Ah, pulled pork. Depending on where you live, this little delicacy might be called “Pulled Pork,” “Pork Barbecue,” or even just “Barbecue.” But no matter what you call it, the bare bones of this dish are the same: fall-apart tender meat in a delicious, tangy BBQ sauce. The neat thing is . . . this dish is probably one of the easiest things you’ll ever make. Plug in your crock pot. Yep. That’s about the length of the heavy lifting and cooking prowess you will need for this. Throw this recipe into the crock pot before you leave for work, and then come home to amazing, fork-tender meat. You can throw dinner together in 5 minutes and even have enough to freeze for later. It’s a win-win. Shhh . . . I won’t tell them how easy it is, if you don’t.
This dish is also superb for picnics and get togethers– one 5 lb. pork shoulder makes enough for 25 or so sandwiches. Grab some buns and side dishes, and you have a fantastic meal for a crowd, with practically zero effort. Did I mention that this meal is also deliciously tasty and CHEAP? Whew. Come over and shake this guy’s hand . . . because I think we just met our new best friend.
What are we waiting for? Let’s do this!
Crock Pot Pulled Pork BBQ
(adapted from Allrecipes.com)
3-5 lb. pork shoulder (called either “Butt” or “Shoulder” in the meat section)
1 can regular Root Beer (the cheap stuff is fine– even better, actually)
Favorite BBQ sauce
Seriously. That’s it.
Place pork shoulder in crock pot. Pour Root Beer over meat and cook on low 6-8 hours. Remove meat from the liquid when the meat is fall apart tender and shred with 2 forks. Season with salt and pepper, if desired, and add enough BBQ sauce to make meat the consistency of Pulled Pork.
This recipe is so easy, you’ll wonder why you ever paid for Pulled Pork at a restaurant. Let’s take a look at the process in pictures.
To begin with . . . let’s talk pork. Ah! One of my favorite subjects! Pork looks good in many suits . . . crispy bacon, succulent ham, and, of course, fork-tender pulled pork sandwiches. So, which cut should you use for this, if ALL of those things are in the pork family? That’s a great question. I’m so glad you asked it. I knew you were smart.
Well, personally, I like to use the cheapest cuts of pork for pulled pork. Cheap (and fattier) cuts of meat are made for slow cooking, because all that fat breaks down (and comes off– so don’t worry about eating) through a low and slow cooking process, rendering your meat unbelievably tender (the same thing goes for beef– chuck roast is the soulmate of low and slow cooking). In the meat department, the cheapest pork cuts are called either “Pork Butt” or “Pork Shoulder,” and they are basically the same thing. If you watch the sales, you can pick this meat up for 99 cents a pound– it freezes beautifully, so get the butcher to cut it in half, for you (at no charge– aww, how sweet! 🙂 and freeze another piece for next time.
You can also use leaner cuts of pork, such as pork loin, but it will not be quite as tender (though still very tasty!) and will probably be about double the price of the pork shoulder. However, there is no bone to pick out of the pork loin. Eh . . . I guess there are pros and cons to each 🙂
Place your pork shoulder (or loin, if you’d rather) into the crock pot and pour a can of root beer over it. Tell yourself that you’re cooking. You’re throwing things into a pot, and you’re cooking. Look at you go. Let it simmer away, on low, for 6-8 hours, until you can stick a fork into the meat and it just falls apart– that’s how tender you want it to be. It should be so tender that you almost have trouble taking it out of the juice, because it completely falls apart every time you try to lift it out . . . just so tender.
“Love me tender . . .”
When the pork is falling apart tender, go ahead and take a couple forks and, well . . . “pull” it! Just kind of use the forks to scrape away at the meat. It will just fall apart and shred. I like to shred one piece at a time on a separate plate– that way it doesn’t get too crowded, and you can make sure all the meat is shredded and that you didn’t miss any big pieces.
This step is optional, but when I get a plateful shredded, I salt and pepper the meat, to give it a little more flavor. Everyone needs a little spicing up in life . . . even the lowly pork shoulder 🙂 You can also add what my friend Jacqui calls the classic “SPOG” (Salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder). I do that sometimes, too.
Whenever I finish shredding and seasoning a plate of meat, I dump it into a bowl and get another plate going. When all your meat is shredded, it’s time for the fun part– making the BBQ! Use your favorite store-bought BBQ sauce, or even mix a few different flavors, depending on what you have on hand. Call it creativity 😉
Mix in about 1 cup of BBQ sauce and stir. I usually add about 1/2 cup of the Root Beer mixture just to make the meat nice and moist (the rest of the Root Beer base can be thrown away). Add enough BBQ sauce to bring the meat to the consistency that you like your pulled pork to be. And suddenly . . . 5 minutes after you shredded the pork, your meal is ready! You superwoman, you! If you’re feeding a crowd, you can do all this the day before and just warm the meat for the get-together (did you know there was a “warm” setting on your crock pot? It’s perfect for keeping this meat warm over the course of a big meal).
You can refrigerate this BBQ for a few days, in the fridge, or you can package it in individual freezer bags for a quick meal anytime. It’s so easy to freeze individual portions of the meat in sandwich bags and throw it in your lunch for work. Bonus . . . you have an edible icepack that will keep the rest of your lunch nice and cool! 🙂 I often send individual portions like this in my hubby’s lunch, along with a separately packaged hamburger bun, so he can make it fresh when he heats the meat at work. Sometimes it’s nice to have a change up from the ‘ole PB&J.
You made an amazing meal in 5 minutes, flat. You made it out of 3 ingredients. You packed lunches like Paula Deen. And you even have enough left for tomorrow.
You did it. And I’m just so proud of you.
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