PULLED PORK, SLOW-COOKER VERSION

You know you’ve been blogging for too long when you’ve got not one, not two, but three recipes for pulled pork… This one inaugurates our latest acquisition, a crock pot… I know, as if I needed another cooking gadget. But, I used to have one and when we moved four years ago I gave it away. Ever since that day, for reasons that I cannot quite comprehend, the most enticing recipes using slow-cookers kept reaching me. I finally could not take it anymore, this baby was on sale at our grocery store and that was the end of my resolve.  This version of pulled pork was recommended by our post doc, who makes it regularly. She is one impressive, hard-working scientist, awesome runner (two marathons and countless half-marathons under her belt), and great cook. Yeah, she’s got it all…  I confess that her praise of the crock pot was the final push for me to get it. This is one of her and her husband’s favorite recipes, and I can see why: the meat turned out melt in your mouth delicious, moist, with the right amount of spice and soooo easy to put together! As a bonus, clean up is a breeze: the surface basically cleans itself with no need for elbow grease. I am sold. Stay tuned for more adventures in the slow-cooking world…

Crockpot Pulled Pork2

 

PULLED PORK IN A CROCK POT
(from B.N.)

3 tablespoons paprika
1 to 2 tablespoons salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
1/2 to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ cup honey (I used 1/4 cup)
¼ cup red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, peeled and cut in half
3 ½ pounds pork shoulder, cut in half

In a medium size mixing bowl, mix together the first six ingredients (all of the spices) with a fork. Pour in the honey, vinegar, and olive oil and stir to form a paste. Place the onion in the bottom of the slow cooker. Top it with the 2 pieces of pork and then pour the honey paste over all sides of the pork pieces. It’s okay if some of it (or a lot of it) just drips down to the bottom.

Turn the slow cooker on to low and cook for 7 to 8 hours or until the meat is tender enough to be easily shredded with a fork. Serve warm with fixings like homemade cole slaw and cornbread, if so desired.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

pulledporkcomposite

There is really something to be said for adding ingredients to a crock pot and coming back hours later to a delicious and effortless dinner. Some cuts of meat will work better than others, though. I think the key to mastering the slow cooker is not pushing its limits. If you add boneless chicken breasts to it and cook them on high for five hours, you’ll have dry, tasteless meat on your plate.  Pork butt (or shoulder) is a nice match for the slow cooker because it has so much fat all through the meat, it will never get dry.   I’ve been trying to perfect my favorite recipe for chicken thighs using the crock pot, but haven’t found the holy grail yet. I am getting close, though.  You just wait!

served

As to this pulled pork, it was perfect!  I like to enjoy mine in a pretty low-carb way, with guacamole and queso fresco crumbled on top, maybe a leaf of lettuce to wrap it up. Messy but tasty.  Phil prefers to have his with some rice or corn tortillas. Do as you please.  Of course the recipe makes a lot of pulled pork, so it is a great option for dinner parties, but I like to get a couple of dinners out of it, then freeze what’s left.

One more thing: there will be a lot of liquid inside the crock pot at the end of cooking.  I strain it, de-grease it, and  pour most of it over the shredded meat. You can save some of the sauce and freeze for later.

ONE YEAR AGO: The Pie of the Century

TWO YEARS AGO: Bon Bon Chicken

THREE YEARS AGO: Leaving on a Jet Plane

FOUR YEARS AGO: A Pearfect Drink

FIVE YEARS AGO: Ming Tsai Under Pressure

SIX YEARS AGO: Paris, je t’aime!

PULLING UNDER PRESSURE

Are you afraid of the pressure cooker? Are you so terrified that you don’t even own one and the thought of that thing in your kitchen gives you nightmares? I am here to help you out. As 99.99% of Brazilians, I grew up used to its noise a couple of times per week, making sure we never ran out of black beans, a staple in any Brazilian kitchen. Looking back, I am forced to admit that my Mom’s pressure cooker was scary. That thing had zero safety features and relied on the experience (and perhaps a little luck) of the user not to blow up. A wimpy-looking closing mechanism, a gasket that would definitely be worn out in a few months, and a tiny valve that danced the dance of the steam on top, but seemed ready to fly off any second. Basically, Mom’s pressure cooker was like a bomb in waiting. But, apart from one incident in which black beans tainted the kitchen’s ceiling, nothing serious ever happened.  Having said all that, today’s pressure cookers have absolutely nothing to do with the ones from my past. They have safety mechanisms in place that prevent building excessive pressure, and the lid simply will not open unless the pressure in versus out is equalized.  I don’t even hesitate to grab mine whenever I want to make black beans, but truth is, they are incredibly useful to cook many types of food, from soups to sauces, from meat to grains, veggies, and even desserts! But, let’s start with a favorite recipe of mine, Pulled Pork. An American classic made in a classic Brazilian cooking vessel, the one and only pressure cooker!

Pressure Cooker Pulled Pork22

PRESSURE COOKER PULLED PORK
(from The Bewitching Kitchen)

5 pounds boneless pork shoulder cut into large chunks
water
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon dried Mexican oregano
1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper flakes
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 cup apple cider

Place the chunks of meat in the pressure cooker, add water to just barely cover them, then add the bay leaves, and all other ingredients. Mix gently to dissolve the salt and incorporate the apple cider.

Close the pressure cooker and turn the heat on high until it builds pressure, then lower the heat and cook it for 45 minutes.  When the time is up, turn the heat off and allow the pressure cooker to come down naturally, it should take about 15 minutes, maybe a little less.

Open the pan once the pressure is equalized, and transfer the meat carefully to a baking dish. It will be very tender. You can save the cooking liquid, put it in the fridge to make it easier to remove the layer of fat that will form, using it as a base for sauce.

Shred the meat with two forks, discarding any fatty pieces or gristle. You can use the meat right away or save it for several days in the fridge.  When ready to use, you can saute it in olive or coconut oil to crisp up the edges, or warm it up gently in a pan and then spread the pulled meat on a layer and run it under the broiler (my favorite method).   Serve with tortillas, or over steamed rice and black beans, incorporate in sauces, improvise a Tex-Mex lasagna with it…  and…

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

compositepulled

A word about pressure levels:  these days you can find regular pressure cookers and also electric ones. Many models will have two levels of pressure, the lowest around 6 psi (pounds per square inch), the highest from 13 to 15 psi. My pressure cooker delivers a single, powerful level of pressure of 15 psi. If yours doesn’t reach this level simply cook the meat 5 minutes longer. I have no experience with electric pressure cookers, but from what I see around they require longer times in general, perhaps 30% or even longer cooking times.  Use the specifications provided in the instruction booklet you have somewhere, or let google do the research for you…

Pulled pork is definitely one of our favorite meals, I’ve made it many, many times, as Phil’s kids also used to love it. My default recipe is in the blog and it is fantastic. However, I must say this one pleased me even more!  Something about the moisture retained by the meat cooked under pressure, and the way the seasoning is more uniformly present instead of concentrated on the charred surface made this dish a complete winner in my book…  The meat won’t look gorgeous as it comes out of the pressure cooker, so don’t be discouraged when you open the pan. Trust me on this. Get the meat out very gently, pull it and try a little piece… even without browning on a pan or under a broiler you will be amazed by how wonderful it is.

I like to serve mine over Romaine lettuce leaves, a bit of guacamole, shredded Queso fresco…

servedSally


But, of course, you can opt for a more authentic presentation that will include corn tortillas, and a serving of refried beans on the side…  It’s all good!

servedPEK


And you know what I love the most? Leftovers for lunch, so easy to put together… a quick saute of the meat, some tomatillo salsa, half an avocado, Queso fresco for good measure, and a nice sprinkle of the world’s best hot sauce, Sriracha!  Tell me, isn’t this a great lunch?

leftovers

I hope I convinced you to lose your fear of pressure cooking.  Pork shoulder is very forgiving and probably one of the best types of meat to inaugurate your pressure cooking adventures.  Second best type? My vote goes for chicken thighs.  Stay tuned, I’ve got a nice curry coming up sometime soon. Well, you know… soon enough.

😉

before I leave you, a little picture of me and Mom, who doesn’t cook anymore, but I am sure remembers fondly the days in which she prepared the best black beans in the known universe for her family! As this post is published, I’ll be almost leaving Brazil to fly back home…

IMG_1537

ONE YEAR AGO: Cooking Sous-vide: Two takes on Chicken Thighs

TWO YEARS AGO: Miso Soup: A Japanese Classic

THREE YEARS AGO: On my desk

FOUR YEARS AGO: A must-make veggie puree

FIVE YEARS AGO: Vegetarian Lasagna

SIX YEARS AGO:  Brazilian Pão de Queijo

CROWD PLEASING PULLED PORK

Suppose you´re facing the task of feeding a lot of people, but you´re short on time and low on cash. With this recipe you´ll have no worries, and everyone´ll love the moist, melt-in-your-mouth meat, with bits of tangy, crispy skin to please the palate!

PULLED PORK
(adapted from Gretchen´s and Mean Chef’s recipes)

1 whole pork butt, bone-in

for the dry rub
1/8 cup black pepper
1/4 cup paprika (I used smoked paprika)
1/4 cup turbinado sugar (or brown sugar)
2 tablespoons salt
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Mix all the ingredients (except the meat)  in a bowl to prepare the dry rub (it´s a good idea to wear gloves).

Rub the pork all over with half of the dry rub, then place it in a plastic bag and refrigerate overnight. In the morning remove the pork from the bag and cover it with the rest of the spice mixture. If possible, let it sit at room temperature for a couple of hours, if not just place it in a 275F oven, uncovered on a rack in a roasting pan.

Roast until tender, almost falling apart. Depending on the size, it will take 7 – 9 hours. Longer will not hurt it; the desired internal temperature is 200F.

Pull the pork into pieces with forks, allowing some bits to fall on the floor to the delight of your dogs.

Serve the meat over sandwich buns with the sauce of your choice, or follow my “Brazilian variation”:  transfer the pulled meat to a clean baking dish.  Add 1 cup of water to the roasting pan and place it over the stove-top burner on medium heat to dissolve the bits of pork goodness that stuck to it during the long, slow roasting.  Strain it over a pyrex cup and allow the fat to rise to the top, then discard it.  Use the liquid to moisten the pulled meat, squeeze fresh lemon juice all over, cover with aluminum foil and place in a 350F oven for 20 minutes before serving over rice and beans.  (You can leave it in the oven for longer, it only gets better).

ENJOY!

This recipe fits quite well in the ¨Perfect Sunday Dinner¨ category…

for comments and additional photos, jump to next page