Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Apple Cider Pulled Pork

In the most uncharacteristically Northern Illinois way, it has been warm here the last few days.  My heart wants so badly to believe that the warmth is here to stay, but unfortunately my brain knows better.  My brain knows that it is only a matter of time before Mother Nature plays what must be known as the cruelest April Fools' Day joke there is... Spring is coming!  Go for long walks, sit in the sun!  What, 2 feet of snow?  Gotcha!  April Fools!

I promise, living in the Midwest has only made me a little bit bitter.  And even if I do know better, I can't help but daydream on this beautiful 70 degree day of the better things to come: spring, warmth, sunlight past 6 pm in the evening, fresh corn and tomatoes, cooking in a tank top and trying your best to minimize the amount of time your oven spends heating up your apartment just so your AC can cool it right down again, and lots, lots and lots, of pulled pork sandwiches.

Ben and I are both big fans of the pulled pork.  We were spoiled quite a bit with me living in South Carolina for awhile and any trip to the south isn't quite complete until we've had a BBQ pulled pork sandwich.  So when I told Ben all week long that I was making pulled pork for our Wednesday dinner together, his mind saw shredded pork smothered in some sort of BBQ.  And even though I gave him this instead, he was still quite happy.

Ben thought immediately that it was BGCB material, however I have my suspicions he's just trying to fill the thing out.  I think it has potential.  It's different and good, but the tang I was expecting from the apple cider wasn't there as much as I had hoped.  I used Simply Apple and Hornsby's Hard Cider, so I might play around with my ciders.  There was also A LOT of onions.  The initial recipe called for 4.  Being the kind, considerate girlfriend that I am, I cut it down to 3 (Ben is still convinced he doesn't like onions but only when he can see them...) and sliced them up the night before.  When I was assembling the next morning (did I mention this was a slow cooker meal!?  Perfect for those warm days...), it just looked like way too much.  I used a little more than half the onions I sliced up the night before.  And there was still a lot of onion.  The taste doesn't over power or anything, there was just onion every where you looked.  In the end the verdict was quite good:  I had a happy boyfriend and a full stomach myself.  I just need to tinker a bit more...

Bloggerversary....  Hey!  In case you didn't notice, someone's bloggerversary is coming up... (I've been debating about celebrating it the way I do my birthday... all week long!)  I've ordered myself a nice little bloggerversary gift just for the occasion.  Excited?  Me too.  I'll break it out on the big day!! (March 31st, just in case you were planning on sending gifts...)

Apple Cider Pulled Pork
adapted from Food 52

1 bottle hard apple cider
1-2 c. 100% apple cider
1 c. ketchup
1/2 c. dark brown sugar
1 Tbsp. paprika
1 Tbsp. cumin
1 Tbsp. garlic powder
2 Tbsp. siracha
2 onions, thinly sliced
4 lbs. pork shoulder

To make sauce, measure out hard cider and add enough apple cider to measure 3 cups of liquid.  Whisk in ketchup, brown sugar, paprika, cumin, garlic powder and siracha.

Place half of the onions in 4.5 qt or larger crock pot.  Place pork shoulder on top (if you have time, brown pork shoulder on stove top first).  Pour sauce over top and cover with remaining sliced onions.  cover slow cooker and cook on low for 8-10 hours, until pork is fall apart with forks tender.

Remove pork from crock pot and set aside.  Turn crock pot to high heat and let sauce boil, reduce and thicken, skimming any fat from surface that shows up.  Using hands or forks or both, shred pork.  I kept mine separate (to help Ben with his onion fear), but you could also mix the pork back in the sauce and onion mixture.  Scoop pork and onions onto buns and make sure to top with sauce.  Enjoy!

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