We recently got a slow cooker and I am loving it. I have mostly been making slow cooker ribs, and this week tried making pulled pork for the first time. It was super easy to prepare and came out delicious. I think the most important thing is to get the right cut of pork – pork butt, sometimes called boston butt or pork shoulder. Apparently the butt is the top part of the shoulder, while something called the picnic is the bottom part of the shoulder. See discussion on bbq-brethren.com If you tell your butcher or meat department person at the grocery store that you are making pulled pork, they will know what to give you.
For the pork
4-5 lb pork butt
4-8 garlic cloves
salt and pepper
approx. 1/2 cup of brown sugar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
For the barbecue sauce
Reserved juice from meat (see instructions below)
1 tsp cayenne (or to taste)
1-2 tsp of sriracha or favourite hot sauce
1/3 to 1/2 cup ketchup
For the coleslaw
1 lb. bag of coleslaw or grate your own carrot and cabbage (green or purple or a combination is fine). Optional veggies: diced bell pepper, radish, finely chopped onion
3/4 cup mayonnaise
4 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp. celery seeds
salt and pepper to taste (about 1/4 tsp. each)
2-3 tbsp white sugar
and… some buns! I used fresh sourdough buns. You’ll have enough meat for about 12 sandwiches, so grab a dozen buns.
For the pork:
1. Roughly chop onion and peel garlic cloves and place in bottom of slow cooker dish.
2. Sprinkle salt, pepper and garlic powder over pork.
3. Pat brown sugar all over seasoned pork and place on top of onions in slow cooker. Some sugar will fall off, that’s ok.
4. Pour apple cider vinegar and Worcestershire sauce over pork.
5. Turn on slow cooker to high and leave about 2 hours.
6. Then turn down to low and continue cooking 6 hours. If you prefer to make before going to bed, just turn on low and leave on all night. You will wake up to the delicious smell of slow cooked pork! Pork should be easy to shred or pull apart when you stick a fork in it.
Note: When you get started it will look like there is not much liquid, about an inch or two. It will definitely not cover the meat but that is OK, as the slow cooker ensures good circulation of flavour. If you are interested, King Arthur Flour has a good pulled pork post with similar method that has some great process photos for the slow cooker part.
For the barbecue sauce:
1. Drain the juices from the pork into a large jar and place in the fridge.
2. Once cool, the fat will have hardened into a white layer on top. Scoop this off.
3. Scoop the jelled pork broth into a saucepan and add cayenne, hot sauce and ketchup.
4. Bring to a boil, then reduce and let simmer for at least 10 minutes for a runny sauce, or up to 1 hour for a thick concentrated sauce. (I let it simmer for one hour and the result was great – the sauce gets real thick and then you only need a couple tablespoons per sandwich and the sandwiches are less messy than with a runny sauce).
For the coleslaw:
1. Pour coleslaw veggies in a bowl, or grate your own into a bowl.
2. Blend mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper, and celery seeds. I have a magic bullet so I make all my dressings in there, but you can just as easily stir in a jar.
3. Add dressing a few scoops at a time to veggies and stir. You may not want to use all the veggies. I grated enough carrot and cabbage for one meal and then used some of the dressing, and then grate fresh stuff again for the next meal so we don’t have soggy coleslaw!
1. Slice buns. Toast if desired.
2. Pile pork on bun.
3. Scoop some of your barbecue sauce on top of the pork.
4. Top with as much coleslaw as you like, but the bun “lid” on and enjoy!