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

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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!

pork and brussels sprouts stir fry

I’m a huge fan of the Brussels Sprout.  It’s probably my favorite vegetable of all time, or a close second to….hmmm (long pause while I think about what might be a close second).  Nah, it’s the Brussels Sprout, hands down!  Sadly, though, for lovers of these delicious orbs of savory goodness, the season is quickly coming to an end.  Yes, spring vegetables are on the way.  There will soon be bunches upon bunches of young, firm spears of vibrant green asparagus, which I also adore.  But I’ll miss the Brussels Sprouts clear through to next winter.

I found this recipe on Pinterest, yet again.  It seems to be where I’m finding a lot of really good recipes these days.  The only adaptation I made was to reduce the amount of chili pepper paste from 2 tablespoons to just a smidgen over 1 tablespoon given a seven-year old was eating and I’d rather have not quite enough heat than too much.  Reduced heat means increased odds of the kiddo actually trying what I’ve cooked for dinner.  It turned out to be just the right amount for us and it’s clearly an ingredient, like the garlic, you can add/subtract according to your palate.  I never reduce garlic, though.  That would be a travesty!

This dish got thumbs up around the table.  It’s super easy to put together and calls for just a handful of ingredients.  I served it with Jasmine rice – which is very aromatic and flavorful on its own, but didn’t overpower the great flavors of this dish.  I’d say it’s probably even better for lunch the next day but I didn’t get the chance to find out.  No leftovers.  That’s a winner at our house.

So gather ye sprouts while ye may, right?  Indulge in the best of winter veggies before it’s too late.  Enjoy!

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Pork and Brussels Sprouts Stir-Fry (recipe courtesy BetsyLife – A Sunny Perspective)

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 pound boneless pork loin chops, cut into 1/4-inch thick strips
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, halved and loose leaves removed
  • 2 scallions, whites and greens sliced separately
  • 2 Tbsp Gourmet Garden garlic paste
  • 2 Tbsp Gourmet Garden chili pepper paste
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 c bean sprouts, fresh

Directions:

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; add pork and cook until golden; transfer to plate.

Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil and sprouts to pan; cook, stirring occasionally, until brown and tender, 5 to 8 minutes. Add scallion whites, garlic and chili pepper; cook 1 minute. Add soy sauce, brown sugar and 1/4 cup water; cook until sauce is slightly thickened.

Return pork to pan and toss to coat. Top with scallion greens and bean sprouts and serve immediately.

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Cook’s Notes:  The first time I made this recipe I used the designated amount of pork (1/2 lb), but I have to admit I felt cheated on the meat.  This time I doubled the pork to a full pound and found that to be a better proportion, especially with a full pound of Brussels Sprouts.  Also, I used Earthbound Farm Organic brand for the garlic and chili pepper paste.  The brand of your choice will do.

herb-roasted pork shoulder

I love how the perfect weekend recipe always seems to appear in my in-box around Friday afternoon.  Generally, my other half cooks on Saturday night, giving me a much-needed break from six previous nights of cooking.  But by Sunday I’m geared up and ready to go at it again.  And Sunday cooking is more a labor of love.  Weeknight dinners are usually selected for ease of prep and timeliness.   On Sunday, there isn’t that same chaotic, mad rush.  Sunday meals are slower.  Sunday meals are more laid back.  It’s probably my favorite night of the week to cook.  There’s a certain satisfaction in chopping garlic and fresh herbs when you know it’s not a race to the finish.

And this is just the epitome of a Sunday Supper: roasted, aromatic, savory, slower, laid back, and delicious!  The herb rub is heady and flavorful.   The crispy pork skin??  Well, I don’t eat such things but I’m pretty sure my husband buckled at the knees.  The pork shoulder is a fattier cut of meat than I normally choose, but a little fat sure goes a long way; the roast was tender and juicy.  We used the digital meat thermometer and cooked to an internal temp of about 160°.

Enjoy!

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Herb-Roasted Pork Shoulder

Ingredients

  • 1 5-to-6 pound boneless, skin-on pork shoulder (mine was about 3 lbs)
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1  Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1  Tbsp chopped fresh sage
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 3/4 tsp black pepper

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 400° F with a rack in the middle position. Score the skin of the pork in a criss-cross diamond pattern every 1½ inches. Turn the pork skin-side down and rub with the garlic, rosemary, sage, 2 teaspoons salt, and ¾ teaspoon pepper. Roll up the pork with the skin on the outside and tie every 2 inches with kitchen twine. Place on a rimmed baking sheet.
  2. Roast the pork for 1 hour. Reduce heat to 350° F and continue to roast until the skin is very crispy and pulls away from the meat easily, 2 to 2½ hours more. Transfer to a cutting board, tent loosely with foil, and let rest for 15 minutes before slicing.

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