I don’t know who needs to hear this, but Labor Day is supposed to be a day off for those who labor. Traditionally, we’d plan a big barbeque feast with all the trimmings. Now, I’m certainly not opposed to such things, but in the spirit of Labor Day, I’m proposing we go against tradition and prepare a meal that practically makes itself.
It’s time to pull out the easiest pulled pork recipe known to mankind. Requiring only four ingredients, all you need is a big ol’ pork roast, a bottle of root beer (stick with me here, your pork won’t taste like root beer, I promise), salt and your favorite barbeque sauce. See? Four ingredients. Easy.
What cut of pork? For tender, juicy pulled pork, buy the cheap stuff. Choose cuts labeled “shoulder,” “butt” or “Boston butt.” Notwithstanding the name, the butt portion comes from the animal’s shoulder. The name is from Colonial New England and the way the shoulder cuts were shipped back then. The barrels used for shipping were called “butts,” hence the name “pork butts.”
Why root beer? Science! Root beer with salt added acts like a brine and marinade combined. The salt and sugar are absorbed deep into the meat, seasoning it, like a brine. The flavors in root beer — sassafras, nutmeg, anise, molasses, cinnamon, licorice and honey — complement the pork beautifully, acting like a marinade. Root beer adds a subtle sweetness and complexity that partners with BBQ sauce to make this pork melt-in-your-mouth scrumptious.
When buying root beer, it must contain sugar, not artificial sweeteners. This is the time to buy a high-end root beer, but if that stretches your budget, purchase one you can comfortably afford.
ROOT BEER PULLED PORK
Yield: 8-12 servings Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 8-10 hours
What You’ll Need:
1 (6 to 8 pound) pork shoulder roast
1 (12 ounce) bottle of root beer
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups BBQ sauce (bottled or homemade), divided, plus more for serving
- In the crock of your slow cooker, mix the root beer with the salt (but grab the kiddies first to watch it fizz up). Add 1 cup BBQ sauce, and stir to combine.
- Place the pork into the crock (if necessary, cut into chunks to fit in your slow cooker), tossing to coat with sauce; cover and cook on LOW for 8 to 10 hours. While it’s safe to eat at a temperature of 165 F, you want the pork to reach 205 F degrees to be falling-apart tender.
- Remove pork to a cutting board. Reserve 2 cups juices from the crock and discard the rest. Shred the pork with two forks, removing any unwanted fatty bits, and return it to the crock pot. Add 1/2 cup BBQ sauce and 1 cup juices, tossing to coat. Add more juice if needed. Keep warm in the crockpot until ready to serve.
(Oven Directions — Preheat oven to 325 F and follow directions above, placing pork in a Dutch oven. Bake with the lid on for 3 hours, then remove lid for 1 to 2 more hours or until the pork reaches 205 F.)
Serve a generous portion of pulled pork on a toasted bun with additional BBQ sauce on the side. Hawaiian style rolls are ridiculously good with this. Accompany with coleslaw, corn on the cob and pickles for a perfect salute to end-of-summer cuisine.
As the lazy days wind down, I hope the holiday weekend finds your backside firmly planted in the shade and your hardest decision being should the coleslaw be on the bun or on the side. Happy Labor Day, my friends.
Lifestyle expert Patti Diamond is the penny-pinching, party-planning, recipe developer and content creator of the website “Divas On A Dime — Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous!” Visit Patti at www.divasonadime.com and join the conversation on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom. Email Patti at firstname.lastname@example.org
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