Thursday, December 9, 2010

Down in the Dirty South

Pulled pork is a form of barbecue that gets cooked over slow heat, typically in a slow cooker or smoker. It cooks low and slow, softening the connective tissue in the meat so that you can "pull" it apart. There are arguments in the South over whose pork reigns supreme! Multiple cities and states in the lower half of our country all claim to have the best pulled pork but the secret is all in their sauce - check it out!

North Carolina - EAST (vinegar based sauce) vs WEST (heavy ketchup based sauce)
South Carolina - mustard based, vinegar based, and light and heavy tomato based
Memphis - tomato and vinegar based sauce, pork is usually rubbed with dry seasoning first and served with sauce on the side
Kansas City - sweet and spicy sauce usually containing molasses
Alabama - traditional and unusual mayonnaise based white sauce
Kentucky - Worcestershire and vinegar based sauce (sometimes bourbon is added)
Louisiana - hot and spicy with Cajun and Creole flavors
Georgia - ketchup, mustard and vinegar based sauce
Texas - BEEF (brisket) not pork... multiple flavors and styles (typically spicy!)

The recipe for pulled pork that I stumbled upon on Better Homes & Gardens' website is definitely a keeper. It is such a fast meal because you basically add the ingredients into your slow cooker and let that do all the work! When you get home from work, the smell of barbecue welcomes you into the house - it's amazing, to say the least. I already made this recipe twice this week - once in quesedilla form with some melted cheese and once on small soft dinner rolls.

3-3 1/2 lb boneless pork shoulder
1 cup chopped sweet onion (1 large)
6 cloves garlic, minced (I used 3 big cloves)
1 12oz bottle chili sauce*
2 tbsp packed brown sugar
2 tbsp cider vinegar
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp chili powder (I used 1 tsp instead)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1. Trim fat from meat. If necessary, cut pork to fit a 4-5 quart slow cooker. Place pork, onion and garlic in slow cooker. In a medium bowl, combine chili sauce, brown sugar, cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, chili powder, salt and pepper. Pour over pork in cooker. (I don't even bother dirtying another bowl - I make sure the pork, onion and garlic is touching the bottom of the slow cooker and then add all the other ingredients over the top.)
2. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 10-11 hours or on high-heat setting for 5-6 hours. Remove pork from cooker, reserving juices. Using two forks, shred pork, discarding any fat. Skim fat from juices. Add enough juices to the pork to moisten. Place 2-cup portions of pork in airtight containers and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Makes 6 cups. Calories - 386 / Fat - 13g
*Chili sauce picture taken from

There is no doubt a dispute in the South on which region has the best BBQ sauce. Each of them have different recipes for success but they all put their heart into their food. I am more than happy sampling them all in an attempt to personally make that decision but that more than likely will not be happening anytime soon. For now, I will settle for eating outstandingly delicious food with family and friends! Tutti Mangia!


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