We were craving pulled pork something fierce last week, so we got ourselves a nice pork shoulder and got looking for a good indoor recipe. We finally decided on a slow cooker pulled pork recipe from a book called Cheater BBQ: Barbecue Anywhere, Any Time, in Any Weather by Mindy Merrell and R.B. Quinn, which we discovered through this recipe reprinted a few years back on The Splendid Table radio show. And, people? You have got to try this recipe!
The recipe is a snap. It's a true "dump and cook" slow-cooker recipe that requires almost no prep work. You cut a pork shoulder into several big chunks and toss them in the slow cooker with a basic spice rub. A bottle of liquid smoke (about 1/2 cup) goes in as the braising liquid, and you're ready to cook!
We did add an extra step — we seared our pork before putting it in the slow cooker and then deglazed the pan with a splash of cider vinegar. Call us superstitious, but searing always seems to add that extra layer of savory flavor to whatever we're cooking. We tend to do it even when its not called for.
Really, the hardest thing about this recipe is waiting for it to be done! It starts smelling incredible a good three hours before its actually done. Resisting the temptation to crack the lid and try a bite was sheer torture.
But resist we did, and we were rewarded with meat that literally fell apart as soon as we touched it. Talk about fork-tender! You can make your own barbecue sauce with the cooking liquid or use your favorite bottled sauce, but we actually ended up eating the meat on its own because it was so moist and flavorful.
It has been a very long time since we had pulled pork this good. We're no barbecue experts, but we know good meat when we taste it. The meat itself was tender and juicy. It tasted rich and savory, with just a hint of smoke. (We were actually afraid the smokiness would be overpowering given how much liquid smoke we poured on top, so we were very pleased with the result.)
Really, we can't say enough good things here. We couldn't believe how good this was given that the meat never went near an actual barbecue or smoker!
Have any of you made this recipe? What did you think?
→ Get The Recipe: Ultimate Cheater Pulled Pork at The Splendid Table, reprinted from Cheater BBQ: Barbecue Anywhere, Any Time, in Any Weather by Mindy Merrell and R.B. Quinn (Random House 2008).
(Images: Emma Christensen)