Who doesn't love pulled pork? Crazy people, that's who.
Making pulled pork in the crockpot is such a no brainer, easy meal that requires almost no time, skill or finesse that I wonder why we don't eat it every single day to be honest. I have still never found THE ultimate pulled pork recipe so I am always tinkering and trying new sauces, new rubs and one day I will find that pulled pork love of my life and I will shout from the rooftops. The best thing about pulled pork is that there is almost no such thing as bad pulled pork. Even if you just throw a pork butt in the slow cooker with nothing but some salt, pepper and a slurp of chicken stock or soda pop or apple juice and then toss it with a good bottled sauce afterwards, it's going to be good enough that your family will still think you are a rock star.
That said, I almost never do that because that's not how I roll but you totally could do it and get away with it if you were so inclined. In this case, I had a bit of really delicious apple cider left and so I figured that along with some apple butter I also had kicking around would probably make a pretty tasty bbq sauce. Some people are very anti liquid smoke so feel free to leave that out but I think just a dribble of it gives it a hint of smokiness that is always missing when you do this in the crockpot. I have to tell you, this apple bbq sauced pork is coming pretty damned close to being "the" one and it's going into the regular rotation. If you like your sauce a bit spicy, feel free to throw in a squirt of hot sauce or a handful of fresh, chopped chili or even a pinch of chili flake.
We have also come to the realization that this is one time when you don't want fancy, artisanal buns that were lovingly hand formed by rustic french peasants. For a good pulled pork sandwich, you need soft, squishy old school hamburger buns so that the sauce can soak into them and make them all squishy and melt in your mouthy. Because I have to draw the line at full on white Wonderbread buns, much to poor Shack's dismay I am sure, I make myself feel better by buying whole wheat crap buns. A girl has to take a stand from time to time.
Apple Pulled Pork
1 600g pork shoulder blade roast
about 1/4 cup *spice rub (or as needed in order to completely coat the pork)
1/2 cup apple butter
1/4 cup apple cider
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 tbls worcestershire sauce
2 tbls tomato paste
1 tbls grainy dijon mustard
a dash, maybe a scant 1/4 tsp, of liquid smoke
pinch kosher salt and a few grinds of black pepper
1/4 cup chicken stock
Rinse and dry your pork roast the night before you are going to cook it. Using your hands, coat the entire roast in a layer of spice rub. You can use my recipe, something already prepared or one of your own recipes. Cover the roast and leave in the fridge overnight.
In the morning, mix all of the ingredients for the apple bbq sauce in the crockpot and make sure to taste it before you put the pork in just to make sure there is enough salt and to adjust for your own taste. It is going to taste totally different after a day of cooking and mingling with the pork juices and the rub but if it tastes like it needs more salt or is way too sweet and needs vinegar at this point, you will know it. l
Lay the pork roast on top, turn the heat on to low and walk away. I sprinkle a bit more kosher salt on the roast but I like my meat a bit salty and my rub isn't all that salty so that is also up to you.
Let it cook on low for about 8 to 10 hours - you can't really overcook it but you certainly want it to be falling apart so you can shred it with a couple of forks.
Transfer the cooked pork to a cutting board or big shallow bowl and tent with foil. If the remaining liquid in the slow cooker seems to watery, you can either turn the heat up to high and boil it down a bit or pour it out into a small pot and simmer it until it thickens up. Taste it and adjust the seasoning at this point. You can also add a squirt or two of your favourite hot sauce. I always make it pretty mild and just add some hot sauce to my sandwich so that The Kid will eat it.
When the sauce has thickened up, shred the pork with a couple of forks or with your fingers and throw the meat into the sauce. Mix it all together.
We usually eat this on a bun with some buttermilk coleslaw but I also don't mind it on it's own, with some buttery mashed potatoes or some rice.
1/4 cup paprika
1 tbls brown sugar
1 tbls white sugar
1 tbls salt
1 tbls celery salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 tsp cayenne
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp onion salt
1 tsp onion
2 tbls cumin
2 tbls oregano
2 tbls thyme
2 tbls chili powder