As part of my Jurassic Park party evening, I was looking for a nice, easy summer staple that I could make for 8-10 people without breaking the bank. Since our awesome shindig went down on a Wednesday night, I had to be at work that day and didn’t have the whole day to play in the kitchen. I also had a friend coming who is gluten, soy and dairy intolerant-challenge accepted! All of this led to the awesomeness that is North Carolina style pulled pork done in the slow cooker!
The Carolina styles are the oldest of the many styles of BBQ in the United States. The Carolina styles tend to favor shredded or pulled pork treated with a dry rub before smoking or cooking and occasional basting with a spice and vinegar sauce during cooking. I used the traditional, dark-meat shoulder cut ( aka pork butt) for our pulled pork and made the Western North Carolina style sauce. The Western North Carolina sauce uses a vinegar based sauce with tomato sauce, where the Eastern North Carolina sauce only uses vinegar and spices in their sauces. Phew! Now that we’ve got that all down, let’s get to cooking!
- 6 tablespoons brown sugar, separated
- 1/4 cup sweet paprika
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- salt and pepper
- 1 (5 pound) pork butt roast, trimmed and quartered
- 3 smoked ham hocks, rinsed
- 2ish cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 cup cider vinegar
- 3/4 cup ketchup
- 1 1/2 teaspoons liquid smoke
1. Combine 3 tablespoons sugar with the paprika, chili powder, cumin 2 teaspoons salt and 1 tablespoon pepper in a bowl. Mix well. Using a fork, prick the pork butt all over. Rub sugar dry rub all over pork and give the meat a little piggy massage to make sure the rub penetrates the outer layers of the meat. Wrap the seasoned pork butt tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
2. Place ham hocks in slow cooker. Remove pork butt from plastic wrap and place on top of hocks. Pour broth over pork until the meat is at least 3/4 covered. I used a bit more than 2 cups but it depends on the size of your slow cooker. Cook for 5-7 hours on high.
3. Remove pork from slow cooker. Let cool and then remove bones, any obvious fat, skin or extraneous icky bits. Shred pork into bit size pieces. Cover the meat and keep warm. Skim any fat off of the braising liquid remaining in the slow cooker.
4. Drain the braising liquid through a colander into a saucepan over medium-high heat. Simmer until the liquid reduces to 1 cup. Add the vinegar, ketchup, liquid smoke, a pinch of salt and pepper and the remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar. Whisk well until all the ingredients are fully incorporated and bring back to a simmer for about 5 minutes.
5. Toss the pork with about 1 1/2 cups your awesome homemade BBQ sauce and serve with any extra sauce on the side.
Recipe adapted from Cooking Light