Friday, July 11, 2014

Easy Crock-Pot Pulled Pork

Of all of the recipes I've ever written and posted on this blog, I'm thinking this one has the least ingredients.  Just a handful in fact, and that's because I got some serious help from Trader Joes.  I purchased their BBQ/Coffee rub with the intention of trying it out on steak, but then, when I decided to make pulled pork for my 4th of July cookout, it was put to good use sooner than planned.

See, I've made pulled pork in the crock-pot before.  I've tried a couple different recipes.  One where I've made my own rub (meh).  Another time, I simply seasoned the pork with salt and pepper and threw it in the crock-pot with 1 liter of coke (tried and true southern method I found on the net).  Both times, the pork came out fork tender, but I must say that when I made it this way, using the TJ's rub, it was tender and flavorful.

I believe that the flavor not only came from the rub but the onions and garlic I decided to add as well as the fact that I seared the meat first before adding it into the crock-pot.  Also, I didn't use as much liquid as I did when I used coke, because I remembered how much liquid the pork produces on its own.  These subtle choices resulted in excellent pulled pork that got rave reviews at my cookout!  And whenever I get raves, I always feel compelled to share the recipe.  This one is definitely full proof and definitely "semi-homemade."  Like I said, I added fresh onions and garlic to a store bought rub AND I also bought the barbeque sauce (Sweet Baby Ray's for the win!).  So literally anyone can make this.  It's cheap and easy! It would be perfect for your next cookout.  Feed a crowd on a dime!

Ingredients: (feeds 6-8)
5 lb bone-in pork shoulder or pork butt
1 extra large white onion or 2 medium onions
4 cloves garlic
½ cup Trader Joes BBQ Rub, or your favorite (McCormick Packets are great, purchase 2)
1 ½ cups chicken stock or broth, divided
¾ cup vegetable or canola oil
2 cups store bought barbecue sauce, plus more for serving


Preheat cock-pot to low.  Slice the onion and arrange on the bottom of the crock-pot.  Roughly chop the garlic cloves and sprinkle over the onion.   Pour one cup of the chicken stock over the onions and garlic.

Next prepare the pork by placing it on a large plate or cutting board and trim off any access fat.  Rub half the spice rub into one side of meat, flip and rub the other half of the spices into the other half of the meat.  Be sure to cover every inch with the spice and press onto the sides as well.

Allow the rub to set while preheating a dutch oven or large cast iron skillet to  high.  Add in the oil and then gently add in the pork.  Sear for a few minutes or until a golden crust has formed.  Then rotate until browned on all sides.

Once completely seared, quickly transfer meat to the crock pot, placing the meat on top of the onions.  Then, use the remaining ½ cup of stock to deglaze the pan, scraping up all of the bits from the bottom.  Pour the stock into the crock pot, cover and cook on low overnight or for 8-9 hours.

Once cooked, transfer meat to a bowl or deep container.  Pour everything from the crock pot into a strainer to separate the juices from the onions.  Discard the juices, add the onions back to the pork and using two forks, shred the meat.  Mix in the two cups of BBQ sauce and serve with buns, coleslaw and additional sauce.  Enjoy!  

Meat removed from crock-pot.

Strained juices.

Used 2 forks to shred the meat. Though I barely had to. So tender!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Summer Sides, Soups and Sweets!

Happy 4th of July to you all!  I don’t have any new recipes to share, unfortunately, but I do have news! I’ve enrolled in an online writing camp for the month of July called Camp NaNoWriMo.  It’s an online writing community that gives you the tools and support you need to reach your goal of writing 50,000 words in 31 days.  I learned about NaNoWriMo from Meg, my good friend from graduate school, who participated last November to write a novel, which is actually what the writing community was created for.  But lucky for me, they’ve created a camp in July where they invite you to work on any project that you like. 

I’m finally working on my cookbook and this project has perfect timing because I am off for the summer and though my business Popcorn Queens keeps me very busy, what I’m learning from this experience is that you can get so much accomplished in a single hour.  Or, as the "writing sprints" that we’re encouraged to participate in have taught me, in just 15 minutes you can type a lot of words.  So I’m finding the time somewhat effectively, but this is only day 3.  2,535 words so far 47,465 words to go.  I’ll report back at the end of July and post any significant dishes on the blog throughout the month.

In the meantime, I decided to share some of my favorite summer recipes today in case anyone needed inspiration.  Another thing I learned while working on my cookbook is that I have so many recipes on here.  I never thought I measured up to other food bloggers but this is my 66th post and about 50 of them have been recipes.  Regardless of what anyone else is doing, I think that’s a lot!  It’s time for the cookbook.  Anyway enjoy the Sides, Soups and Sweets!

My Summer Sides

I sent this to my Aunt’s 4th of July cookout last summer because I couldn’t go.  Halfway through the day I got a text: “Your Slaw is a hit! It’s almost gone!”  I have to admit this dish is a labor of love (slicing and dicing a ton of apples) but it’s so refreshing and healthy, your guests will appreciate it!

My roommate told me that one of her co-workers had her dying lauging because she was complaining about how much she hates the 4th and what she hates the most: Potato Salad!  It sits out, gets runny and gross, I get it.   Make this German version instead!  Mayo free, best at room temperature and has tons of flavor.

Wont say too much about this except, like my Apple Slaw, my family really loves it.  My Mom even asked me for the recipe yesterday.  Corn is just one of those vegetables that everyone loves and grilling it, only makes it better.

My Summer Soup

This recipe has been in my family for years and I just love it.  I’m even planning on making this in the next couple of weeks because it’s HOT out there!  Another refreshing, healthy option for you all!

My Summer Sweet

I like this recipe for the summer because well, pineapples are tropical right?  (even if they come out of a can) Also there’s no icing.  It can sit on your outdoor picnic table for hours and you don’t have to worry about them.  Plus, Pineapple Upside Down Cake is a crowd favorite on the low.  I never knew until I made these how many people rank it as their favorite dessert.

Please make one or all of these during your holiday weekend or any time this summer!  And Share! Share! Share! (@the_single_cook on Twitter & IG -- The Single Cook on FB)