Crockpot Pulled Pork

I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned this before, but I lived in Nashville for 3 years while attending law school.  Admittedly, I haven’t lived many places, but Nashville ranks at the top of the list.  It was SUCH a fun city and I had the best time while I was there!  The people were wonderful, the cost of living was low, there were tons of activities in the downtown area (which was easily accessible), traffic was almost non-existent….I could go on and on.  Someday I really hope to live there again;  I’ve just got to work on convincing Shane – he’s not sold on the South.  One of the things I miss most about Nashville are the barbecue restaurants.  There’s simply nothing around me now that compares.  I remember leisurely lunches with my coworkers at Jack’s during the summer after my first year of law school.  I always ordered the pulled pork and it was simply divine.

Crockpot Pulled Pork
(I like to use a liner in my slow cooker to make for easy clean-up but it’s certainly not necessary.)

Without a good source for pulled pork here, I’ve wanted to try making my own forever.  I’m almost embarrassed to admit it, but the thing that kept me from doing it sooner was that I didn’t know what cut of meat to buy.  I’ve found that the same cut of meat can have many names in the market and it confused me for the longest time.  Finally, though, I think I’ve got it figured out thanks to an afternoon spent reading All About Braising by Molly Stevens, a book I recently ordered from Amazon after recommendations from both Whitney and Andrea.  This recipe calls for pork shoulder but in your market it might also be called Boston butt (or Boston shoulder) or picnic shoulder.  If you have a choice, go with bone-in.    

Crockpot Pulled Pork

This might be one of the easiest recipes I’ve ever made.  You create a spice rub, massage it onto the meat, let it rest in the fridge and then pop the meat in your slow cooker with a bit of water.  The meat cooks on low all day and you wind up with wonderfully tender and flavorful meat.  I used a 6 pound pork shoulder for this recipe and found that it was fork-tender after about 8 hours, if you’re trying to plan ahead.  I’ll warn you that unless you’re feeding an army, you will have leftovers, but good news – the pork freezes beautifully!  I portioned it into quart-sized freezer bags and on nights I didn’t feel like cooking, I pulled a bag out for a super quick and easy meal.  Shane and I were both huge fans and though it’s not exactly like Jack’s, it’s the next best thing until I can get there again! 

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
adapted slightly from The Way the Cookie Crumbles

1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1-2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon dried oregano
4 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons table salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 (6-8 pound) bone-in pork shoulder
1 cup barbecue sauce (plus extra for serving, if desired)

To make the spice rub: Combine all of the ingredients except the pork and the barbecue sauce in a bowl.  Massage this spice rub onto the pork, coating each side thoroughly.  Wrap the pork tightly with two layers of plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours (or up to 3 days).

Unwrap the roast and place it in your slow cooker.  Add 1/4 cup of water then turn the slow cooker to low and cook for 8-10 hours, or until the meat is fork-tender.

Transfer the pork to a cutting board and discard the liquid in the slow cooker.  Shred the meat using two forks to pull it apart.  Discard any fat.  Place the shredded meat back in the slow cooker and add 1 cup of barbecue sauce, tossing to combine.  Heat on low for 30-60 minutes, or until hot.  Serve the pork with additional barbecue sauce, if desired.