Thursday, February 20, 2014

The best slow cooker pulled pork & homemade BBQ sauce

I've got a real head-scratcher for you today.  Something that will definitely get the wheels in your head spinning... and maybe think I'm a little bit weird.

Before I ask it, I want to say that I love my life and am incredibly grateful for all of the blessings and wonderful people in it and wouldn't change a thing.

Now that that's on the table, here goes: have you ever thought about what your life would be like with a curse?  And, specifically, what that curse would be?  I swear I don't walk around every day, waiting for the sky to fall.  There's a reason for my peculiar train of thought.

For the past three days, I've dealing with a little congestion.  I wouldn't call it a full-blown cold just yet (or ever -- mind over matter); it's merely an annoyance.  An annoyance because I can't smell or taste a gosh darn thing, which is basically the worst thing in the world.

Clearly, I'm being melodramatic because there are many worse things than not being able to taste food.  But right now and relatively speaking, this is the worst fate imaginable.  The worst!

Especially when I chose to give my slow cooker a major workout this week.  There are few things better than coming home to a heavenly-smelling (and already cooked) dinner.  Matt says it's been magical; I assume it would be, too.  I made this hearty white bean and kielbasa stew, which I know to be delicious from previous experience.  And then I made my favorite slow cooker dish of all-time: BBQ pulled pork.

I've been making pulled pork in the slow cooker for years but never thought to write about it because the recipe is continually evolving, being tweaked and refined each time I make it.  The physical recipe card isn't actually a card, but rather two sheets of folded and worn computer paper with enough red markings to remind you of the worst paper you ever submitted in school.  However, in this case, all of those scribbles add up to one seriously tasty dish!

This time around, I know I hit the mark because Matt claimed it was the best pulled pork he's ever had.  And, when I could finally taste it, I totally agreed.  (Mark your calendar, dear husband.)  Sweet, spicy, and just the right amount of heat.  The key is to make the sauce from scratch; it's just as easy as using a bottled BBQ sauce but has such a deeper and richer flavor!

Serve a heaping scoop of this juicy pulled pork on top of a toasted bun.  Or, step outside of the box bun and try it in tortillas with onions and melted cheese or on top of a pizza or... well, I'll stop myself so I can share another idea with you very soon.

Until then, dust off the Crock Pot and make this right now, please.  And, with every bite, be thankful for your taste buds!

One year ago: Slow cooker chana masala
Three years ago: Rosemary chicken burgers with garlic aioli
Four years ago: Double chocolate cookies

Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork
-makes 6 servings

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 Tablespoon paprika
4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup molasses
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 (14 ounce) can reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 3/4 - 2 pounds boneless pork (I used pork loin chops, but a shoulder/butt roast works, too)
6 hamburger buns or rolls, for serving

In a small bowl, whisk together all ingredients up through and including cayenne.  In the bowl of a slow cooker, arrange pork chops or roast.  Pour seasoning mixture over pork and toss to coat.  Add broth.  Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours.

Using tongs or slotted spoon, remove cooked pork to a plate.  Reserve 1/2 cup of cooking liquid from slow cooker and set aside.  Pour remaining cooking liquid into a small saucepan over medium high heat.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes, whisking occasionally, until volume is reduced to roughly 1/4 of its original volume and mixture has thickened.  Remove from heat and allow to cool and thicken slightly.

Using forks, shred pork and return to bowl of slow cooker on "warm" setting.  Add reserved 1/2 cup of cooking liquid, stir to combine and cover until ready to serve. Split and toast buns, if desired, and top each with pulled pork and sauce.  Enjoy!

Pulled pork and sauce can be covered and refrigerated, separately, for up to 5 days.


  1. This looks uh-maze-eeeng!!! I would have never thought to make my own BBQ sauce but I just might do it to try this out. Thanks for sharing.

    1. It's so easy to do but I must warn you -- once you try the homemade stuff, it's tough to go back to the bottled variety!

    2. EZ stuff I can do. If it takes more than a few minutes for food prep or I have to go to the store and buy a dozen more ingredients-then I'm out. I will prob try this Sunday. Thank you for sharing