Friday, August 2, 2013

Smoky, Juicy Pork Barbecue from a Crock Pot?

While I do have two smokers, they're not the type of equipment that can be set up and forgotten about; specific temperatures, wood supplies, and maybe even water in a pan must be maintained.  So how would you get a good pork barbecue if you're not using a smoker?  Believe it or not, but it can be done simply in a crock pot; a piece of equipment that can be set up and walked away from until ready to eat.

While I have tried making pork barbecue with pork roast or tenderloin, Boston butt is the way to go whether using a smoker or not.  This section of pork comes from the upper part of the shoulder on the front leg of the pig; usually sold with the bone intact. Now unless you have plans for that bone, have your butcher take it out; why pay per pound for something you'll more than likely throw away?  Sometimes the butt is sold with the bone already out, but the cost is more; I was very, very lucky to find a nice 4 pounder without the bone and on sale. Think about it, I have 4 pounds of meat as compared to perhaps 3 to 3 and 1/2 pounds after the bone is removed; definitely a bargain!  By the way, it's a given that the meat might have to be cut apart here or there to get the bone cleanly out; you want those sections!  If in a package, you'll find them tied together into one big roast with butcher's twine; just remove the twine before cooking...well this recipe anyway.

I don't know about you, but most times I have found pork to be on the dry side.  To solve this problem, I will brine the meat before cooking it. This salt water soak will help to open up the meat fibers to allow the fat, as it melts, to flow into the meat and keep it moist and juicy. It also allows seasonings, and sauces if simmered in them, to do the same thing.  If there is a lot of extra fat hanging off the butt, it's alright to trim some of it off as there is plenty within the Boston butt itself.  Now when you're ready to begin the cooking process, set up a 6 quart crock pot (spray the inside with nonstick cooking spray) and set the temperature on low;  place the brined Boston butt inside.

I used my homemade barbecue sauce to make this pork barbecue, but use bottled if you're not up to making the homemade.  Make sure though that you do add onions!  Cover the meat with 6 cups of sauce; cover and cook for 6-8 hours.  The meat should be so tender, it simply comes apart with a fork.  With my crock pot (Hamilton Beach 3 in 1 with tall, round crock pots), the 4 pounds of pork only took 6 hours before perfection was achieved.  Depending on how your equipment works, it could be the same or longer; but you want it so tender that it shreds without effort.

I serve up my pork barbecue sandwiches two ways; first off, large potato buns for both; the first way is simply with barbecue sauce on top.  The second, and our very favorite way, is with cole slaw layered on top. 

Homemade Cole Slaw


4 cups shredded white cabbage
1 cup shredded red cabbage
1 cup shredded carrots
2 cups Miracle Whip salad dressing
1 and 1/2 tablespoons ground black pepper


Put all ingredients into large bowl and mix thoroughly.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour before serving. 
Makes 8-10 servings.

Taste the cole slaw after refrigeration to see if it needs salt; no one I have ever served it to has ever done so though.  They like the savory taste the ground black pepper gives to the vegetables.

In case you have a good amount of barbecue sauce left over after the pork is all gone; put it into a plastic bowl and into the freezer for about an hour.  Any fat in the sauce will solidify at the top and you can scoop it off to throw away.  Then seal the container, label it, and keep it in the freezer until you need barbecue sauce again; cooking it with the pork didn't ruin the flavor, only enhanced it.

There you have it, smoky, juicy pork barbecue simply made in the kitchen with a crock pot; and a bonus recipe for homemade cole slaw.  Enjoy!

Mary Cokenour