Having a simple method for making tender, juicy Slow Cooker Pulled Pork will mean you've always got the basics ready for making your own tacos, tostadas, and wraps, or you can just pile the shreds of moist flavourful meat onto mashed potatoes or rice, or layer it in fresh buns with crunchy coleslaw for feeding your family or a crowd. Throw a frozen hunk of meat in the slow cooker in the morning, and come home to a spicy fiesta on your dinner plate in the evening. (Skip to recipe.)
I'm sitting in an Airbnb in St. Louis, Missouri, visiting my daughter and heading out to explore this diverse and fascinating city in the American Midwest. I'm excited to do some of the touristy things, like heading up the iconic Gateway Arch or touring the Botanical Gardens, but I'm also looking forward (er . . . salivating) to trying some of the famous barbecue from this state.
Which brings me in a roundabout way to this delicious pulled pork. It's also cooked long and slow, and has that sweet/tangy/smoky flavour that comes with barbecue - only you don't need coals or smoke or a barbecue. So it's, of course, nothing like Kansas City barbecue, but it's moist and tender and juicy and oh-so-very addictively tasty. AND, you can make it at home in your slow cooker while you gad about your day. You can easily feed it to a crowd (I often put two pork roasts into my 6-quart slow cooker) or freeze some for those days when the after school get-a-quick-meal-on-the-table rush threatens to overwhelm. (It works just as well with a rock-hard frozen roast if you didn't get time to plan ahead.) The recipe and method are shockingly simple.
'Give the laziest man the hardest job and he'll figure out the easiest way to do it." (That's me!)
Slow Cooker Pulled Pork is kitchen gold. You can use it as the base for so many meals: pulled pork tacos or tostadas, add it to wraps (great for school lunches), add it to stir fries or fried rice, serve it over eggs for breakfast or added to a salad for lunch, layer it in quesadillas or Queso Fundido or on top of nachos. You can have pulled pork as the main entree over rice or mashed potatoes, or serve it the traditional way; load into a soft fresh bun with a good amount of creamy, crunchy coleslaw piled on top.
You got this!
Let's Make our Moist & Tender Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
Put the fresh, defrosted, or solidly frozen hunk of meat into the slow cooker. Sprinkle the spices on top, drizzle with honey and vinegar. Close the lid.
Then you turn on the slow cooker and go about your day. Go for a walk, go sky-diving, repaint the outhouse, clean out your rain gutters, or learn a new language.
Once you're done, come back and open the lid on that aromatic, steaming, drool-inducing slow cooker, lift out the falling-off-the-bone hunk of meat, and shred it up with two forks (or your fingers). The most flavourful, moist, spicy bits are, of course, the cook's reward for doing all the . . . ahem . . . back-breaking prep for this fantastic Slow Cooker Pulled Pork.
Last step is to toss the meat in all those rich, flavoured braising juices that are left in the slow cooker.
Now it's ready to serve or to use as the base in whatever dish you want.
How many different ways can you think of to use pulled pork?
* * * * *
Kitchen Frau Notes: I like to double the recipe and put 2 pork roasts into my large slow cooker. The cook time stays the same, but you've got twice as much 'kitchen gold'.
If you're out of chili powder, you can also substitute taco seasoning. No honey in the house? Use 3 to 4 tablespoons brown sugar. No vinegar? Use lime or lemon juice.
*You really don't need to measure the ingredients. You can just sprinkle on the amounts to taste for your family's likes; a liberal coating of chili powder, a bit of salt and smoked paprika, and a good drizzle of honey and vinegar.
EASIER YET VERSION: just use chili powder, honey, and vinegar to flavour the meat before slow cooking.
Easy, Lazy Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
- 1.5 - 2 kg (3-4½ lbs) pork shoulder roast (picnic or butt roast), preferably with bone in and skin on
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (mild or hot)
- 2 - 3 tablespoons chili powder (not ground chili pepper, but the prepared spice blend for flavouring chili con carne – you can buy it or make your own – easy recipe here)
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons vinegar
Place the fresh or frozen roast in the slow cooker. Sprinkle with the salt, paprika, and chili powder. Drizzle with the honey and vinegar.
Cook on the low heat setting for 8 to 10 hours (10 hours if the roast was frozen).
*For oven roasting; Place the ingredients, plus ½ cup of water poured around the meat, into a heavy Dutch oven pot with a tight fitting lid and bake, covered, at 250°F (130°C) for 8 to 10 hours in the oven. Check periodically to see if you need to add more water; there should always be a bit of liquid in the bottom of the pan. If your lid is a really tight-fitting one, you shouldn't need to add any more water.
When the pork is done, it will be tender and falling off the bone. Remove the meat to a platter or cookie sheet with a lip to it; you may have to move it in chunks with a large slotted spoon since it is so tender.
Shred the pork with two forks into chunky strands (about pencil thick; if you shred it too finely it will become stringy when you stir it). Discard any large bits of fat. If the roast has skin on it, scrape off and discard the whitish fatty layer from the inner side of the skin with a butter knife, leaving the flavourful and soft outer skin. Cut the pork skin into narrow matchstick strips and add them to the pulled pork. They add moisture, lovely flavour and unctuousness to the meat and are not noticeable among the shreds of pork.
Skim any excess fat off the liquid left in the slow cooker. Return the shredded meat and pork skin strips to the liquid in the slow cooker, tossing to moisten everything, or place the meat in a serving bowl and pour the liquid over it, tossing it gently.
At this point you can serve the pulled pork immediately, or keep it warm in the slow cooker on the 'keep warm' setting until you're ready for dinner. The cooked meat also freezes well.
To serve, place a spoonful of meat in the center of a small corn or flour tortilla, top with your choice of sliced avocado, thinly sliced onions, thinly sliced cabbage, cucumbers, or radishes, fresh cilantro leaves, and a dollop of salsa or sour cream.
Or just pile the pulled pork onto a big ol' heap of rice or mashed potatoes and serve with your favourite vegetables and a salad.
*Note: If you have any leftover pulled pork, drain it and mix it with a bit of your favourite barbecue sauce, heat, and serve on buns topped with creamy coleslaw, for another great meal.
A smallish 1.5 kg (3lb) roast will give you about 5 cups (1.2l) of pulled pork.
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