To understand my affection for barbecue, you must first understand three things. One, my husband is from Texas, which he feels gives him authority when it comes to all things smoked. Two, my dog has a Twitter account. And three, my dog was recently followed by the Twitter account for Dickey’s Barbecue Pit, a barbecue franchise chain started in Dallas that clearly hired an amazing social media director. They have even replied to her pleas for smoked sausage. It’s sweet, and a great example of customer engagement.
So I have this abiding affection for anything barbecue-related, even though I am definitely from Up North. One of the downsides of living in a small Idaho ski town is that the only barbecue restaurant in the valley shut its doors about three years ago (after a wonderful, but short and ill-fated, run). The closest barbecue is, in fact, a Dickey’s franchise in Twin Falls.
This means that I have to do it myself, and without the benefits of a smoker or even a grill, for that matter. I’ve successfully made brisket in the oven before, with decent results. This time, I wanted — nay, needed — to make pulled pork. And it needed to be served with coleslaw and pickles and barbecue sauce.
I got this recipe from a co-worker and modified it to fit exactly what I wanted.The miracle worker of this recipe is the slow cooker. It allows the pork shoulder to get super-tender and shred-able without drying out. The garlic and onions add a little flavor, the rub adds more, and the hard cider also helps keep everything nice and tender. Don’t worry about trimming the fat off first — leave it on, where some of it will melt into the pan juices and you can pick out the rest when you’re shredding.
Serve with coleslaw, pickles and the best barbecue sauce you can find — heck, even with macaroni and cheese and some fried okra, if you can scrounge it up. There’s nothing better.
- 4-6 lb pork shoulder (may also be called Boston butt)
- 1/4 cup liquid smoke
- 1 medium red onion, sliced thin
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- 1 1/2 cups hard apple cider (that’s about a bottle)
- 2 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp chili powder
- 1 Tbsp salt
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp dry mustard
- Place onions and garlic in the bottom of your slow cooker, then pour apple cider over. Sprinkle the liquid smoke all over the surface of your pork shoulder.
- Mix together sugar and spices in a small bowl. Rub all over the surface of the pork shoulder, then place meat in the slow cooker on top of the onions and garlic and cider.
- Cover, and cook until the meat falls off the blade bone or begins to fall apart. This will take six to 10 hours on low (mine took about 8 — a little more time is not a catastrophe here).
- When done, remove shoulder from the slow cooker, using a slotted spoon if necessary and if it begins to pull apart. Place the meat in a 9×13 baking pan and shred using two forks, removing large chunks of fat as necessary.
- Serve with heated barbecue sauce, coleslaw, pickles, or whatever else makes your barbecue complete.