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Red Cup Tailgates: Pulled Pork

Mmmmmm. Pork.

Saturday, we had a lot of time with the late game, so Whiskey Wednesday and I watched football all day and cooked an eight pound pork shoulder in a slow cooker. It was delicious. The beauty of cooking a dish like this is that you have meat for pretty much an entire week, and honestly, we're going to be bad people and have to throw some out when we leave for Memphis tomorrow morning.

I realize that people are very picky about the way their barbecue is prepared. I'm personally not. I grew up eating a Memphis style tomato-based obviously, and when we moved to North Carolina I figured I would hate the vinegar base here. I was wrong.  If it helps you wrap your head around this, it's not really barbecue. It uses some barbecue seasoning, but that's not a major element of the dish. As it turns out, any way of preparing a pork shoulder that doesn't involve masking the flavor of the pork turns out to be pretty good. I think it's because pork is inherently delicious.Who knew?

Before I talk about how to make it, let me point out that I realize it's not really a complete dish. I used the leftovers all week though in some pretty good ways. Mostly sandwiches, but here's a photo of some tacos I made. The yellow sauce is just deli mustard with some brown sugar and butter. If you want to call that South Carolina style, I won't argue with you. I actually hadn't had mustard-based sauce with barbecue before, but I really enjoyed it. The coleslaw is just a quick slaw I made with white wine vinegar, mayo, and some minor seasonings. I'd go through that, but it's super boring.


What You'll Need

A big slow cooker

A pork shoulder

A liter of Dr. Pepper

Some bourbon

Red wine vinegar

A sweet yellow onion, chopped

Barbecue seasoning (we used Magic, but hardcore people make their own)

How to Make It

First, you need to coat the shoulder in the dry rub. Really go crazy with it. You're not going to overseason it at this point. And really rub the stuff in. Don't be afraid to touch this raw meat. You've got to get that seasoning to stay on during the searing process (and also permeate the outer layer or something).

Once your shoulder is adequately coated, you've got to sear that thing on medium-high to high heat. You're just trying to get the outer layer of meat seared, so try to do this quickly. All it takes is an oil (I'd recommend canola since the smoke point is pretty high). Be sure to get all the sides (like I'm doing in this photo that's once again rotated incorrectly).

Searing Pork

Pour your Dr. Pepper and some bourbon (I don't have an exact measurement. Maybe... a quarter of a fifth? I'm terrible at estimating) into the slow cooker. Add chopped onions. Add red wine vinegar. Again, the amount doesn't matter all that much. You're not going to serve the meat swimming in the liquid.

Slow Cooker Pork

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that it was important to cook onions ahead of time, since otherwise they'll be too "onion-y" for a sandwich. This is not the case in a slow cooker. It doesn't matter here because it will cook for so long.

So you let this cook for 4 to 6 hours on high or 8 hours on low. Due to a malfunction (the outlet reset button popped out unbeknownst to us), we had to go the high route.

When we pulled the pork out 6 hours later and shredded it (in a Kitchen Aid stand mixer like pros), it looked like the picture in the header. We decided to add some liquid to the tray and broil the pork for 10 minutes or so on the low rack. This is how it looked after that.

Broiled Pork

We drained the braising liquid and served the pork on the tacos. It was honestly more tender than I expected, given that we had to do the quick method. And yeah: that's a lot of pork. If anyone who lives in the Research Triangle wants to eat pork that was prepared almost a week ago, please let me know.