Monday, January 25, 2010

Indoor Pulled Pork

I believe this is a first on The Messy Apron. I’m going to write about having cooked a large piece of meat. There have been a few stir fries with chicken or with beef, some ground pork here, and a hoisin marinade for various proteins here. Of course I also sprinkle in some flavorful bacon now and then, but a big piece of animal protein as the center of the meal just doesn’t happen particularly often around here.

But it’s coming to the end of the professional football season and I had yet to make a barbecue-flavored shredded meat. I say barbecue-flavored because I have neither the equipment nor, frankly, the know-how to make real barbecue, especially in Minnesota in January. I can still, however, make a flavorful pulled pork, the kind that will fall into tender, savory bites if you just stare at it hard enough, as long as I allow my slow cooker to do all the work.

I made an adaptation of a recipe my mom used to make, often for big family parties like the one she put together when Harry and I were moving from northern Michigan to southern Texas. The meat was very popular, so when we missed our own going-away party because of problems with getting a rental truck for moving (I won’t go into it…you’ll just lose your appetite) it was the one dish that was entirely gone when we finally arrived.

This pulled pork is easy to put together. It requires time, but not your time. You can just dump everything into a slow cooker (aka a Crock Pot) and let it do its thing all day or overnight. The braising liquid is quite flavorful, but the finished product still has good pork flavor, in case you like that sort of thing. It isn’t spicy, but I suppose you could make it so with the addition of some chiles or hot sauce.

For me, most meat is really just a vehicle for spices and seasonings, or a flavorful sauce, so I like to mix this pork with a little more barbecue sauce and serve it on sandwich buns with a side of coleslaw, I suppose it would also be good eaten with a fork in one hand and a chunk of cornbread in the other. This recipe makes a lot, so you can feed a whole crowd of carnivores. Leftovers freeze well, however, so you could also keep a meat-lover or two happy for several days.

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Recipe
You can also make this with a beef chuck roast of similar size. Use beef broth in place of the chicken broth. If you do not have a slow cooker, this can be made in a covered roasting pan in the oven, but I have not done this, so am not sure about the temperature or time required.

1 cup (250ml) chopped celery
1 cup (250ml) chopped onion
5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 cup (250 ml) ketchup
1 cup (250 ml) barbecue sauce
2 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons (30 ml) cider vinegar
¼ cup (50 ml) brown sugar
2 tablespoons (30 ml) Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons (30ml) liquid smoke (optional)
1 teaspoon (5 ml) salt
1 4-5 pound (about 2 kg) boneless pork shoulder roast
additional barbecue sauce for serving, if desired

1. Place half of the measurement of each ingredient except the pork in a large slow cooker. Place the pork roast in the slow cooker and cover with the remaining ingredients.

2. Cover the cooker and cook on low heat for 8-10 hours, or until the meat can be pulled apart very easily.

3. Remove the meat from the cooker and place on a large platter. (Discard the cooking liquid.) Shred the meat with forks until it is all pulled apart. Serve on sandwich rolls and with additional barbecue sauce if desired.

Makes at least 10 generous servings. Leftovers can be frozen in a freezer-safe container or wrapping for a month or so.

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