Wednesday, August 31, 2011

"Yankee" Slow-Cooker Pulled Pork

My dad is the king of pulled pork sandwiches.  He's from Memphis, so it makes sense that he would be.  He has a very authentic way of preparing them.  He hickory-smokes the pork shoulder for hours and hours.  And hours.  He makes cole slaw.  He serves the sandwiches on buns with spicy Memphis barbeque sauce, and the cole slaw right on top - not optional.  While I would love to be able to make these sandwiches, since just thinking about them makes me mouth start to water, I don't have a smoker, or my dad's eternal patience to keep adjusting the coals and checking the pork to make sure it's at the right temperature.  So I settle for another preparation of a pork shoulder, which does the trick in a pinch: the slow cooker.

Dad would call this Yankee pulled pork.  It is.  It doesn't come with cole slaw, and it's doused in a thick, sweet sauce.  It's not authentic at all.  But it still tastes freaking amazing.  Because it's still PORK.


"Yankee" Slow-Cooker Pulled Pork

1 3- to 4-pound bone-in pork shoulder

1 12-oz. can Dr. Pepper
1 onion, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1/3 cup bourbon
1/2 can chipotle peppers in adobo (or chipotle salsa, if you didn't read the label)

Spice Rub:
5 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons black pepper
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon chili powder
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon dried thyme

Coat the outside of the pork shoulder with the spice rub, really rubbing it into the meat.  Place it in a dish or ziploc bag, and refrigerate it for 2-3 hours or overnight.  Heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet, and brown the meat on all sides.  Place onions and garlic in a layer in the bottom of the slow cooker.  When the pork is browned, place it on top of the onions.  Pour Dr. Pepper, bourbon, and chipotles over the pork, place the lid on the slow cooker, and cook for 4-6 hours on high, or 8-10 on low. 

Remove meat to a plate, discard any bones, and use two forks to shred the meat.  Then strain some of the extra fat off of the liquid in the slow cooker.  You can do this a couple of ways.  If you have a lot of time, you can put the liquid in the fridge, and allow it to cool completely.  The fat will sit on top in an orangey-yellow layer, and you can just scrape it off and throw it away.  But if you just got home from work, and want to eat the pork as soon as possible, you can just use a big spoon to carefully skim the fat off the top.  

Once the extra fat is skimmed, adjust the seasonings in the sauce to taste.  I added some barbeque sauce, ketchup and apple cider vinegar, stirring and tasting until it was the way I like it.  Play with it until you get it right, and then add the shredded meat back in and keep it warm until you're ready to eat.  Pile it high on toasted buns, and top with pickles, onions, cole slaw... whatever makes you happy.

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