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Saucy BBQ Crock Pot Pulled Pork

It is a new year and so it is time for a new pulled pork recipe. If you read this blog from time to time, you can't help but notice that we like our pork. Although we love all parts of the glorious pig, we do really like our pork shoulder. Some favourites have been an apple pulled pork, a Korean pulled pork, and  a second Korean pulled pork, we have done the momofuku pulled pork in the oven with nothing but tons of salt and brown sugar and make pork for tacos all the time like these carnitas. A pork shoulder jumps into the crock pot at least a couple times a month in the winter time and although I can't recall the last time we met one we didn't like immensely, I have been tinkering with something a bit more classic to make The Kid happy. Shack  makes a mustard mop that is out of this world (and I still can't get the recipe out of him because he is not a nice man) but I thought it would be good to come up with a bbq sauce version too. The Kid loves BBQ sauce and he goes through more Bulls-Eye than I care to admit (he doesn't like ketchup so it's just Bullseye and mustard for him as far as condiments go - mustard for fries, I kid you not)  and I would really like to come up with a homemade sauce that might start to replace the Bulls-Eye but up until, this has completely eluded me.

Nothing makes me crazier than biting into what should be a perfectly good pulled pork sandwich and finding it so sweet that it could pass for dessert. Now, I don't mind a bit of sweet to balance out a nice bit of vinegary twang but it shouldn't be the prevailing taste.  It can't be super thick either for mixing in with the meat so it's been a bit of work to get it where I think it's just right. The only thing I would say is that if you want it kind of hot and spicy you can up the amount of chipotle powder or add some hot dried chilis to the cooking liquid instead of the ancho and pasilla. I was going for something that was packed with flavour but would appeal to all the people I have to feed and not all of us love the heat element. If I were to make this sauce without the pork cooking liquid, I would probably just soak the dried chilis in some simmering chicken stock until they were soft and then puree it and use that. I will try that next and report back.

Saucy BBQ Crock Pot Pulled Pork

Ingredients for the pork:

1.7 kg pork shoulder picnic roast, bone in
1 tbls brown sugar
1 tbls chili powder
1 tsp chipotle powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp kosher salt
1 onion, sliced
1 stalk celery, halved lenghtwise and then each half cut into three sticks
3 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
1 dry pasilla chili
1 dry ancho chili
1 cup chicken stock

BBQ sauce:

1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 shallot, minced
1/4 cup ketchup
3/4 cup tomato puree
1 cup reduced cooking liquid
2 tbls of cider vinegar
4 tbls brown sugar
1 tbls honey mustard
1 tsp chipotle powder
1 tbls molasses
1/4 tsp lime juice
1/2 tsp worchestershire sauce


Mix together the brown sugar, chili powder, chipotle powder, cumin and kosher salt and rub that all over your pork shoulder. You can do this the night before if you can but it's fine if you do right before you put it in the crock pot too - it's just a tiny bitter bit better to let it sit overnight in the fridge if you can.
Line the bottom of the crockpot with the onion and celery sticks, scatter the garlic on top and pour in the chicken stock. Take both of your dry chilies and open them up, discard the seeds and the stem and throw those in there too, making sure they are submerged in the stock before you lay your rubbed pork shoulder on top of it. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours (if you need to cook it ten hours that is fine too but it must cook at least 8)

When it's done, remove the pork to a big bowl, let it cool a bit before you start discarding the big chunks of fat and any bone.

Strain the cooking liquid into a big glass vessel, pushing on the solids with a big spoon to get all the juices out of it ( i like to use glass so that I can clearly see where the fat is sitting) and let it sit for a couple of minutes before you start removing the fat that rises to the top. If you make it the day before, you can skip this part and just refrigerate it until the fat congeals and scrape it off to discard it.
So, once the fat has been removed, pour the liquid into a pot and bring it to a light boil and reduce it until you are left with about a cup. Set aside.

Okay for the bbq sauce:

Chop up the shallot and the garlic and saute that in about a tbls of oil in heavy pot for a couple of minutes before adding the rest of the sauce ingredients, including the reserved cup of reduced cooking liquid. Simmer that lightly for 15 minutes.

Now, the pork should be cool enough to shred it - you can pull it apart with your fingers or you can use tongs if it's still too hot. Once the pork is all pulled apart, pour enough of the bbq sauce over that to fullly moisten the meat and mix it in thoroughly.

How you eat it is up to you, of course. The boys like it on old school hamburger buns or nice, crusty Portuguese buns. Shack likes his with coleslaw and The Kid likes it with extra sauce only. I like to eat it as is with coleslaw on the side or ever over rice.

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