Friday, August 8, 2014

Your Slow-Cook BBQ Pulled Pork Recipes Suck- Well, most of them anyway

I grew up in a family that rarely served pork, with the exception of weekend bacon and the occasional breakfast sausage link from the diner-like restaurant my grandparents would take us, the "Gingham House" on Castor Avenue, now the location of a Brazilian steakhouse and luncheonette.  Occasionally, our mother would make baby back ribs with a homemade, ketchup-based barbecue sauce, but that was the full extent of my pork experience.

In the past couple years, I've delved into the realm of the "other white meat". And lately, BBQ pulled pork has crossed both my palate as well as my kitchen.  I've tried making it now about half-a-dozen times, as well as slow-roasted other pork cuts, like tenderloin, for years. Finally, I found a recipe that works. I promise, that if you listen to me, your pulled pork will be stellar.

Every time I made it, I used different pork roasts, but the one that works best is a bone-in pork shoulder. Also, forget the need for alcohol like hard ciders, ales, or stouts.  If we're really roasting, the meat doesn't need to sit in any additional liquid, other than its natural juices and steam that that comes from a new tip I find is key to slow cooking.

For last night's dinner, I used two 3-4lb bone-in pork shoulders. If you were making a beef roast, you would brown the meat, but in this case, it's not necessary at all.

     -First, prepare a dry mixture of 1/2 to 1 C of light brown sugar and combine
      with 1 T each of paprika and chili powder, 1 tsp each of garlic and onion powders,
      1/2 tsp of mustard powder, and 1/2 tsp of black pepper.
      Mix with spoon until well blended.

     -Trim away excess fat and cut off skin from pork shoulder, if still intact.

     -We have an old slow cooker, so now is when I like to turn it on and preheat to
       about 300 degrees.

     -Grab that meat and start rubbing, using your extremely clean hands to rub the
      dry mixture into the meat, lightly covering all sides and little nooks.

     -Using Pyrex ramequins, or some other oven-safe containers that are small
       enough to fit inside your cooker, drop 4-5 drops of Liquid Smoke natural
       mesquite into each of the 2 ramequins and add enough water to nearly
       come to the top of the containers. This will add incredible flavor as the
       liquid steams.

     -Close your lid and walk away for 5-8 hours- you don't have to do a thing.
      If you're dying from anticipation as your house fills with amazing aromas,
      you can take a peek and even taste a little piece of the edge to see how it's
      coming along.

     -In a 1 qt saucepan, add 1/2 C of ketchup to just under 1/2 C of yellow mustard
      (I like to use Woeber's Sweet 'n Spicy), 1/4 C brown sugar, 2 T naturally
      fermented soy sauce (if you can't do fermented food items, you can omit
      the soy and just use water), and 1/2 tsp of black strap molasses. Stir gently
      over low heat until sugar and mustard are fully blended, with no lumps.
      Remove from heat.

     (I chose not to make a lot of BBQ sauce because the meat is already quite
      sweet and packs a lot of flavor, it will also be exceptionally tender. This
      is simply my preference, so if you're really into loading your meat with sauce,
      by all means, don't let me stop you. Just give it a try first before deciding.)

     -Since my slow-cooker pan has a ceramic coating, I like to take the meat
      out and place in a large, Pyrex casserole dish (depending on how much meat
      you are preparing, you can use something as small as a loaf pan for one,
      small shoulder).

     -Using two forks, begin pulling them in opposite directions to shred the pork,
      taking care to remove any large, unsavory pieces of fat or tissue. Remove bone
      and discard. Your pork will come apart easily and with little effort.

     -Drizzle 1/3 to 1/2 the BBQ sauce over the pork, stirring and fluffing the pork with
      a fork. Some people suggest putting the pork in the oven at this point to
      create a crispy finish, but there is no need to potentially dry out your meat.
      Serve hot.

     - Use remaining BBQ sauce for individual plates.

VoilĂ ! The best pulled pork you've ever had in your life. If you try this recipe, let me know how it worked for you and whether you stuck to this recipe or deviated and added your own, culinary genius.

As an endnote, what prompted me to post my recipe was a friend who posted this recipe on her Facebook page that called for using dry soup mix and cola. It was out of the sheer need to save all of you, like an evangelical who is willing to egotistically force you toward saving your souls, I did it all for you.