Thursday, February 23, 2012

North Carolina Pulled Pork

This recipe comes from the Slow Cooker Revolution book by America's Test Kitchen.

This is a pulled pork recipe that's a little more tangy and vinegary than your traditional barbeque sauce pulled pork. It's delicious!

North Carolina Pulled Pork 

6 Tbs brown sugar (I ended up using more to taste)
1/4 cup paprika
2 Tbs chili powder
1 Tbs ground cumin
2 tsp salt
1 Tbs ground pepper
1 (5 pound) boneless pork butt roast, trimmed and quartered *
3 smoked ham hocks, rinsed
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup cider vinegar
3/4 cup ketchup
1 1/2 tsp liquid smoke

* The package of meat I bought had 3 pieces of pork butt instead of one large one. Since this was the case I didn't need to quarter it. If it comes as one large one, the extra surface area gained by quartering it is necessary.

1.   Combine 3 Tbs. sugar, paprika, chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper in a bowl. using a fork, prick pork all over. Rub sugar mixture over pork (really rub it in with your hands) and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate it for at least 8 hours, up to 24 hours.

2.   Place ham hocks in the slow cooker. Unwrap pork and place on top of the hocks. Pour broth over pork, cover, and cook until pork is tender, 9 to 11 hours on low, 5 to 7 hours on high. (It's done when you stick a fork in, twist it, and the pork shreds very easily. Mine only took probably 8 hours on low.)

3.   Transfer pork to a large dish and let it cool. When it's cool, shred it. (Don't shred it too much because it falls apart more once you put it with the sauce.) Throw away the ham hocks. Let the liquid in the slow cooker settle for a bit, and drain off any fat/grease that floats to the top.

4.   Strain the liquid into a medium saucepan and simmer uncovered until it reduces to about 1 to 1 1/2 cups worth of liquid. This takes about 20 minutes (maybe a bit more). Whisk in the vinegar, ketchup, liquid smoke, and sugar and bring back to a simmer. (We ended up using almost 3/4 cup of sugar at this point to balance out the vinegar. It was really strong. We could have just as easily used more ketchup to serve the same purpose.) At this point you can season it with more salt and pepper to taste.

5.   Toss shredded pork with about half of the sauce; add more sauce as needed to keep the meat moist. Serve with remaining sauce on soft buns with pickles. (Coleslaw would be good too.)

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