It’s Martin Luther King Day, which means my teacher husband has been home for the long weekend. It’s been great; we’ve hung out, run some errands, un-decorated from Christmas, and even had friends over for football yesterday. I will say, though, when he’s home for extra days we tend to eat a little bit differently. While I would be more than happy to eat all the veggie based foods, my hubby wants meat…all of the meat. So this weekend, to indulge his meat craving, I made this slow cooker pulled pork.
While I’ve made pulled pork in the past, it’s always been a bit of a cop-out. I’ll buy the meat, throw it in my crockpot with a bottle of Sweet Baby Ray’s, and call it a day. I was feeling ambitious this weekend, though. I was determined to make something different, something new. As I searched online for recipes, I found a handful that suggested the use of beer, or cola, or root beer as a cooking liquid. I’m not really a big soda person, though, and beer is full of gluten, so I knew that was out. In a stroke of genius, I thought, “Hey, what about hard cider? Pork with apples works…and BBQ sauce needs something sweet…maybe, just maybe, this will work.”
And you know what? It TOTALLY worked. Oh my goodness, this worked! The dry rub on the pork gives the meat the perfect amount of spice. It has a mild heat, but it’s balanced out by the sweetness of the cider. And since it cooked in the broth, it stayed perfectly moist (let’s be honest, there’s really nothing worse than dried out meat). On top of how freaking delicious it is, this is one of the simplest things to make. After pulling it out of the slow cooker, the meat was quite literally falling off the bone, and took next to no effort to shred.
Without a doubt, this pulled pork absolutely satisfied my husband’s meat craving. And I think it will continue to satisfy him throughout the week; this recipe made a TON of food. We ate it on Schar Ciabatta rolls on Saturday, then used leftovers on a BBQ Pizza last night. My husband and his friends heated up more and ate it on chips. We still have a whole bowl full in our fridge, just waiting to be eaten for leftovers throughout the week. Despite that, my husband has already requested that I make this again. So, yeah, I’m going to call this recipe a win!
Hard Cider Pulled Pork
- 4-5 lb bone in pork butt
- 2 tsp paprika
- 2 tsp chili powder
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 ½ tsp cumin
- ½ tsp dry mustard
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper (or less, if you want it to be milder)
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ – 1 tsp pepper
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 large onion, cut into 4 pieces
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 2 – 3 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 12oz bottle hard apple cider
- Combine the paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, mustard, cayenne, salt, pepper, and brown sugar in a small bowl. Using your hands, rub the spice mixture all over the pork butt (if you want to, you can let it sit like this for a while – an hour or two – to really let the flavors sink into the meat).
- Heat some vegetable oil in a large pan over medium heat. Brown the pork on all sides, until a crust has formed. Transfer the pork into a 5 – 6 quart slow cooker. Add the onion quarters to the slow cooker, around the pork.
- In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, stock, tomato paste, and brown sugar. Whisk to combine, so the tomato paste has dissolved into the liquid. Add that mixture and the hard cider to the slow cooker, cover, and cook on low for about 8 hours. (I was in a rush; I put it on high for 3 hours first, then changed it to low for about 3 more hours).
- Once the pork is done cooking, remove it from the crockpot and let it sit for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, strain the cooking liquid into a small saucepan and simmer until it is reduced by about half. Taste the sauce, and adjust the seasonings as necessary.
- After the pork has rested and is cool enough to handle, shred it using two forks. Combine the meat with 1 cup of the reduced cooking liquid, and reheat if desired.
- Serve with additional BBQ sauce, with either corn bread or on buns for sandwiches.
This is a recipe of my own creation, but I did refer to a handful of other recipes for inspiration: