The last few days we’ve had a little taste of summer, a welcome respite from “Storm Watch 2010” and news of the deep freeze blanketing the rest of the country. Walking my little Corgi, Tank, in the neighborhood, the scent of grilling started my taste buds yearning for some good ole southern-style pulled pork. Here in SoCal we’re fortunate to have grilling weather year-round but this recipe utilizes the under-appreciated slow cooker (also known as a “crock pot”) in place of standing over a hot, smoky grill for hours – which isn’t possible if your grill is stored for the winter or under two feet of snow! Naturally, the slow-cooked grill or smoker method is more authentic, and I have done that on occasion, but sometimes you just don’t have the time or inclination to tend the grill!
Pulled Pork Sandwiches
Pork is a terrific source of lean protein when not fried or breaded and this deliciously easy recipe combines protein topped with a lower-calorie crunchy, nutritious cole slaw that the whole family will love. Prepared in the slow cooker, you can enjoy a taste of summer BBQ any time of year!
2-3 lb. pork shoulder country style ribs or pork shoulder roast
2-3 tablespoons Cajun or Southwestern spice blend for dry rub
1 teaspoon Liquid Smoke
2 tablespoons olive oil
Prepared BBQ sauce ( I like Stubb’s)
Burger buns of your choice
1. Begin the day before. If you use a roast, cut it in half lengthwise (so its half the thickness). Coat the meat with the dry rub. Brown ribs or roast on all sides in a dutch oven or large skillet coated with olive oil. Cook for 6-8 hours on Low in a crock pot. No need to add liquid – after a few hours the meat will be submerged in its own juices and fat. Refrigerate overnight – the main reason for doing this is to solidify the juices so you can remove the fat.
2. The next day, use a spoon to remove the solid white fat layer on top, retaining the semi-solid gelatinous meat juices. Return meat to slow-cooker, add BBQ sauce and cook for 4-6 more hours on Low until the meat is falling off the bone and pulls apart easily with a fork. If you notice that the meat is getting too browned, turn the heat down to the Serve setting.
3. Transfer the meat to a cutting board and shred or “pull apart” using a meat fork and your fingers. (This is why its called pulled pork.)
Toast buns and serve with a spoonful of cole slaw on top (southern style) or on the side. Cole slaw adds the perfect creamy, cool, crunchy complement to robust, spicy BBQ pulled pork.
Just as there are all kinds of BBQ: sweet, spicy, vinegary, with dry rub, without, there are variations in cole slaw. A lot of people would probably like cole slaw better if they would prepare the dressing to their liking rather than purchasing sugary and mayo-laden supermarket cole slaw. We like ours crunchy (so prepare only about 30 minutes before serving) and lightly dressed. With a package of prepared tri-color slaw, it only takes a few minutes. Here’s how I do it:
¼ small red cabbage, thinly sliced
¼ medium-sized green cabbage, thinly sliced
1 carrot, grated
2-3 T. low cal mayo
¼ c. milk
1 t. Dijon mustard
½ t. cayenne
½ t. sugar
Whisk ingredients in a glass bowl. Shortcut: Use ½ bag prepared cabbage & carrot cole slaw mix and blend well.