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BBQ Pulled Pork

I love every meat that comes from a pig (I can feel my vegetarian and vegan friends recoiling in horror at this statement). I am sorry. But I must give the pig the credit he deserves- he is delicious!

Bacon, pancetta, spare ribs, pork tenderloin, pork chops, ham, sausages, pork belly, pork rinds and finally, pork shoulder (also referred to as pork or Boston butt- cuts of meat have a very confusing nomenclature) are all delicious, and all so different! While smoky, sweet bacon is a classic favorite, pulled pork might be my favorite cut of pork. 

My spice mix is full of flavor: earthy heat (cumin, coriander), smoky heat (paprika, chipotle) and straight heat (cayenne, mustard powder) cut with sweetness (brown sugar) and the usual savory foundation (garlic, pepper, onion). Make sure to use plenty of salt; 8 pounds is a ton of meat and it needs to be adequately seasoned.

Pulled pork is the ultimate slow-cooked food. Slather the cut of meat with a dry rub and let it rest overnight to absorb all of the seasoning; believe me, you can taste the difference between an overnight rub and a slapdash one. Do not skip the browning step; this is the first foundation of flavor you build. The outside of the meat gets caramelized and lusciously browned. Do not leave one bit of fond behind! Those dark bits are intense flavor bombs. I am lucky that my slow cooker has a sear function; since that is a rare function on most slow cookers my instructions include a quick trip to the stovetop.

My favorite part of this recipe might be smelling the meat cook away in the slow cooker; however, around hour nine I might hear my tummy rumbling and my mouth starting to salivate. Allow the BBQ sauce to heat through and the flavors to meld after you mix it in; again, this adds a little extra time to the cooking but the flavors meld together so beautifully that it is well-worth the wait.

Serve this with your favorite pulled-pork topping and enjoy!

2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
1 7 pound pork shoulder (or pork or Boston butt)
1 cup chicken stock (home made or salt free)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoon of granulated garlic
2 tablespoons of granulated onion
2 tablespoons of hot smoked paprika
1 tablespoon of cumin 
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon of dry mustard powder
2 teaspoons of cayenne powder
1 teaspoon chipotle powder
6 tablespoons of brown sugar
freshly cracked black pepper
3 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
2 sweet onions, sliced pole to pole (with the grain)
4 garlic cloves, smashed
2 to 3 cups of homemade or store-bought BBQ sauce (Sweet Baby Rays!)


In a small bowl, mix together the garlic, onion, paprika, chili powder, cumin, coriander, mustard powder, cayenne powder, brown sugar, salt and black pepper.Rub this dry mixture all over the pork shoulder, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it overnight.

The next day, place a large skillet over medium high heat,  and add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Sear the pork shoulder on all sides until browned; about 3 to 4 minutes a side. Remove the meat to the slow cooker; deglaze the pan with the chicken stock, making sure to scrape up the fond.

Place the pork, pan drippings, chicken stock, vinegar, sliced onion and garlic into a slow cooker set to low for 10 hours. Pour the contents of the slow cook through a strainer, reserving the liquid. Shred the meat, removing large chunks of fat. 

Return the meat, garlic and onions to the slow cooker set to low. Add the BBQ sauce and some of the reserved liquid, if needed. Leave the meat for 30 minutes to an hour to heat the BBQ sauce through and to let the flavors meld.

Serve with toasted, buttered buns, a slice of grilled pineapple, and coleslaw (a much needed crunch). Enjoy!


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