February 7, 2013 by E.
I know it’s been a while since my last food-related post. Mostly, I’ve been focusing on catching you up with all of A. and I’s (mine and A’s? A’s and my?) escapades, because in addition to telling you about the less-than-conventional beginning to our relationship, I also want to share with you how we’ve evolved into a normal couple (the kind that doesn’t have to go sneaking off into cruise ship bathrooms when we’re feeling frisky).
But all that is going to have to wait just a little longer, because oh my goodness, I have just found a new favorite kitchen toy!
Say hello to the Breville Fast-Slow Cooker. It’s a slow cooker (crock pot), pressure cooker, AND steamer, all in one compact, easy-to-use, relatively light-weight, beautiful machine.
This baby was a birthday present from my mother, who knows how much I love to cook (and also wanted me to test it out before she went and bought it). But even if the Fast-Slow cooker hadn’t been a gift, the $180 price tag is so reasonable for the quality and functionality it delivers.
I’ve been using it like crazy these past few days. Slow cooker soups, pressure cooked soups, pressure cooked oatmeal, even steamed chicken wings. Like I said, I never thought I’d use such a large machine so frequently to feed only 2 people, but this is so easy to set up, clean-up is a dream, and the food turns out perfectly!
Monday, A. started his new job, so to celebrate his big First Day, I cooked one of his favorites – pulled pork. The following recipe was adapted from the recipe his friend uses when he smokes the pork butts. It can be used with any slow cooker/crock pot, or even by using a dutch oven (just make sure you don’t leave it unattended for too long). The BBQ is, of course, in the superior Eastern North Carolina style (vinegar based). If you like Western NC style, you’ll have to add a whole lot of ketchup, sugar, and other things that don’t belong with pulled pork. I’d like to say, “just kidding!”, but really – Eastern style is better….
1 Boston butt or pork shoulder (see Note 1)
2 Tbs oil (olive, canola, vegetable, whatever you have on hand)
For the Rub:
2 Tbs ground black pepper
2 Tbs paprika
2 Tbs salt
1 Tsp mustard powder
1 Tsp cayenne pepper (or, to taste)
For the Sauce:
2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 cup water
2 Tbs salt
2 Tbs sugar
Remaining rub (see above)
Note 1: A “Boston butt” is a cut of pork that comes from the area on the upper part of the shoulder (Wiki explanation and diagram here). Our butcher didn’t have any Boston butts when we shopped, so we used bone-in pork shoulder instead. Total weight (precooking) was a little over 3 pounds, and it would have fed 4 people. But pulled pork is great for left-overs, so don’t be afraid to cook a little extra!
First, you’ll want to trim of any extra skin and/or fat. Our shoulder came skin-on…definitely want to get that off before cooking.
Next, make your rub. Add all ingredients to a small bowl and mix gently.
Heat oil in a large cast iron skillet, Dutch oven, or directly into the bowl of your Breville Fast-Slow Cooker (oh, how I love this function!) Pat the rub generously onto all sides of the pork. You should have some left over – it’ll go into the sauce to cook with the pork. Once oil is hot, using tongs (or tongs and a spatula, if the pork is to heavy), lower the pork gently into the pan. Cook for 2 – 3 minutes each side, until all sides are nicely browned.
Once pork is brown on all sides, remove from pan. If using the Breville, discard extra oil, but leave any browned bits stuck to the bottom. Into the base of your slow cooker, pour apple cider vinegar, water, salt, and remaining rub mixture. Stir to combine.
Add pork to your slow cooker, and set the timer for 6 – 8 hours.
Once your slow cooker tells you the pork is ready, remove pork (gently!) from the slow cooker. This should be very difficult, as the pork will be practically falling off the bone. Mmmmm.
Allow pork to cool slightly, then use two forks to shred the meat. While the pork is cooling, you can reduce the sauce to intensify the flavor. Transfer the sauce to a large pot or Dutch oven, or use the sear function on the Breville. Cook over high heat for 15 – 20 minutes, until sauce has evaporated by about 25%. The sauce should not thicken.
Spoon sauce over pulled pork and eat!
Alternatively, if you have the patience of a saint, you can refrigerate the sauce for 6 – 8 hours or overnight, until the residual pork fat solidifies enough for you to skim it off. If you have a fancy gravy separator (see example here) you break out for Thanksgiving and other Major Holidays, that would come in handy too.
I hope you enjoy this easy, cheap, and filling recipe! A. certainly did.
Disclaimer: I was not paid off by Breville in any way, shape, or form. I didn’t even get a free copy of the recipe book. If my review sounds too positive, it’s because this really is a great kitchen tool. The one complaint I have is that the machine requires a minimum of 4 cups of volume, and if you’re cooking rice, quinoa, or oatmeal, that’s a lot of food for 2 people. But then again, I like to eat a lot, so this really isn’t much of a complaint.