Most of the time I bypass the big roasts at the meat counter in favor of smaller cuts that cook more quickly. But when I’m entertaining a crowd, this is one of the easiest recipes I know, with flavor that rivals the pulled pork from your favorite barbecue joint. It takes very little prep time and just requires a little advance planning.
I use a center cut pork loin for this recipe because of its lower fat content. Other cuts, such as shoulder or Boston Butt, will work well too, but they render a lot more fat that you will want to skim off before shredding the meat.
The secret with this recipe is that time is on your side. Hours of braising in a slow cooker (slow cooker) results in a pork roast so tender you can break it up (pull it) easily with a fork. There’s real science behind the use of a slow cooker for this recipe. In his seminal book, On Food and Cooking, Harold McGee explains that long and slow cooking transforms meat’s tough collagen tissue into softer gelatin. The key to this tenderizing process, says McGee, is to keep the temperature well below the boiling point. That’s why a slow cooker is the ideal way to cook pork for this dish.
The other secret with this recipe is to cook the roast on top of a halved onion, which permeates the meat and broth with a subtle onion flavor. Red wine vinegar adds acidity and my Kansas City Steak Rub provides aromatic spicy-sweet notes of black pepper, paprika, mustard, brown sugar and dry molasses. Also, with its rich brown color, the Kansas City rub removes the need to sauté and brown the roast before slow cooking.
Start this Kansas City Pulled Pork recipe in late morning; cook it on high and it will be ready by dinnertime (or the kickoff, on the East coast). Or, start the dish the night before and cook it on low for 10 hours. You’ll wake up to some delicious aromas!