You can take the girl out of the South, but you can’t take her love of barbecue away. Barbecue fever runs in my family. My Uncle Bo told me the story of my grandfather and pulled pork. My grandfather was an engineer on the railroad in Memphis, Tennessee WAY back in the day. He didn’t have a car, but when he got paid every Friday he would take the bus to pay his bills in person and then would go to Leonard’s Barbecue and treat himself to a pulled pork sandwich and a beer. Seems like a big so what, but with a large family to feed, cloth and educate it was a real luxury for him. The best gift to us all is that he passed his love of pulled pork down to his family
When people talk about barbecue they usually talk about barbecued ribs. Now, don’t get me wrong, I like ribs just as much as the next guy, but they really aren’t that hard to cook. Pulled pork, on the other hand, is a whole different thing. Real pit masters spend years perfecting their rubs, sauce and technique to master cooking a pork butt to become a beautiful pile of mouth watering pulled pork. And to really do it the authentic way, you need a smoker that burns wood where the pork butt can be cooked low and slow to get that delicious, deep smokey flavor.
I will admit, I have been a little intimidated to cook a pork butt. First of all, I’m no pit master and secondly, I don’t have a smoker. So I considered myself at a real disadvantage. But, being a Type A personality, I was going to find a way to make pulled pork my way. One day I was looking around in Williams Sonoma and I saw a jar of Pulled Pork Starter to use in the slow cooker! What a great idea – it was worth a try.
Off to the store to buy a 5 lb. pork butt with the bone in. Every barbecue show I have watched always stresses that the bone in pork butt delivers better flavor in the final product. Next was to develop my own version of a rub – a blend of toasted spices, garlic powder, chili powder, dry mustard and brown sugar. After I applied the dry rub to the pork butt, I then browned it on all sides and put it in the slow cooker, poured the Pull Pork Starter around it and set the slow cooker to low for 9 hours. Here is a little “how to” video shot by my friend and videographer, Lorin Shamos.
I know it is a cardinal sin to open a slow cooker during the cooking process, but it is necessary because you need to turn the pork butt over since the Pulled Pork Starter doesn’t cover the meat entirely. I know 9 hours seems like a long time, but your patience will be rewarded. What I like to do is pull the pork apart into nice size chunks and shred it a little or you can chop it (that is what is usually done for Memphis style pulled pork sandwiches). I always save some of the cooking liquid to moisten the meat before serving. You can either serve it piled high on bun, topped with your favorite barbecue sauce and some tasty Green Onion Slaw or just by itself with barbecue sauce and your favorite sides. Now that’s some good eats!
Pulled Pork The Slow Way
2 tsp whole coriander seeds
2 tsp whole cumin seeds
2 tsp black peppercorns
3 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp dry mustard powder
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp chile powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp paprika
4 tbs dark brown sugar
2 tbsp canola oil
4 1/2 to 5 lb. pork butt (shoulder), bone in
1 jar Williams-Sonoma Pulled Pork Starter
Your favorite barbecue sauce (I like Jack Daniels or Stubbs)
For the spice rub, in a small, dry skillet over medium-low heat, toast the coriander, cumin and peppercorns until fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from skillet immediately and using a spice grinder or a food processor, grind the toasted spices into a fine powder. Transfer to a bowl and mix with salt, dry mustard, garlic powder, chile powder, cayenne pepper, paprika and brown sugar. You will have enough left over for your next pork butt.
Wash a dry the pork butt well and rub meat with a generous amount of the spice rub making sure all sides are covered. If you have time, let the meat rest for an hour or two at room temperature, or refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
Heat a large skillet (or the insert in your slow cooker if it is removable and can be used on the stove top) with about 2 tbsp of canola oil and heat to medium-high. Place the meat in the hot skillet and brown well on all sides, about 2 – 3 minutes per side until completely browned. Remove from the skillet and place in slow cooker. If you are using the slow cooker insert to cook the meat, remove the meat to a plate, and pour out all of the cooking oil and wipe out the insert so there are no burned spices left in the slow cooker then place in the slow cooker. Once the meat is in the slow cooker, pour the Pulled Pork Starter around the meat (it will not cover the meat) and then place the cover on the slow cooker and turn on to low setting for 9 hours. After about 6 hours turn the meat over to let the other side cook in the Pulled Pork Starter liquid. When the cooking time has been completed, remove the meat and shred or chop, which ever you like. Reserve some of the cooking juice to moisten the meat before serving. Pile the moistened pulled pork on a hamburger bun, top with barbecue sauce and Green Onion Slaw and get ready to go to barbecue heaven!
1 cup coarsely chopped green onions, white and green parts
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
2 Serrano chilies
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/2 cup canola oil
Salt and pepper
1 small head purple cabbage, finely shredded
1 small head Napa cabbage, finely shredded
1/2 green and red bell pepper thinly sliced
1/2 cup julianed carrots
1/2 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
2 teaspoons poppy seeds
1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves (depending on you liking)
To make the dressing for the slaw, combine the green onions, vinegar, honey, chilies, mayonnaise, oil and salt and pepper to taste in food processor and blend until emulsified.
Combine the cabbages, bell peppers, carrots, red onions and poppy seeds in a large bowl, add the dressing (you may have more dressing than is needed so just add enough to coat and add more if needed) and stir until combined. Fold in the cilantro and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes.