I had such success with my slow cooker french dip the other week, I couldn’t wait until I had the opportunity to break out my slow cooker again for another dish. My trip to Dallas put me in the mood for some barbecue and I decided to try and adapt one of my favorite recipes to the slow cooker: pulled pork. Pulled pork is traditionally cooked by smoking the meat (usually a pork shoulder or pork butt) for hours at a low temperature, infusing the meat with a nice, smoky bbq flavor and creating a super tender texture where the meat simply falls apart at the touch of a fork. You don’t really get the smoky flavor with a slow cooker, but you can easily replicate the long, low-heat cooking process with excellent results.
I picked up a nice big pork shoulder at Whole Foods and put it into my slow cooker with some homemade barbecue sauce. I noticed, when I was researching various different pulled pork recipes, that most don’t call to use that much cooking liquid/bbq sauce in with the meat. I’ve always found that things in my slow cooker work best when there is quite a bit of liquid and so I ended up making a really big batch of sauce. I put half into the slow cooker to infuse the meat and reserved half, pouring it onto the finished pulled pork when I served it on top of my homemade yogurt sandwich rolls. More barbecue sauce is generally a good thing in my book, especially with a tangy one like this.
The pork turned out to be incredibly moist and tender. It’s hard to find good barbecue out here in So. Cal., so I would even venture to say that it is the best I’ve had in a while – high praise, considering that the meat wasn’t smoked and the recipe took virtually no “active” work time! I’ll make this again and again and it’s definitely something I would break out to serve at a big, casual party. You can use a different bbq sauce if you have a favorite, although tangy sauces are pretty standard for pulled pork.
Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
5-6 lb. pork shoulder/pork butt
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 cup ketchup
2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup tomato paste
3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
3 tbsp mustard
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp garlic powder
pinch cayenne pepper
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
3/4 cup water
Place onion on the bottom of your slow cooker. Place pork shoulder, trimmed of any obvious excess fat, into slow cooker on top of onions.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all remaining ingredients to form the barbecue sauce. Feel free to adjust salt and pepper to taste, if necessary. Pour half of the sauce over the pork and cover. Set remaining sauce aside.
Cook over low heat for about 8 hours (or according to your slow cooker’s presets).
Remove pork to a large bowl and shred with two forks. Transfer meat back into slow cooker and cook for a few more minutes, until meat has soaked up the sauce. Pulled pork can be held on the “warm” setting in the slow cooker for serving.
Serve on soft sandwich rolls, topped with extra barbecue sauce.