It’s the time of year people come together to celebrate — the weather is warming up and new life is emerging from the soil. Open your windows; you can smell sweet spring flowers on the breeze. Twilight stretches well into the evening. The chorus of spring peepers sings loudly, yelling into the stillness of the night. We celebrate with the rejuvenation of life all around us.
In conjunction with the natural world waking, family and friends reconnect. We look for any excuse to come together: graduation celebrations, family reunions, the start to summer or just because.
A big part of celebrating is sharing a meal, especially backyard BBQs. When your turn to host comes and you don’t want to skimp on your invite list, I suggest planning and cooking the meal ahead of time. Being strategic in your menu planning will free up your time, allowing you to spend quality time with your guests.
Pulled pork can be prepared ahead and kept warm in a slow cooker on the day. These little sandwiches are versatile and can be paired with your favorite salads and side dishes, or fresh fruit. Preparing them will take a bit of planning but once you are started you can basically set it and forget it.
The day of the gathering there is very little prep involved. Let your hair down and spend your time catching up with your loved ones.
Make sure you have a meat thermometer. The secret to moist, flavorful meat is the brine. I recommend soaking your roast in the liquid overnight, allowing flavors to develop.
6 – 7 lbs pork butt or shoulder roast (preferably bone-in as it adds flavor), trim any excess fat
2-gallon freezer bag
Place the roast in the bag and add the following ingredients:
2 bay leaves
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
2 – 3 whole peeled garlic cloves
½ cup brown sugar
2 tsp kosher salt
½ cup white or apple cider vinegar
Add enough water to cover the roast. Remove excess air and seal the bag, place in the refrigerator overnight for up to 24 hours.
1 Tbsp kosher salt
1⁄8 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp dry mustard
¼ tsp cayenne
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp paprika (sweet or hot, your preference)
1 tsp fresh ground coriander
½ tsp fresh course ground pepper
Mix all the ingredients together.
Remove the roast from the brine and pat dry with paper towel. Discard the liquid. Rub the spice mixture on the roast so all sides are thoroughly covered. Place the roast in your slow cooker, set on high. The roast takes three to four hours to cook through. The roast is finished when the internal meat temperature reaches 145°F.
Remove the roast from the slow cooker and allow it to rest until it is cool to the touch. Shred the meat using two forks. Store in an airtight container until the day of the festivities. Preparing a day or two before is ideal.
When reheating the pork, place the meat in a slow cooker on low. Add a premixed liquid containing a cup of water, one tablespoon of vinegar and two tablespoons of brown sugar. Stir the meat often. When the meat is warm, turn the slow cooker down to the warm setting. Add more liquid if needed to avoid drying out the meat.
When serving, feel free to add some BBQ sauce or offer spicy mustard on the side. Sweet hot pickles are also a great addition, but my favorite way to serve these fun little sandwiches is to add a spoonful of coleslaw. Pork and cabbage taste great together and the slaw adds the perfect crunch. I prefer a small hard roll but any roll or bread will work. Enjoy!
1 head green cabbage, shredded
3 carrots, shredded
½ red onion or 3 – 4 scallions, diced
1 cup fresh cilantro, stems removed
Mix all fresh ingredients together in a bowl.
½ cup mayonnaise
juice of 1 lime
1 tsp white vinegar
1 garlic clove, diced
1 tsp chipotle powder
salt to taste
Whisk all dressing ingredients together and pour dressing over the cabbage mixture. Store the coleslaw an hour or more in the refrigerator to allow flavors to develop.