Saturday, December 1, 2012

Slow Cooker Rootbeer Pulled Pork

December! How did that happen!? I guess I've been a little distracted lately, considering…I started a new job! I was at my old job for 5 years, and leaving felt a bit like a breakup. But I assured them it wasn't them. It was me. And it was an awesome opportunity to put the last 5 years of knowledge and skills to the test, and step out of my comfort zone. Taking a leap is always a bit scary, but I highly recommend it. I can't even tell you how much this change reinvigorated me. I cleaned out my closet and updated my wardrobe. Joined a gym and started working out. My new office, though only a few blocks from the old one, is introducing me to a new part of town, so I'm even seeing my city in a whole new light. I feel ten pounds lighter. If only I really was ten pounds lighter… 

Speaking of losing weight… good thing I joined that gym, because winter cooking and holiday baking are ramping up. And I love winter cooking and holiday baking… like, a lot! Who wants to eat a salad on a cold, stormy day? Not this girl! I want something warm and hearty, the kind of dish you can imagine yourself tucking into while sitting around a fire after a day on the slopes. Ok, so I don't actually do winter sports. But you know what I mean. I'm talkin' soups, stews, saucy slow cooked meats. Slow cooked anything, really! 

This slow cooker pulled pork has become one of my faves. I usually do pork shoulder in the oven, and I make a mean pork shoulder.  But this one, this one in the slow cooker with rootbeer, it's something special. It smells unbelievable while it's cooking, so it's probably best for you to be out of the house for a few hours, so you don't go crazy while it' simmering away all day. I served it with coleslaw (this is my favorite basic slaw recipe), buns, and a tangy hot mustard BBQ sauce, but it's so good you could skip the extras all together (though I would really recommend that mustard sauce…on everything!). Try a spoonful of pork atop a baked sweet potato, mixed with pasta or rice, or even just in a dish on its own. 

Slow Cooker Rootbeer Pulled Pork

3 lbs. pork shoulder, cut into 3-4 large chunks
canola oil
1 onion, diced
1 bottle root beer 
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon oregano
1 teaspoon chili paste (or more, depending on your spice preference)
1 tablespoon tomato paste 
salt and pepper

Whisk together onion through tomato paste, salt and pepper to taste, set aside. 

Pat the pork chunks dry, and season liberally with salt and pepper. Heat a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat, and add enough oil to coat the bottom. Starting with one chunk at a time, brown pork on all sides. Add pork to slow cooker, top with marinade, and cook on high for around six hours. 

The pork should be tender enough to easily shred with a fork. I like to just do it right there in the slow cooker, then stir it up in the sauce, and serve a big, saucy heaping scoop…into my mouth. 
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