I’ve shared some recipes on this blog before, but I thought I’d go with a full-blown food blog here. I have been making slow cooker pulled pork for a few years. I use lean pork, and add a little bit of brown sugar, but really it is a pretty healthy meal. I started this with two two-pound pork loin roasts because they were on sale at my butcher. Four pounds of pork is a lot, but the result is great for leftovers. This meal fed three adults, four kids, and there were leftovers for four more adult lunches.
The ingredient list is pretty simple:
4 pounds pork loin
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup ketchup
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
Spice Rub (I used my own mix that is roughly equal parts onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder, and kosher salt, with smaller doses of ground black pepper, cinnamon, paprika, and a touch of cayenne. I would have used more cayenne, but knew I was feeding kids).
1 medium yellow onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic.
2 tablespoons of liquid smoke (optional)
2 tablespoons of tomato paste (I used up my tube. This amount is not that important. If you want to use a whole little can, that will be fine)
Canola or olive oil (enough to saute onion)
Kosher salt and crushed black pepper.
I started by turning on the slow cooker. I’m not sure where, but a long time ago I read you should put hot things into a hot slow cooker and add cold things into cold slow cooker.
Mince the onion, and add the minced garlic. I use only fresh garlic for sauces and gravies, but for things like this, the little jar of minced garlic is a great addition to the refrigerator. The onions and garlic were then sauteed in a skillet. I let them get pretty translucent before shifting them into the warmed-up slow cooker.
Then I turned up the heat of the frying pan and rubbed the pork pretty generously with the spice rub. I made my own spice rub and keep it in a little plastic container, but there are tons of marketed spice rubs on the market. Most of them are mixtures of garlic, onion, and chili powder.
Once the pan was pretty hot, I added the loin to the pan. Brown the meat on all sides. Let it get brown, not gray. To do this the pan needs to be pretty hot. That carmelized meat will add texture and flavor to the pulled pork.
I did not scrape every last piece of onion out of the skillet, and that’s okay. They will get cooked a lot more in this process. After the meat was browned, I transferred it to the slow cooker. Lower the heat on the skillet, and add the apple cider vinegar. Deglaze the pan, scraping any bits off it is you stir. Then add the liquid to the slow cooker. Dump in the brown sugar, the liquid smoke, ketchup, and tomato paste. Give it a rough mixing, and set the slow cooker to low, 6 or 8 hours. The liquid should cover about half of the meat at this point.
After about two hours, turn the meat over so the dry side is in the liquid.
About half an hour before serving, shred the meat. I used my tongs. I jabbed the big piece with the closed tongs, then opened the tongs. You can do this to the big pieces, and use forks for smaller pieces. If the meat has been cooking for almost 6 hours, this should not be difficult. I’ve also been told you can shred the meat by putting it in a mix-master with the bread hook.
Let the shredded stuff cook for a little while longer. You can serve it alongside your favorite jar of barbecue sauce, or eat as is. I also recommend some hot giardineira peppers or spicy pepperoncini peppers.