Slow cooker pulled pork

Meat cuts like pork butt always call my name at the butcher counter because they are so darn cheap and so easy to prepare. Last week I had apples and pork on the brain, and it was also getting really chilly all of a sudden, so I hauled out (and scrubbed off) the slow cooker and got to work.

(A bum bottle, sadly. Worked fine as cooking liquid but wasn’t drinkable. Boo!)

I took the elastic waistband off the pork and trimmed off the bigger chunks of fat–this is a really fatty cut, so I also had to skim off fat from the cooking liquid at the end.

I patted the pork dry and seasoned it with salt and pepper, then seared it well on all sides and put it in the pot.

Along for the ride were a couple red and yellow onions.

I used a couple glugs of chicken broth and some of the cider for my liquid, and set the slow cooker on low for 7 hours. After six or so I came back and added in my apples, cut in quarters and cored.

At dinner time I pulled out the meat and apples and onions and drained the liquid into a gravy strainer to separate out some of the fat. I sort of messed up, mangling the cooked apples in with the onions, so instead of just mushing up the apples as sauce (which would have been great) I mixed the two together. That was fine but definitely diluted the apple flavor. I added a little cider vinegar to sharpen it up, and more salt and pepper.

I tried to get the extra fat off the meat, then I put it back in the pot with the liquid and pulled it apart with a couple forks.

We had the apple/onion sauce and chard on the side.

Three pounds of pork yielded a mountain of meat, and I have to admit it was sort of bland. I need to dissect how Chipotle makes their carnitas so flavorful. Ben took leftovers for two lunches, and we made flatbread pizzas with some more. I froze the rest for future use. For the flatbreads I drained the liquid off the meat and crisped it up in a pan, then topped garlic naan with the meat and some shredded cheese.

Once they were baked I put a little arugula salad on top.

I’m going to try cooking chicken legs–another extra-economical cut–tonight. Wish me luck! As long-time readers know, I loathe cooking chicken.

7 thoughts on “Slow cooker pulled pork”

  1. Having done this several times with varying results, I can offer the following to combat blandness: SALT SALT SALT and cracked pepper, more than you think you need. I know it’s healthier to trim off the fat but leave on as much as you can stomach, it really does make a difference. Try cooking in chicken broth instead. Once I got really weird results and ended up spreading the pulled pork on a baking sheet with garlic, chile and cinnamon (think I emailed you about this) and putting it in the oven until it crisped up. THAT was good.
    That’s all I got.
    Looks YUM! I was in the mood to try this the other day again and WF was totally out of everything pork? It was like a part of me died that day.

  2. All useful tips! I thought of you as I pulled the pork; you are my own Queen of Carnitas.

    “WF was totally out of everything pork” is one of the saddest things I’ve ever read. Gah.

  3. Hah, this is kind of funny, because I made a slow cooker pork roast yesterday and thought “this recipe is like something Kate would make!” (Apples -quartered, sliced garlic, 2cups cider, pork roast smothered in dijon mustard.) And the leftovers I shredded and added some leftover bbq sauce to, and Dave is eating pulled pork sandwiches for lunch with it. I feel validated now.

  4. Yeah, in retrospect I think a few cloves of garlic would have made a huge difference. This was just all too sweet–pork is pretty sweet, plus cooked onions and apples… Dijon’s a great idea.

  5. i love reading your blog even when its about stuff i can’t eat.

    i have slow cooker envy. perhaps i should invest in one.


  6. I’ve got to agree about the garlic, but that may be because it’s a default seasoning for me. And about chicken legs: stay strong! You can do it! Think of the deliciousness… and so on.

  7. This week I used my crock pot for the first time this season and also did a pork butt! I cooked the pork on low for 8 hours covered in rootbeer and then made the best pulled pork sandwiches ever! Looking forward to the chicken slowcooker recipe.

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