Carolina Style Pulled Pork in the Crock Pot

I am not from the south, I don’t have a smoker on the back deck of my 3rd story condo, and I can’t say I’ve ever bought a pork butt before.  So, I’m not going to try to pretend like this is the best pulled pork anyone from the south (or New England for that matter) will ever make or eat.  However, this city girl did get a crock pot for my birthday last week and I learned about this fantastic product called “Liquid Smoke”, and I will say the two together produced a respectable pulled pork sandwich that was tender and juicy.

Please note this recipe is for Carolina-style BBQ sauce, which is vinegar based.  So don’t get your hopes up for that dark red, thick, BBQ sauce because well, I’m not a fan.

Since I’ve never made pulled pork before I did some googling and I combined some of the ideas I got from reading many different recipes but my main inspiration came from here.  I will say for those of you who like spice and heat (like me) this had very little.  Next time I think I would add some hot sauce to the mixture for an extra zing.

Ingredients

  • 1 large sweet onion, quartered
  • 4 T brown sugar
  • 1/3 c red wine vinegar
  • 1 4lb pork butt
  • 1 T liquid smoke  
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 ½ t crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 T mustard (I used Trader Joes whole grain mustard because I didn’t have the powder)
  • Garlic powder for seasoning
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Paprika
  • Fresh cracked sea salt and black pepper

Instructions

  • I bought a pork butt from Whole Foods and was surprised at how inexpensive it is. After opening it up, I opted to trim a lot of the fat off simply because I don’t like fatty meat. Either way, be sure to pat it dry before adding the rub.
  • Blend brown sugar, paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper and rub over the entire roast. Place in the fridge over night if possible.
  • Combine vinegar, worcestershire sauce, red pepper flakes, sugar, mustard, garlic and cayenne pepper and mix well. Place in a bowl and refrigerate over night or for at least a few hours so the flavors get a chance to marry.
  • When you are ready, put your crock pot on low heat and set for 9 hours. Put onions in bottom of crock pot.
  • Place roast in crock pot on top of the onions. Drizzle liquid smoke over roast.
  • Drizzle about 1/3 of liquid vinegar mixture over roast. Cover and refrigerate remaining mixture for later.
  • Cook roast on low for 8-10 hours. I cooked my 4 lb roast from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and put it on warm for about 30 minutes because I could see it was already falling apart.
  • When ready to eat, remove meat and onions from the pot and shred the meat in a bowl.  Reserve the onions separately for a topping on your sandwich. Though sweet, I thought they were soggy and unappealing but some of my guests quite enjoyed them.
  • Add juice from the fridge to the crock pot and put on high until the liquid becomes warm. Using a cheese cloth or a tight strainer, strain the juice so to remove the extra mustard seed and pork fat.  Add a few spoonfuls of liquid to the bowl of pulled pork and reserve the rest to place on the table.
  • Serve plain, over beans and rice  or like we did, on a fresh roll topped with delicious cole slaw, a side of black beans and chips with guacamole on the side.

Note: If you have a lot of leftover liquid like I did, you can pour the liquid in ice cube trays and add them in sauces or other meat dishes you make later on!

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