Melbourne is the epicentre of food crazes, probably because of how incredibly multicultural a city it is. We adapt to new cultures like nobody’s business and take great pride in adopting their food into our every day lives. In how many other cities will an Italian be able to point you in the direction of the best Chinese dumplings and a Malaysian tell you where to find the best Turkish fare?
The latest fad to take Melbourne by storm is American diner style food – it’s been popular for a while, and I have to admit I’m certainly one of the people flying the flag for it. This may be partially because husband and I have an epic six week trip around America, Canada and Mexico coming up at the end of the year; it may also be because I’m an absolute fiend for burgers, peanut butter and meat in tube form.
One of my favourite things to come from this latest food craze is without a doubt pulled pork. What’s not to love about tender, juicy pork, perfectly seasoned with smokey BBQ sauce, that literally falls apart to the touch?! I’ve had some pretty top notch noms of the Gods at places like Po’ Boy Quarter and Belle’s Night Lunch Diner in Fitzroy, and figured it was about time I gave it a whirl at home. Slow cooker in hand, I consulted a number of recipes, none of which I liked the sound of entirely. I took the components that most struck a cord with me from about four different recipes, then kind of threw them aside and made it up as I went along. That’s usually what happens in my kitchen; I cook best by instinct.
Anyway, I’ve made it a few times now, and with a few tweaks I’ve made the recipe as simple as possible without compromising the taste. The beauty of pulled pork is that it really is delicious when it’s done right, it’s not at all difficult and a big enough batch can mean you’re eating pulled pork for a few days!
– 1 large onion, peeled and sliced
– 1-2kg boneless pork shoulder
– salt, pepper and olive oil
– 1½ cups chicken stock + 1 cup water
– 1 cup good quality smokey BBQ sauce
*** Something to keep in mind here – quantities of ingredients will vary depending on two things: the size of your slow cooker and the size of your pork shoulder. My slow cooker is a smaller one, I usually use a 1kg pork shoulder when I make this, so the amount of water and BBQ sauce I use are relative to that. If you’re using a bigger piece of pork in a bigger slow cooker, you’ll need some more water and more BBQ sauce!
Here’s how to get your pulled pork on:
1. Place half the sliced onion in a layer on the bottom of the slow cooker.
2. Rub the pork with some cracker pepper, sea salt and olive oil. You don’t need to absolutely smother it – for a 1kg pork shoulder, a tablespoon of oil will be enough. Salt and pepper to your taste – I don’t really like a heap of pepper, so I don’t use a lot!
3. Place the pork shoulder in the slow cooker on top of the onion, and layer the remaining onion on top.
4. Pour the chicken stock and the water into the slow cooker – you want the liquid to reach approximately three quarters of the way up the pork, so adjust accordingly!
5. Now, the easy part. Put the lid on, turn your slow cooker on low, and leave it to cook for around 6 – 8 hours. Allow 8 – 10 if your pork shoulder is closer to 2kg.
6. Test the pork after 6 hours by picking it up with a pair of tongs. If it starts to fall apart as you pick it up, it’s ready. If not, give it a little more time. Once it’s done, take it out of the cooker and pour of the liquid and onion.
7. Once it’s cool enough to handle, pull the meat apart, mix the BBQ sauce through it and put it back into the slow cooker for another 30 – 45 minutes.
8. Then, serve it up however you want it. Personally, I like it in slider form with a bit of slaw!