Search This Blog

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

You know me, I don't make meat all that often, so when I do I like to make it great.

Special, delicious, and a 'treat' to have (and to make!)

So this is no different.

Pulled Pork is actually remarkably simple to make.  The trick is to just make sure you use the right cut of meat, and that you give it the right amount of time to cook, and that you cook low and slow.

Other than those considerations, it's basically just: sear, roast, and then pull it apart.

One caveat here, technically pulled pork is only really authentically pulled pork if it is cooked low and slow and by itself in a BBQ smoker.  And that shit is amaze-balls.

But, there is a 'trashy' version which in fact should really be called braised pulled pork.

The Interwebs are replete with recipes and 'easy' and 'quick' tricks, and there you'll find some disgusting trashy suggestions such as using ketchup or barbeque sauce.  Ugh.

I mean, for it to be traditional pulled pork, it should be some sort of tomato- and red pepper-based sauce that is both tangy and a little sweet, which is a sort of BBQ sauce, but please don't use processed sauces or condiments people.  Please?

Anyway... down to it.

Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, ensure you select the proper cut of meat.  

A shoulder cut is typical for pulled pork.  I've also seen butt used.

You don't want a very fatty piece, but also not too lean either.  After all, slow cooking the fat is what makes the meat fall apart nicely when it's done.

Because I don't buy that much meat, I like to get good meat, so enter my favourite local butcher, Roast Fine Foods.

I can't say enough good things about this place.  I feel very lucky indeed to have it in my neighbourhood.  

Anyway, this shoulder was gorgeous.

I did need to do a little work to it, though.  Just a little, mind you.

For one thing, I was grossed out by the fact that some of the blood vessel tubules were visible, right on the outside, so I had to perform a bit of surgery on that.  

Cause it was gross.  


I'm sure it would have cooked down nicely and unnoticed, but I'm not so much of a meat fan that I felt comfortable leaving it there, so I cut it out.

And, secondly, the other side of the cut had some of the bone still attached in places. 

If you look in this photo there are a few large chunks of bone right in the centre of that large-ish chunk of fat in the middle.

It's good to 'rub' your meat by hand before you cook it, not the least of reasons is that you can literally feel for imperfections.  In this case, it was that I felt the bone chunks there.

Anyway, it was extremely minor to just excise a couple pieces, and then we were good to go!

I rubbed the whole cut with a tiny little bit of avocado oil and then a generous dash of sea salt and black pepper, and then let her rest on the counter for a little while, in a small roasting pan.

The hardest (most time-consuming) aspect of my pulled pork today, was the sauce.  And only because I insist on making all my sauces from scratch.

So, the first thing I did, actually, was to roast some veggies.

I don't like adding sugar, but this sauce needs to be a little sweet, so I figured if I roasted all the veggies, the caramelization that happens naturally should be enough to sweeten the whole sauce.

And it was.

Anyway, the sauce consisted of roasted red pepper, 

roasted tomatoes, 

local grocers have taken to labeling EVERY fruit and vegetable these days... <sigh>

roasted onion, 

roasted shallot, 

a fair bit of garlic, 

So pretty!

and then a dried spice blend, consisting of:

mustard seed, 


freshly grated nutmeg, 

and some sea salt.

Anyway, after everything got roasted, and then cooled, and the red peppers got skinned, I threw EVERYTHING into my food processor.

So that's the sauce.

When it was blended up all nicely, I put it into my slow cooker, ready to receive the pork.

Which just needs to be seared a little bit on all sides, and then is ready to join the sauce.

I don't like making my entire house smell of fried meat so I often use the broiler for searing.

It's also quite quick, which is nice... My gas oven does not take long to heat up to super-sear temps.

I flipped the pork to make sure all the sides got browned, but after only about 5 minutes under the broiler it was nice and golden.

So, into the slow cooker she goes!

For at least four hours. But no more than six, I'd say.

You have to cook it long enough for the connective tissues to break apart, but don't overcook it either.

Mine was about 4.5 hours.

At that point I just grabbed two forks and starting gnashing it apart.

It 'pulled' apart beautifully.

I like a lot of sauce for my pulled pork, partly because I intended to just sandwich the whole thing as-is.  Of course, you can use less sauce, or cook the pork in a runnier sauce and serve it separately, if you want...


But, why?

I mean, look at these photos and tell me you don't want to eat copious amounts of it:


Anyway, I bought some really nice white buns and served them open-faced, just on their own.

The sauce was actually quite sweet, from the roasted veggies, and the spice blend really made this sauce deliciously savoury.

So freaking good!  Perfect comfort food on a cold winter's night!