As odd as it sounds, pork butt comes from the shoulder of the pig. The upper part of the shoulder is actually referred to as the butt, after the type of cask it was once packed in. In your local grocery, you might find it under the term Boston-style butt or Boston blade roast, and it makes a divine pulled pork. If your work and social calendar are filled to the brim, the slow cooker can be a time and life saver. Pork butt is delicious when braised all day in a slow cooker and then turned into pulled pork.
The Secret's In the Rub
No matter how you cook pulled pork, the secret is in the rub and not just the sauce. Although you aren't searing the rub into the meat as you would over fire, pat the rub into the roast and it will create a layered profile when it mixes with the braising liquid. Try a packet of dry seasoning mix or dip mix, or make a mix at home that includes a base of cumin and granulated garlic, and experiment with adding various spices until you find the combination that suits you. It won't take more than a couple of minutes in the morning to roll the pork in the rub, throw the meat in the cooker, top with the liquid, and go.
Pulled pork that's slow roasted over a red-hot fire is classic, but unless you have a seasoned fire pit and hours to spare, pulled pork in the slow cooker isn't a shabby substitute. The liquid that braises the pork butt creates a moist, flavorful meat that is ideal for sandwiches. Create a mixture of apple cider vinegar, beef stock, and brown sugar to bathe the roast. If your family has an adventurous palate, add some adobo sauce to give the meat some heat. Another idea is to mix your favorite cola beverage with brown sugar and liquid smoke to give the meat an earthier flavor.
Depending on the size of your slow cooker, you might need to halve your roast to fit it inside the pot. And if you don't have 8 or 10 hours left until dinner, slice the roast into steak-thick pieces so they'll cook more quickly. Although the USDA lowered the safe temperature for pork to 145 degrees Fahrenheit, if you're feeding children, make sure that there is no trace of pink in the pork when you get home. You don't want your little ones to eat undercooked meat. When you're certain the meat is cooked to perfection, shred it with two forks to create pulled pork.
The Finishing Touches
Big, yeasty buns showcase juicy pulled pork, but let your imagination, and your wallet, run with the dish. If smaller Parker House or sweet, dinner rolls are on sale, miniature pulled pork sandwiches still round out a great meal or mid-week lunch. Poppy seed or onion rolls add a distinctive taste to pulled pork, and when the pork is topped with crunchy, zesty pickles and your favorite dressing or barbeque sauce, you have a one-dish meal that makes serving and cleanup a pleasure. Coleslaw is the traditional side for pulled-pork sandwiches; buy a bag of shredded coleslaw mix or shred some white and red cabbage, carrots and red onions and mix in bottled coleslaw dressing to your taste.
Kristie Brown is a publisher, writer and editor. She has contributed to magazines, textbooks and online publications. Brown holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Texas at Austin.