For some reason, as soon as football season approaches, I’m ready for the barbecue type food. The idea of a pulled pork sandwich and some quality mac and cheese makes my tummy happy. Of course summer has finally arrived in Chicago (hello, September?), which means that it is hot outside, and I don’t have the patience to babysit pulled pork slowly cooking on the grill. And with school in session I’m for some reason more busy than ever, which means pulled pork in the crock pot is my friend for so many reasons.
Just a few minutes of work in the morning and then when I walk in the door at the end of the day and just breathe in the happy. The smells of a home cooked dinner, aromas that are driving my cats crazy but remind me that I had just a tiny bit of work to do to end up with a very contented tummy (and family). I love that this makes a lot of meat, so I can enjoy it for leftovers.
So have I posted a pulled pork recipe before? Yep. Am I posting another recipe for it? Yep. This time, I went a little less fast in the crock pot and a little more let’s rub on some flavor and sear that flavor into the meat. Oh, and use an entirely different (and cheaper!) cut of meat. I like both version, depending on my craving. This time? I wanted something more smoky and rustic rather than using onion and vinegar to flavor the pork.
With this particular recipe, I thought it would be amazing to make a pulled pork version of eggs benedict, with the pulled pork stepping in for the Canadian bacon. Brilliant, no? Unfortunately, my family ate up all the leftover pulled pork before I had a chance to put my plan into motion, but the good news is that I have more of the pork should I bought still in the freezer just waiting for me to make more pulled pork. And given that I was picking the pork off the cutting board as my husband was pulling it, that’s probably going to be pretty soon!
Seriously, how can you resist pulled pork? And when it’s made in a crock pot? Gotta love the lack of effort and overseeing it takes. Granted, I did take the time to give it a nice sear before I put it in the crock pot, and I wouldn’t skip that step, but it only takes a few minutes. This was less than 15 minutes from the time I started combining the seasonings until the meat was happy resting in the crock pot.
So yes, we didn’t use the traditional buns that you would see on a pulled pork sandwich. We’re weirdos when it comes to that. Instead of the big puffy buns most people use, we like the thin whole wheat buns instead, but feel free to put this pork wherever it needs to be. Including in nachos. Or on a baked potato. (Seriously, pulled pork baked potato is one of my son’s best requests ever.)
Crock Pot Pulled Pork
1/4 c brown sugar
1 T smoked paprika
1 t mustard powder
1 t cumin
2 t salt
1 t pepper
2 T oil
1/2 c water
1 c vinegar
1/4 c tomato paste
Prep your pork shoulder by trimming the fat. You don’t need to be perfect, as far will dissolve and add flavor to some degree during the cooking process. You need only so much fat in your life, right?
On your stove, heat a heavy pan to sear your pork. This is a relatively quick step but really makes a difference in your end product, so don’t skip it. Once the pan is heated, add your oil, but prep your pork while the pot is heating.
In a small bowl, add the brown sugar, paprika, mustard powder, cumin, salt, and pepper. Mix together the ingredients for your rub. Feel free to use your fingers, as you’ll be using them shortly, so you may as well get them dirty now.
Spread the rub onto your pork, covering all the surfaces and ensuring that you massage it into the meat. Once it is well covered, carefully put it into the hot pan, being careful not to splash the oil anywhere.
Sear on each side to create a beautiful crust, carefully turning it every few minutes until all sides have seared. Use tongs to hold the meat in place if it isn’t cooperating with you, not that this has ever happened to me, of course.
Once it’s seared, place your pork to the side for a moment. Immediately pour the water into your still hot pan, which will pull up the bits of flavor that you just got stuck onto your pan. Use a wooden spoon to stir and pull them up, then pour the water and flavor into your crock pot. Add the tomato paste and vinegar, and whisk together until incorporated.
Add the pork into the crock pot, and cook on low in you crock pot for 8 to 10 hours. Yum.
When your pork is fully cooked, remove it from the crock pot. It will literally fall apart as you’re removing it, so be prepared to dig out multiple pieces. Place them on a cutting board and use forks to pull the meat apart. Do your best not to pick at it until it’s all gone.
Place the liquid left in the crock pot into a pot and bring to a rolling boil. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes until it is reduced by half.
Return the meat to the crock pot or another bowl, and add the reduced liquid. Stir well and taste. Add salt or vinegar or even tomato paste, as needed, depending on your personal preferences. I added another dollop (technical, I know – maybe 2 tablespoons?) of tomato paste and that was perfect for me.
Serve immediately on buns with barbecue sauce, and enjoy! This will also keep in the fridge for three days. It makes a good amount for leftovers or to share at a party, but it goes fast!
- 4-5 lb pork shoulder
- 1/4 c brown sugar
- 1 T smoked paprika
- 1 t mustard powder
- 1 t cumin
- 2 t salt
- 1 t pepper
- 2 T oil
- 1/2 c water
- 1 c vinegar
- 1/4 c tomato paste
- Prep pork shoulder by trimming the fat.
- Heat heavy pan on the stove to sear pork. Once heated, add oil once pork is ready to go in.
- In a small bowl, add brown sugar, paprika, mustard powder, cumin, salt, and pepper. Mix together.
- Spread rub onto pork. Once well covered, carefully put in hot pan.
- Sear on each side.
- Once seared, place pork on a cutting board. Immediately pour water into still hot pan. Use a wooden spoon to stir and pull up cooked bits, then pour water and flavor into crock pot.
- Add tomato paste and vinegar, and whisk. Add pork and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours.
- When pork fully cooked, remove from crock pot. Place on cutting board and pull the meat apart.
- Place liquid remaining in crock pot into a pot and bring to a rolling boil. Cook for 10-15 minutes until reduced by half.
- Return meat to crock pot, and add the reduced liquid. Stir well and taste. Add salt or vinegar or even tomato paste, as needed. Serve immediately on buns with barbecue sauce.
This will also keep in the fridge for three days. It makes a good amount for leftovers or to share at a party, but it goes fast!
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 488 Total Fat: 35g Saturated Fat: 12g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 20g Cholesterol: 136mg Sodium: 496mg Carbohydrates: 5g Fiber: 1g Sugar: 4g Protein: 36g