As a heat wave covers nearly the entire U.S. now with blazing hot temperatures and high humidity, not a single person I know wants to heat up the kitchen, or stand over a fire smokin’ meat. This Slow-Cooker Carolina-Style Pulled Pork recipe is perfect for times like this, when it’s so darned hot. Then, when the weather cools off, the liquid that is used to cook this pork in the slow-cooker can be used as a marinade prior to grilling or smoking the meat for a more authentic barbecue. And! It’s only five ingredients.
I love my smoker, but I don’t love tending the fire on my smoker when it feels like entering a blast-furnace when I open the door to the house. All the same, it’s summer and we’re supposed to be enjoying our fill of delicious BBQ. This recipe for Slow-Cooker Pulled Pork is great to beat the heat, and while it’s not “authentic” barbecued meat, it’s close enough given this weather we’ve been having. Additionally, it’s a super recipe for those of you who don’t have smokers, but who want to enjoy fabulous pulled pork.
First a little bit about BBQ. I know people who aren’t from the South think we’re a bit manic about our BBQ, and they’d be right. Around here, “Q” is serious business. First:
- BBQ is not a verb
- A BBQ is not a cookout
- A BBQ is not a grill
BBQ is a way of preparing meat (this can be pork, lamb, beef), normally smoked. The style of the BBQ varies from region to region, sometimes even within the same State. For instance, over in West Tennessee, most barbecued meat is treated with a dry rub before cooking and served with a sauce on the side; here in East Tennessee, most barbecued meat is treated with a dry rub then slathered with a sauce as it it cooking.
John Shelton Reed is credited with saying, “Southern barbecue is the closest thing we have in the U.S. to Europe’s wines or cheeses; drive a hundred miles and the barbecue changes.” That is true for the meat, the method used, and even the sauce that is served with it. In the Carolinas, vinegar-based barbecue is King. North Carolina sauces are vinegar-based with some tomato; South Carolina sauces are vinegar-based with mustard. The thing both have in common, of course, being the vinegar.
That brings me to this recipe. Now, you’ll notice I didn’t call this recipe barbecue. The reason is the method I’m giving for cooking it is not “true Q.” The super thing about this recipe is, though, it can be used to make “true Q” if it is used as a marinade for the pork before it is cooked over smoke. And like I said, this is a beat-the-heat recipe for pulled pork, so I utilized my (very much underused) crock-pot.
Slow-cooking of this pork brings it closer to barbecue (since the slow-cooking method keeps the meat tender, juicy and falling off the bone), and the vinegar/hot sauce base brings the Carolina-Style flavour. By cooking this pork in the vinegar/hot sauce, that vinegar-based flavour seeps into every morsel of this meat while it simmers. Using your slow-cooker makes little to no heat in the kitchen. You can put this on to cook in the morning, leave it and come back to a no-heat-in-the-kitchen meal! Win/Win/Win!
I’m pretty picky when I pull my pork, no matter how I’ve cooked it. I let it cool so I can pull it by hand; doing that I am able to remove all of the fat, gristle, veins and membranes that are in the meat. You don’t have to be that particular, if you don’t want to do so. Shredding it with two forks works just fine.
This meat freezes really well! So, you can cook up a big bunch and freeze some for later. I’ll have a “leftovers” recipe coming up soon for a different way to serve it.
I used a five pound pork shoulder…pork butt works nicely too. As I said, it’s only five ingredients and here they are:
- Pork Roast
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Tabasco sauce (or any similar hot sauce)
It could not be simpler and it is just delicious! Without a doubt, it is a way to enjoy pulled pork while not sweltering in the heat outside, or heating up your kitchen. I hope you’ll try it.
p.s.: I served ours with my BBQ Sauce that has a tomato/vinegar base, and which I always keep on hand in the refrigerator. Give it a try if you would like to make your own sauce.
- 5 pound Pork Shoulder (or butt) Roast
- 4 cups apple cider vinegar
- 4 cups hot water
- ½ cup Tabasco (or other similar hot sauce-Frank's would be good too)
- ½ cup sugar
- Place the pork in the crock-pot, fat side up.
- In a large bowl, combine all the remaining ingredients and stir until the sugar is dissolved.
- Pour the liquid over the pork in the crock-pot (if the liquid doesn't cover the pork completely, add a bit more water).
- Cover and cook on high for 4-5 hours (mine took 5) or until the meat pulls away from the bone easily (cooking on low, I'm guessing this would take 8-9 hours and you really can't overcook this meat).
- Remove from the liquid and allow to cool a bit. Using two forks, or your fingers, pull long shreds of the meat, discarding the fat.
- Serve with your favourite sauce.