While perhaps nothing can be compared to a bone-fide Pork Butt, also known as Pork Shoulder, smoked in a barbecue, this recipe, done in the slow cooker, yields absolutely moist, tender and delicious results. And it could hardly be simpler.
If you’re thinking “party” or just looking for an economical way to get some dinner on the table, you can’t go wrong with pulled pork. Unless, of course, your serving Vegetarians or Vegans. Served on buns, a little goes a long way, and this cut of meat is one of the least expensive cuts around. Don’t forget a little Slaw for on top or on the side! You may have a lot left over – I’ve included a few ideas for that marvelous Shredded Pork!
Pork Butt is generally found in sizes ranging from the six to 12 pound range, and sale prices, depending on where you live, range from $.99 to $1.99 a pound. Sometimes, I’ll divide a roast like this up to make several different meals and sometimes I’ll cook up the whole roast in the slow cooker like today. It’s great for a party or to simply divide the cooked meat into portions to freeze some for future meals. So many great meals can be made with left over pulled pork, if you can not eat it all up at once! 🙂
This roast was a 10 pounder, at a great price, probably because I bought it the week before the Superbowl, $1.49 a pound. Cooked, it made about 5 1/2 pounds of shredded pork after the excess fat and the bone was discarded – I say about, as there was some snacking and smacking away of hands as I stood at the counter shredding the meat. This weight should hold true whether smoked, baked or cooked in a smoker, and it works out to a cooked price of $2.70 a pound, dry.
A cup of the shredded meat (lightly packed and dry, no sauce) weighed in at about 5 ounces, so this roast yielded about 17 1/2 cups of shredded meat. This should give you an idea of how a make your own compares in cost to something like a Curley’s, Lloyd’s or other purchased brand of barbecue. Granted, you’ll still have to add a sauce (which will add weight and cost), but the pricing of $.86 cents a cup is looking pretty good by comparison! I’d guess that around 1/3 of a cup is about right for a sandwich, depending on the size of the buns.
The roast gave off about a quart of juices after it was defatted and a little added back to the meat to keep it moist. It won’t go to waste at my house, and hopefully, now, not at yours. Since the juices have picked up some flavor from the rub, think about flavors that go well with the flavors of the rub you use: Cayenne, Chili Powder, Garlic, Onion, etc.
All these flavors will be marvelous in soup/stews that have a natural barbecue flavor like Brunswick Stew and the broth can easily be nudged into the realm of Mexican flavors. Think about Pork Chili, a Chile Verde, or a Pozole. Save out a few good-sized chunks of the pork, refrigerating them to firm that natural collagen back up. Carefully cut and add them back into your soup or stew towards the end of the cooking and you’ll have marvelous, tender chunks and not just shreds in your finished product.
A few secrets to make the best Slow Cooker Shredded Pork, and many of these hold true for a Barbecued Pork Shoulder, too.
- Keep on the fat cap, and keep it on the top. If it’s very thick, some may be hacked off, but don’t go under 3/8ths of an inch or so. Score it, just down to the meat.
- Keep some Rib Rub on hand; I mix up a batch or two at a time so I have it on hand. Use it generously as what’s on the outside will flavor the whole roast. You’ll have your roast ready in minutes.
- Use the Rub generously! A good 1/2 a cup or more for a smaller roast, about 3/4 cup or more for a ten pound.
- Massage the rub over and into the meat. Wrap tightly and refrigerate, two or three hours if time is short and overnight if not. Unwrap, place it in the crockpot and let it cook, slowly, until it is nearly ready to fall apart.
- This is easy to cook overnight or while you’re at work, but if you’re around, consider draining off some of the juices and fat about halfway through the cooking time. This will give it more surface area to form a crust. Put those juices in the fridge.
- Try not to over cook – it’s hard to do so in a slow cooker, but if you can be there towards the end of cooking to test – it’s done when a fork can easily be inserted and turned and most of the fat has rendered down, that’s for the best. A roast like this can cook so long that all the fat is gone, leaving the actual meat dry even though it’s swimming in juices.
- When finished, let the pork butt rest in the juices until it has significantly cooled, and you’ll have the loveliest, silkiest meat. Watch the “safe” zone! The two-hour window for leaving meat at room temp.
- Shred the meat before refrigerating! Once the fats and collagen have firmed back up, it’s much more difficult to do a good job, and any excess fat is harder to remove. Remove excess fat and such as you shred.
- Toss a little of the juices in with the shredded meat before refrigerating – or add a little bit of a barbecue sauce, like Pride of Deer Camp Barbecue Sauce, a thin, vinegary spicy sauce.
- Keep the crispy bits aside, and add to the top of the pile of meat when it’s refrigerated. When you’re ready to reheat, stir them back in and that way you’ll find bits of crispy, scrumptious pieces in your pork.
- Reheat very slowly and carefully! The meat can easily drain off any juices and turn firm, dry, grey and tasteless! It can be saved by a great sauce, but the meat should be fantastic on its own.
Pulled Pork from the Slow Cooker
- 1 ten pound Pork Shoulder
- 3/4 cup of rub of your choice, here’s mine.
- plastic wrap
Remove any skin and excess fat (down to 3/8ths of an inch) on the top of the roast. Score through the fat down to the meat every inch or so in both directions.
Rub and massage the rub over the roast. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for two to three hours and up to overnight.
Place in crockpot and cook on low for 8 to 11 hours. Cool in juices for 30 minutes or so, until easy to handle. Shred while still warm. Toss with about a cup of the juices (or a barbecue sauce, like Pride of Deer Camp Barbecue sauce) and refrigerate.
Reheat slowly and carefully.
Yield: about 5 1/2 pounds of shredded meat, around 17 1/2 cups.
Notes: Additional information you may want to know! While I haven’t cooked every weight of roast in my slow cooker, I’ve found that generally:
- Pork shoulder needs to cook low & slow. Best results are had by using the low setting.
- Pork will shred once the internal temperature reaches about 195 degrees or so, but this can vary. For some science around this, read this article from Amazing Ribs.
- Crock Pot vary in cooking temperature, “hot zones” and how long they take to heat up. There will always be variances.
- Rule of thumb: a four to seven pound roast will need 6 to 7 hours, add an additional hour after that for each pound of meat.
- Don’t lift the lid until you think the roast is done! Check quickly! A lift of the lid will slow the cooking down considerably!
from the kitchen of http://www.frugalhausfrau.com