The holiday has come and gone, and hopefully you had a great celebration of the Fourth with your friends and family! It was a weekend of food and fun, including a birthday party, Netflix night and a bbq house party. Most of us have similar dishes to rejoice in America’s birthday–grilled chicken, steak or ribs, burgers, hot dogs and brats, and of course, all the side dishes to complete the meal. This time around, one of the dishes on deck was a batch of pulled pork straight from the slow cooker. It is a dish that takes a few hours to prepare, but luckily, a handy kitchen appliance does all of the work.
Pulled pork is appropriately named thanks to the fact that it’s extremely tender once done. Pork butt is a tough cut of meat–it is the pig’s shoulder–that requires a “low and slow” cooking method. If you have ever braised a cut of meat, then you have done the “low and slow” thing. You could set your oven somewhere between 275-325 degrees, and let the pork cook for three or four hours. That would require you to keep an eye on the oven, if you will. With a slow cooker, toss the meat in, set the temperature to low, and move on with our life. I seared the meat earlier in the day, went out for an evening of festivities, then returned at 3am to start the slow cooker. By mid-morning the next day, dinner was done.
The sauce for this pulled pork is a major cheat. The foundation starts with a bottled bbq sauce, then a few ingredients go into the pot for more flavor. The final sauce is sweet and tangy, but you could make yours spicy, smokey, fruity or a combination of those elements. Once the pulled pork is done, serve it on soft buns with cole slaw for a classic Southern sandwich. If you have leftovers, make pizza, a breakfast hash, nachos, quesadillas or tacos. If you’re a fan of pork, you can probably think of a million ways to use the leftovers. Pulled pork is perfect any time of the year, not just the holiday.
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1½ tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon dried oregano leaves
- 2½ pounds boneless pork butt, cut into large chunks
- ¼ cup grapeseed oil
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 1 cup prepared bbq sauce
- ⅔ cup molasses
- ½ cup ketchup
- ⅓ cup apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup worcestershire sauce
- 3 ounces tomato paste
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- 1 bay leaf
- In a small bowl, stir together the paprika, brown sugar, salt, pepper and oregano, then rub the spice mix over the meat. Cover with plastic wrap, and set aside for about 30 minutes.
- In a large skillet, heat the grapeseed oil over medium high flame. Once hot, add 3-4 pieces of meat to the pan, and sear for about 2-3 minutes per side until browned. Once browned,set the seared meat pieces on a plate. Repeat with remaining meat.
- Slide all of the seared pork into the slow cooker, and set aside.
- While the meat sits, prepare the sauce. In a medium pot, whisk the prepared sauce, molasses, ketchup, apple cider vinegar, worcestershire, tomato paste, cumin and bay leaf. Cook over medium flame until smooth and thickened, approximately 20 minutes.
- Take about 1 cup of the final sauce and pour it over the seared pork, along with the vegetable broth. Mix to incorporate, then cover, and set the slow cooker to low (8-10 hours). When done, use a couple of forks to shred the meat, then serve with the remaining sauce.