Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Sandwiches
A few years ago, when I worked full-time outside my home, I loved using my slow cooker to get dinner on the table. It was the best feeling to walk through the door at the end of the day and be greeted by the smells of dinner cooking. Especially when it involved very little effort on my part.
I often tossed all the ingredients in my slow cooker and slid it in the fridge at night. The next morning, I just had to pop the pot in the warming unit and turn it on before walking out the door. A home-cooked meal doesn’t get much easier than that.
Now, as a stay-at-home mom, my commute is from my bed to the coffee pot, and my work attire is yoga pants and sweatshirts. And guess what? I still use my crock pot several times a month. Whether I’m running errands or playing with kids or doing laundry, dinner is cooking without my active involvement. It’s just one less thing that needs my attention. Perfect for busy, frazzled (normal) days.
Slow cookers do not cost a great deal of money, and they save you a ton of time and money. If you use your crock pot, you know what I am talking about.
If you don’t, what are you waiting for?!
“Well, we don’t eat that kind of food.”
If your image of crock pot cooking involves popping and dumping a bunch of cans to create a soupy mess, think again! You can easily use real ingredients to create a delicious meal. Or dessert or bread or… I usually stick to the main course, but there is no end to the crazy creations some people pull out of their crock pots. It’s pure genius, I tell you.
“I don’t know where to start.” Type “slow cooker recipes” into your search engine or Pinterest, and you will get a billion results. Ok, maybe just thousands, but that should at least get you started. Most recipe sites now have an entire section devoted to slow cooker recipes. Here are a few to get you started:
Pulled pork (for sandwiches or tacos) is a great example of an easy, economical, and versatile slow cooker recipe. You start off with an inexpensive, tough cut of meat. The long, slow heat will transform it into tender meat that can be easily shredded. Change the amounts and ingredients up to suit your family’s tastes. Most crock pot recipes, this one included, are pretty forgiving and open to interpretation. Add garlic or hot sauce or peppers or Worcestershire sauce.
This recipe involves basic ingredients that most of you probably have on hand. If you would rather be lounging or reading or cleaning (or insert anything else here) than cooking, then just grab a jar of BBQ sauce from your stash. Pour the sauce over the pork, turn on the slow cooker, and dinner will be ready in 5-8 hours. My husband loves the 2-ingredient version.
Oh, and one final secret: I only brown the meat ahead of time if it is going to be the star of the meal. Like a nice pot roast. Otherwise, I just toss the raw cut of meat directly into my slow cooker and add the other ingredients. I’ve read different things about searing the meat: it locks in the juices, it dries it out, blah, blah, blah. All I know is there are not enough discerning palates in my home to tell the difference. And there is one less pot to wash.
Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Sandwiches
Yields about 8 cups of pulled pork
1 large onion, halved and sliced
3/4 cup tomato salsa (medium heat)
1/3 cup plus 2 T. apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 T. ground cumin
1-3 t. chili powder
2 t. salt
One 4 lb. bone-in pork shoulder or 3 lb. boneless pork loin, trimmed
3 T. tomato paste
hamburger buns, toasted
- In a 4-6 quart slow cooker, combine the onion, salsa, 1/3 cup of the vinegar, the brown sugar, cumin, chili powder, and 1 tsp. salt. Add the pork and turn to coat.
- Cover the slow cooker and cook until the pork is fork-tender, 5 to 6 hours on high or 7 to 8 hours on low.
- Transfer the pork to a cutting board. Using two forks, shred the pork. Discard the bone and fat.
- Put 1 cup of the juices and onions in a large bowl. Whisk in the tomato paste, the remaining 2 Tbs. vinegar, and 1 tsp. salt.
- Add the pulled pork and stir to combine. If the pork seems dry, add more juices as needed.
- Mound the pork on the toasted hamburger buns, add shredded coleslaw, your favorite pickles, whatever you like.
Watch for deals on slow cookers over the holidays (Kohl’s, Amazon, Wal-mart, you name it). But if you’re looking for a recommendation, this 6-quart Cook & Carry Programmable Slow Cooker is one of our favorites. Love the ability to set and lock the lid, perfect for traveling to a barbecue or Sports Of Any Kind watching party.
Looking for more delicious recipes to make in your slow cooker?
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