June 14, 2010

Pork and Voting

Later today, my town will have a special meeting to determine whether the people want to regionalize with Berkley and accept a bunch of help from the state to build a new, combined high school. I'm for the plan because our current high school building is falling apart and we're already effectively regionalized with Berkey, except that they have no say in how the school is run.

Also, nobody seems to have an alternate plan for the future of the high school that doesn't involve crossing our collective fingers and hoping that the state wasn't serious when it said that this was the only way they were going to provide money for a new school. Playing chicken with the state is not a plan. So.

On a more interesting and unrelated note: pulled pork! I don't have a smoker, so I have to settle for slow cooked pork. But, I assure you, I have now found the easiest and best slow cooker pulled pork.

Applewood Rub

Here's the simple recipe. Get some of the stuff pictured on the right: McCormick's Grill Mates Applewood Rub and rub it all over a 3-5 lb pork roast. Put it in a slow cooker. Add apple juice to roughly 2/3 the way up the side of the roast. Cook on low for 8-10 hours.

After the pork is cooked, remove it to a big glass bowl. Reserve some of the cooking broth. Pull out the bones from the meat and any hunks of fat you don't want to eat. Shred the pork and put it back in the slow cooker with a bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce. Add some of the reserved broth if the meat seems dry.

Serve it on buns, and you're done! I got the dry rub suggestion from the Al Dente blog here. Their version of the recipe suggests you bake it in the oven to finish. It does improve the flavor, but not necessarily enough for me to justify messing up another pan when I'm busy.

Needless to say, I have one of these cooking as I type this. The house is about to smell incredible.

Somersettians, see you at the special town meeting tonight. Whatever your political views, a sandwich is something everyone can agree on. (And we can argue endlessly over what type of sandwich, but at least that's fun.)

Posted by James at June 14, 2010 9:42 AM
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I usually do my slow-cooker pork with a Mexican recipe for pigs' feet. There's not enough meat on pigs' feet to be viable, but the recipe is still good for any other pork. There's vinegar and oregano and marjoram and some other stuff. Then the sauce has onions, cider vinegar, lime juice, salt, and dried habaneros (not much of the habaneros because heating them in vinegar REALLY activates their hotness). It's so good it makes me want to cry. Or maybe that's the peppers.

But for regular barbecue sauce, I like Carolina style. Most bbq sauces are very sweet. Carolina sauce is more vinegary. I guess I prefer a vinegary sauce for pork and chicken. (I like the sweeter stuff more on beef.)

But honestly, I never met a pulled pork recipe or sauce that I didn't love, so it's just a matter of degree.

Posted by: Julie at June 15, 2010 8:53 AM

I like most types of BBQ I've had, but I avoid slow-cooking with vinegar. I have found that it turns the meat too mushy. Slow-cooking breaks down the connective tissue, but slow-cooking in too much acid breaks down the protein as well, too quickly.

Cook in a low-acid liquid and you'll retain some of the character of the meat. Then I add whatever bbq flavor I'm in the mood for. The applewood rub mainly adds some of the smoked flavor you're missing by slow-cooking this. The previous recipe I posted (back in 2006?) was an attempt to add flavor to the pork while cooking (using onions and bbq sauce). I have reassessed that strategy! YMMV.

Posted by: James at June 15, 2010 11:06 AM

I've had some things turn to mush after marinating too long in straight vinegar or lemon juice, but I've never had trouble with this recipe. There's not much liquid in the pot to begin with, and the liquid is actually mostly water. There's only a few ounces of cider vinegar. (I didn't mention the water because I take it for granted.) It doesn't adversely affect the texture or flavor of the pork at all, though it may make it easier to shred.

The sauce doesn't go on till later, though I did once pour all of the sauce over the whole recipe right after cooking and it still wasn't a problem.

I've only ever used this recipe with pork. I don't know how chicken or beef would fare in the small amount of vinegar.

BTW, I checked the news on TV to see if they would mention the Somerset school meeting, but that ended up not being the biggest thing to happen in Somerset last night. :(

Posted by: Julie at June 15, 2010 12:13 PM

Woops. That's cider vinegar in the cooking liquid, but WHITE vinegar in the sauce - not cider vinegar as I said earlier.

Posted by: Julie at June 15, 2010 12:16 PM

I notice the difference in how the long strands of protein hold up, even with a 1/4 cup of vinegar. Omitting the vinegar is the only way I've ever gotten crockpot pulled pork to be similar in texture to the smoked variety. It's noticeable for me; it's possible other people aren't as picky.

The same thing is even more true for stew, probably because of smaller pieces of meat. Time is also a factor, of course.

Posted by: James at June 15, 2010 1:35 PM

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