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Sure, slow-cooked pulled pork makes perfect sandwiches, especially when paired with tangy barbecue sauce and crunchy coleslaw. But sandwiches are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to uses for this delicious meat. Pulled pork can also serve as the perfect filling for tacos or enchiladas, a topping for nachos, a savory stir-in for mac and cheese, or protein for fried rice. You can even spread it on top of your pizza, use it to liven up a salad, or add it to a pot of chili.
Not only is pulled pork versatile, it’s also incredibly easy to make. All you need to do is slowly cook a tough cut of pork at a low temperature until it yields tender, fall-off-the-bone meat. Traditionalists prefer to use a smoker to prepare their meat, but if you don’t have one, your oven or a crockpot will work just as well.
Time is the most important ingredient if you want perfect, fork-tender pulled pork, but you also want to get the seasonings right. Some cooks go for an unseasoned version so they can use the cooked meat in a wider variety of dishes. Otherwise, typical barbecue ingredients like sugar, chili powder, cumin, and paprika are popular. But you can also make a herbed pulled pork with oregano and thyme or an Asian twist with a Chinese five-spice powder, according to The Kitchn.
As with many popular dishes, the question of what makes the best pulled pork tends to spark intense debate, and fanatics will likely be arguing the issue until the end of time. But if you’re new to cooking pulled pork, you could do worse than starting out with this recipe from Chowhound, which produces tasty, tender meat you can use for sandwiches and just about anything else.
Pulled Pork Recipe
Making mouth-watering pulled pork is easy with this recipe from Chowhound, which serves 6. The preparation is incredibly easy — just rub a 4½- to 5-pound pork shoulder with a mix of sugar, chili powder, salt, cumin, and cinnamon, then cook in the crockpot for 8 to 10 hours with some onions, garlic, and stock. The result is tender, juicy meat that’s perfect for sandwiches, tacos, nachos, and other meals.
- 2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
- 4 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 cup chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon packed dark brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 (4½- to 5-pound) boneless or bone-in pork shoulder (also known as pork butt), twine or netting removed
- 2 cups barbecue sauce (optional)
Directions: Place the onions and garlic in an even layer in the slow cooker and add the stock or broth. Combine the sugar, chili powder, measured salt, cumin, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Pat the pork dry with paper towels, then rub the spice mixture all over the pork and place the meat on top of the onions and garlic. Cover and cook until the pork is fork tender, about 6 to 8 hours on high or 8 to 10 hours on low.
Turn off the slow cooker and remove the pork to a cutting board. Set a fine-mesh strainer over a medium heatproof bowl. Pour the onion mixture from the slow cooker through the strainer and return the solids to the slow cooker. Set the strained liquid aside.
If the pork has a bone, remove and discard. Using two forks, shred the meat into bite-size pieces, discarding any large pieces of fat. Return the shredded meat to the slow cooker, add the barbecue sauce, if using, and mix to combine. If you’re not using barbecue sauce, use a spoon to skim and discard the fat from the surface of the strained cooking liquid, and then add ¼ cup of the liquid at a time to the slow cooker until the pork is just moistened. Taste and season with salt as needed. Serve.
You can use either boneless or bone-in pork shoulder for this recipe. If you use the latter cut, consider setting aside the bone after cooking to use for a pork stock or broth for ramen.
Pork shoulder is also sometimes labeled as pork butt or Boston butt, in case you’re having trouble finding the former in your local grocery store. (Squeamish cooks can relax. Despite sometimes being called a “butt” the meat is actually is from the front the pig, not the rear end, Modern Farmer explained.)
If you have leftover pulled pork, know the cooked meat freezes well. Barbecue sauce is optional in this recipe. If adding it, use your favorite store-bought variety or make your own. This highly rated Food Network recipe makes 3½ cups, and would be the perfect accompaniment to pulled pork sandwiches.