Good evening everyone! Despite the fact that cooking is our favorite hobby and that spending a little time in the kitchen every night is a great way for Maggie and I to unwind, there are still times when we simply don't have the energy or the drive. You know the feeling, a long day of work, perhaps a bad day. You've been busy, you've got evening plans - whatever the reason there always are times when you simply don't have a lot of time to cook. It's not for a lack of want - you certainly WANT to cook fresh and delicious meals for your family - but you just don't have the time.
This week, we're in that situation. I'm working 44 hours, by myself, all week. I come home, slip in a little workout and am simply too shot to feel motivated to get into the kitchen. So, what's a chef to do on nights like these? Frozen dinners? Leftovers? Eat out? No, no and no. The answer, my friends, is the slow cooker. With a little prep, a slow cooker becomes the time pressed cook's best friend.
Tonight, I'm breaking out our slow cooker to try something completely new. Since we tried pork out a few weeks ago and found that pork was not only a nice menu item if cooked properly - but it also didn't attack my digestive system like it used to when I was younger. As such, tonight we're diving in to something I've always wanted to make but was too afraid to try before I knew pork was a welcome menu item again. Let's dive in!
The Recipe: North Carolina Pulled Pork
Original Recipe Found In: The Cook's Country Cookbook: Regional and Heirloom Favorites Tested and Reimagined for Today's Home Cooks
What You'll Need:
For the spice rub -
4 Tablespoons Paprika
3 Tablespoons Dark Brown Sugar
2 Tablespoons Chili Powder
1 Tablespoon Ground Cumin
1 Tablespoon Pepper
2 Teaspoons Salt
For the sauce-*
1 Cup Cider Vinegar
3/4 Cup Ketchup
3 Tablespoons Dark Brown Sugar
1 1/2 Teaspoons Liquid Smoke
1 Boneless Pork Butt (5 to 6 pounds) **
1 Cup Low Sodium Chicken Broth
**We are using a 3.5 pound pork butt for our recipe
* For our sauce, we reduced everything by 1/2 (1/2 the pork = 1/2 the sauce needed)
Begin by combining all of the ingredients of the spice rub together in a small bowl.
Next, thoroughly coat the meat with the spice rub. If you want to be proactive and prepare this portion the night before, you can simply rub the meat with the spices, wrap the pork tightly in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for up to one day.
Once you're ready to begin cooking, simply place the seasoned pork in the slow cooker and add the low sodium chicken broth. Set the slow cooker to low and allow to cook for 5 to 8 hours. By the end of the cooking time, your pork should have completely fallen apart. This is a great sign of juicy, tender pork!
Using two large spoons carefully transfer the pork to a rimmed baking sheet. This may be harder than it seems, our pork was all to eager to fall apart right in the slow cooker. Using forks, separate the pork until it becomes finely shredded. This should be relatively easy, especially after a long day of cooking.
While the pork is cooling, pour the cooking liquid through a strainer and reserve 1/2 cup of the juices in a measuring cup. Whisk the liquid, ketchup, brown sugar and liquid smoke until well combined. Pour the mixture over the pork and combine until blended. Serve on a lightly toasted bun and enjoy!
I'm glad that we discovered pork to be 'okay' once again, because we certainly have been missing out on the wonders that are barbecue and pork products. We've used a lot of barbecue recipes (some of them were even pulled pork recipes that we simply replaced with chicken) but none have had this flavor. The pork was amazingly tender and simply burst with delicious, almost smokey flavor. This is easily the best pulled meat sandwich I've ever had - and we've made some fantastic variants on the blog before.
As a side note - if you're following along at home you've likely noticed that our recipe is not really like the original in Cook's Country. I've heavily adapted it to fit our needs - so I would still encourage you to check out the original recipe and give it a try as well. We stayed close to the recipe, but made enough changes that the two probably would taste slightly different. The original calls for two variants of pork, and to reduce the cooking liquid (all 6 cups or so) for 40 minutes before blending it with a much more concentrated version of the sauce.
Additional side note, North Carolina style barbeque is a lot thinner than standard BBQ. The sauce won't coat the meat - rather it surrounds (and gets absorbed into) the meat, complimenting the final flavor. You might not see it, but it certainly can be tasted!
That's all we have for you this week. Maggie is recovering nicely from her cold, so we expect her to be back to cooking and blogging on Tuesday. I'll be taking to the kitchen on Wednesday of next week, and of course, Around The Culinary World will start off our Monday. Until then,