Pulled pork is one of those super comforting dishes popularised in the States, via North and South Carolina’s barbecue traditions. One of the various old school methods of cooking it involves skewering a whole hog between poles and hanging it over a smouldering pit over indirect heat. Throughout the night, the pit masters would manually turn the hogs on the spit for even cooking. Before serving it the next afternoon, they would peel off its crisp skin and pull off the tender meat in lumps from the carcass before slathering the juicy bits in some sort of sauce. Our cheat’s version of pulled pork requires way less effort. It’s your slow cooker that does all the work. What you get at the end of this rather simple cooking session is a deliciously sloppy mess of meat tinged with the mellow sweetness of maple syrup and depth of your favourite whiskey. Serve with cornbread, coleslaw and iced tea for a true down-home feast.
Slow Cooker Pulled Pork with Whisky and Maple Syrup
Purists may insist on making their own barbecue sauce from scratch, but we’re quite happy with the store-bought stuff — just buy a good quality sauce that has a nice smoky flavour to it (we used Master Foods Kettle Cooked Barbecue Sauce, available at Cold Storage supermarket).
2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
3 clove garlic, minced
1kg pork shoulder butt
½ cup maple syrup
¼ cup whisky
2 cups barbecue sauce, plus more to taste
1 tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp salt
1. Spread the onions and garlic over the base of the slow cooker pot.
2. Place the pork on top.
3. In a bowl, mix the rest of the ingredients together then pour it over the pork and give it a quick rub.
4. Cook in the slow cooker for 8 hours or overnight on auto setting. The resulting meat should be fall-apart tender.
5. Transfer the pork to a bowl, then trim off and discard any excess fat. Shred the pork with two forks or using your hands.
6. Skim off any fat from the cooking liquid, then place the cooking liquid in a saucepan over high heat until it reduces by half.
7. Pour the reduced liquid over the pulled pork and stir. Taste and add more salt or barbecue sauce if desired. This dish can be made days ahead and refrigerated or frozen for up to two weeks.
Photo by Ealbert Ho