pulled pork bbq (slow cooker style)

Can you ever get enough pulled pork?  I think not.

A friend gave  me this recipe a while back and I hadn’t made it for fear of being accused of being on some strange shredded meat binge.  Finally, the temptation was too great and I gave in, even though I had made shredded something-or-other fairly recently.  But it’s about the easiest recipe ever written and I was in an “I don’t want feel like lingering over dinner” kind of mood.  Four ingredients, people.  Four ingredients and that’s about all the lingering over dinner you’ll need to do.  I always feel like there’s some kitchen fairy magic going on with these meals.  Ingredients in, lid on, twelve hours later, dinner is served.

I’ve seen various recipes like this one calling for the addition of a carbonated beverage.  Does anyone know why?  Honestly, I’m not sure what the added benefit might be, because I think the meat really gets it flavor from the onions and whatever spectacular bbq sauce you choose.  So, if anyone can offer any hints as to why soda of any kind is frequently seen in slow cooker recipes like this, I’d love to know.  The finished product had absolutely no Ginger Ale overtones, whatsoever.

We always top our shredded meat with coleslaw.  We’re quirky that way.  Feel free to do the same, or just slather in more saucy deliciousness.  Enjoy!

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Pulled Pork BBQ

Ingredients:

  • 4 lbs pork roast (shoulder or butt)
  • 2 large onions
  • 1 cup ginger ale
  • 1 (18 ounce) bottle favorite barbecue sauce (I like Sweet Baby Ray’s) barbecue sauce, for serving (optional)

Directions:

  • Slice one onion and place in crock pot.
  • Put in the roast and cover with the other onion, sliced. Pour over the ginger ale. Cover and cook on LOW for about 12 hours.
  • Remove the meat, strain and save the onions, discard all liquid. With two forks, shred the meat, discarding any remaining fat, bones or skin.
  • Return the shredded meat and the onions to the crock pot and stir in the barbecue sauce. Continue to cook for about another 2 hours on LOW.
  • Serve with hardy rolls and additional barbecue sauce. Any leftovers freeze very well.

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Cook’s Notes:  Shoulder or butt are recommended because the meat shreds very well.  It is a fattier cut, but the fat pretty much falls away after cooking and is easily removed from the crock pot before shredding.  Also,  the original recipe cooked for 12 hours the first round, and another 4 to 6 after straining, shredding, and adding the sauce.  I think mine would have been cooked to mush by that point.  Another 2 hours to let the flavors develop was plenty for us.  Also, the original recipe gave a tip on how to freeze ready-made sandwiches.  Personally, that just sounds disgusting.  I can only envision a soggy pile of goo coming out of the microwave upon re-heating.  My preference is to keep the meat and bread separate until I’m ready to eat.  Most importantly (as with any shredded meat sandwich where sauce or coleslaw is involved), make sure your sandwich buns can stand up to all that moisture.  I noted to serve with “hardy rolls” in the directions above, and I can’t emphasize that enough.  Unless you don’t mind eating your pulled pork with a fork.  In which case you can simply call this recipe pork-on-a-fork!

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mu shu pork wraps

These were delicious.  I don’t think there’s anything else I can add.  Oh, yes, and messy!  Not to mention really easy to make.  And delicious.  Did I say that already?

I’m a Cooking Light subscriber, but I must have overlooked these somehow when I received this issue, because I’d have been all over them like…well, nothing you want to talk about in a cooking blog.  Whatever the reason, they went unnoticed until I was working on a weekly menu plan some time last month.  The combination of ingredients was enticingly colorful and…crunchy.  I’m a crunch person, so I can’t go wrong with any dish full of  crisp, fast-cooked veggies.

Although the original recipe called for a head of green or Savoy cabbage, the day I did my shopping I was in a purple kind of mood.  This dish wouldn’t have a lot of color otherwise and I thought the purple cabbage would be a nice compliment to the carrots.  (I know you’re all busting out your decorating color wheels right about now).  Also, everyone’s always telling you to eat a rainbow, right?   Purple cabbage is full of antioxidants and has more of vitamins A and C, and iron than green cabbage.  So, it looks pretty in the dish and it’s good for you!

The prep for this dish is really simple and the ingredients go together quickly, so it really is perfect for weeknight cooking.  My only lament is I didn’t find the recipe sooner.  Enjoy!

sauced © ZoupToNuts

Mu Shu Pork Wraps (recipe adapted from Cooking Light, September 2012)

Ingredients:

  • 1 small head green or Savoy cabbage
  • 2 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 (8-ounce) boneless pork loin, trimmed
  • 1/2 cup matchstick-cut carrots $
  • 4 mushroom caps, thinly sliced (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
  • 3/4 cup sliced green onions, divided $
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
  • 1 package flour tortillas

Directions:

  1. Remove any loose outer cabbage leaves. Shred remaining cabbage to measure 2 cups. Combine soy sauce and next 3 ingredients (through cornstarch). Cut pork crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Stack several slices vertically; slice pork into 1/4-inch-thick pieces. Repeat procedure with remaining pork. Add pork, carrots, and mushrooms to soy sauce mixture; toss.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil. Add 1/4 cup onions; sauté 30 seconds. Add shredded cabbage and water; sauté 2 minutes. Remove cabbage mixture from pan. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Add remaining 1/2 cup onions and garlic; sauté 30 seconds. Add pork mixture; sauté 3 minutes or until done. Add cabbage mixture; toss.
  3. Place about 1/3 cup pork mixture into each tortilla, wrap and serve.

combined © ZoupToNuts

plated © ZoupToNuts
Cook’s Notes:  The original recipe uses the large, outer cabbage leaves for the wraps.  As I’d recently fed my husband dinner wrapped in lettuce, I opted for something a little more substantial and used the tortillas.  You can only get away with lettuce wrapped meals so many times a month!

tangy apple-cabbage coleslaw

Coleslaw is a classic summer side, and one I don’t care much for when served in the typical drippy, heavy,  mayonnaise-y way.  I liked this recipe for a number of reasons: low cal, no fat, lots of flavor!

The original recipe, found in Cook’s Illustrated Healthy Kitchen, suggested salting the cabbage ahead of time to draw out some of the water that naturally dilutes coleslaw once cabbage is cut and allowed to sit.  This took a bit of the crunch out of the cabbage, but it wasn’t watery.  The cabbage was more the consistency of “pickle-crisp.”

The crunch the cabbage lost in the salting was gained back by the addition of crisp, tart Granny Smith apple slices.  The cider vinegar adds a nice sweet, pungent flavor and, of course, some complimentary heat from the crushed red pepper.

There are so many great flavors going on in this recipe it should please even the most ardent mayo fan.  It might even make a convert out of them.  Note, however, like most dressed salads, this doesn’t keep well.  Eat within a day or two, at most.  Enjoy!

Tangy Apple-Cabbage Coleslaw

Ingredients:

1 head green cabbage (about 2 pounds), cored and chopped thin
1 tsp salt
2 Granny Smith apples, cored and cut into matchsticks
2 scallions, sliced thin on the bias
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup honey
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes

  • Toss the cabbage with the salt in a colander and let sit until wilted, about 1 hour.  Rinse the cabbage under cold water, drain, and pat dry thoroughly with paper towels.  Toss the dried cabbage, apples, and scallions together in a large bowl to combine.
  • Bring the vinegar, oil, honey, mustard, and red pepper flakes to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat.  Pour the warm dressing over the cabbage mixture and toss to coat.  Cover and refrigerate until the flavors have blended, about 1 hour.