the meat before it’s cooked. Personally I prefer the dry rub method as it most definitely adds more flavour and complexity to the final dish. I also like to leave the skin on the pork as it just offers that extra assurance that the meat won’t dry out – simply peel it off and throw away once the pork is done.
When it comes to the actual “pulling” of the pork many recipes suggest using a couple of forks, but I like to get in there and use my hands. It may be a whole lot messier, but doing it by hand gives you more control over the texture of the pork and it makes it easier to identify any fat or gristle that you may want to remove.
Unsurprisingly, when it comes to serving pulled pork I’m a bit of a traditionalist – it can be served with any type of white bread (any burger bun, bap, pita or pretzel will do), but it should always come with a generous heap of coleslaw on the side (I’m obsessed with Asian Coleslaw at the moment) as well as some extra BBQ sauce.
Note: pulled pork freezes brilliantly
Southern-style Pulled Pork: Serve 6 to 8
- 1.5kg bone-in pork shoulder, skin on
- 2 onions, thickly sliced
- 1 cup BBQ sauce (I use my homemade BBQ sauce, but store brought is fine too)
- 1/2 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
For the dry rub:
- 4 tbsp. paprika (2 tbsp. hot smoked paprika if available)
- 1 tbsp. onion powder
- 1 tbsp. garlic powder
- 1 tbsp. ground cumin
- 1 tsp. salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- In a bowl combine all the dry rub ingredients. Rub the mixture all over the pork and wrap tightly with plastic kitchen wrap. Refrigerate overnight
- Place the sliced onions at the bottom of a slow cooker. Place the pork on top of the onions, skin-side up. In a bowl combine the BBQ sauce, apple cider vinegar, stock and sugar. Pour the sauce over the pork. Cover and cook for 9 to 10 hours on LOW or for 5 to 6 hours on HIGH. You’ll know the pork is done when the meat offers little or no resistance when poked with a fork
- Remove the pork from the slow cooker and lightly cover it with tinfoil. Decant the cooking liquid into a bowl (reserve the onions) and leave until the oil rises to the top. Spoon off as much of the oil as possible – if you have a gravy separator, use it. Pour the sauce into a saucepan and add the cooked onions. Use a hand processer to blend the sauce and onions until smooth. Check for seasoning and heat the sauce through – it should be nice and thick
- Once the meat is cool enough to handle remove the skin and any excess fat. Shred the meat with your hands or with two forks, discarding any bones, fat or gristle
- Pour over the sauce and mix to combine