Sunday, December 21, 2014

slow cooker roasted pork shoulder

Hallelujah.  Pulled pork in the slow cooker.

I know it's not smoked, and there are no cracklins to be had, so I don't claim any Southern miracle, but this basic pork recipe makes a phenomenally easy BBQ plate, taco filling, sandwich stuffer, thai rice bowl feature.  And it is so good. 

There are really three ingredients.  Plus water.  I am serious.

The challenge is to find a good-quality, preferably pasture-raised pork butt that's big enough for everyone to have seconds, thirds, and fourths when you make it.

Every couple of weeks, I notice that Whole Foods offers generously sized, bone-in pork shoulders (also known as a Boston butt).  That's exactly what you are looking for.  If you find it, buy it, and make this.  It's a cheap cut of meat so go big!  Whatever will fit in your slow cooker, which waits patiently for you at home.  I strive for 4-5 pounds, which makes plenty for four with leftovers.

Kevin says he could eat this pork every single night.  We end up eating it about once every couple of weeks because, hooray, I found pork shoulder at the grocery store after yoga.  (I have more time in my schedule these days, which allows for more exercise and less harried shopping, so I'm now that girl I used to hate at Whole Foods in yoga pants.)

And don't be shy about making it your own:  This basic pork can be transformed with some chipotles into a delicious taco filling, a thai rice bowl with veggies and green curry sauce, or an Eastern North Carolina-style sandwich with a white bun and coleslaw.   (You could even go Italian style and serve it alongside potato gnocchi.)

However you sauce it, please enjoy this very special, very easy, almost-Southern classic.  The recipe follows.

Slow Cooker Roasted Pork Shoulder

4-5 lb pork butt (preferably bone-in and local, pastured pork)
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
½ cup apple cider vinegar
½ cup water
salt and pepper

Season the pork liberally with salt, black pepper, and crushed red pepper and place it in your slow cooker.  Add vinegar and water.  Cook on low for 10 hours.

When ready to serve, remove from the crock pot and cut off extra fat and remove the bone.  In a large bowl, shred the pork with two forks.  It should fall apart easily.  Discard the cooking liquid.  Add your favorite sauce (BBQ or otherwise) to taste.  If you're serving a crowd, return the sauced meat to the slow cooker to keep warm if needed.

My favorite BBQ sauce happens to be Eastern North Carolina-style and vinegar based.  Make your own the night before and you’ll be in good shape for a quick meal.

Vinegar-based BBQ Sauce
Adapted from the legendary Sara Foster

2 cups apple cider vinegar
½ cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons crushed red pepper
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon black pepper

Combine ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.  Simmer for about 20 minutes until sauce is reduced and darker in color.  If it’s too sour, add a little water.  If it’s too sweet, add a little vinegar.

Store sauce in the fridge until ready to use, or up to 2 weeks.

1 comment:

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