A number of friends cook excellent pulled pork, typically with domestic swine. It’s a source of pride for them. They slow-cook the meat for hours on a grill or smoker, covering with special spices, colas, beer, etc. They hem and haw about strategies. To their credit, more often than not the meat is tender and delicious. Props to the boys.
But I sincerely mean it when I say I am typically too lazy for this method of cooking. Most of the time, maintaining a grill all day just doesn’t spark my wick.
Enter the crock pot. Turn the dial and let her go! No charcoal, no dousing with liquids to keep the meat from drying out. Just easier.
Now, I will concede and opine that, when done properly in both manners, the best pulled pork from a slow cooker won’t rival the average offering from a grill. You just can’t substitute that smoky flavor in your kitchen.
If you want to prove me wrong, I will be happy to accept this challenge! I love pulled pork. There are a number of serviceable recipes that utilizes the crock pot. One of my favorites is mojo pork. Mojo is a liquid marinade comprised primarily of citrus juices, garlic, and a variety of spices. Most grocery stores will carry a handful of different brands, Goya being my favorite – if they carbonated it, I’d drink it on the way to work every morning.
So, working with wild pork. For this recipe I used a shoulder roast from a sow I shot in March. Just a word of advice, it’s best not to blow holes through the shoulder. The bone fragments will be tough for the processor to remove, though your dentist will be more than happy to buy another plane for his fleet after replacing your chipped teeth. If you've committed this error, you'd do well to wait for another hog and more thoughtful shot placement instead of tying up a shot-up shoulder for a roast.
Once defrosted, I let the roast soak in icy water to draw blood and any gamey flavor from the meat. After an hour, I patted it dry, scored the roast (It got an 8.0! Zing!), and pushed minced garlic into the slits. Then, I seasoned the pork with Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper and lightly brushed with olive oil.
This rested in the fridge until the next morning when I put the roast in the crock pot with ¾ of a bottle of mojo. The heat was set to low, and I went about my day – errands, a few chapters of a Teddy Roosevelt biography, a fajita lunch, and filling a kiddie pool for my wife so she could sunbathe. The usual, we call it.
As I readied for an afternoon turkey hunt – 8 hours after placing it in the pot – I carefully lifted the roast from the cooker. It fell apart when it hit the pan. I took two forks and pulled the pork.
I poured off all but ½ cup of the mojo and juices and returned the shredded meat to the crock pot and left for my turkey hunt. Carolyn turned off the cooker after a couple of hours.
When I arrived home, the pork was ready to eat. As I said before, it doesn’t rival the smoker version, but with a bottle of Sticky Fingers Carolina BBQ sauce, mac&cheese and a salad, I doubt there will be much dissension if put in front of a hungry crowd.