At the end of a long day, as you stumble across the threshold of your house, ready to collapse from all the things that have been thrown at you, few things can perk you up like the aromas coming from something that has been cooking all day long in your slow cooker. Just knowing that you don’t have to make dinner can allow you to go stretch out on the sofa for few minutes and regain your sanity.
I love to use my slow cooker. I make soups, stews, casseroles, and even hot chocolate. But one of my favorite things to do in my slow cooker is to make something that I can use for several meals. I love when I can cook once and then repurpose what I’ve cooked into lots of different things.
This pulled pork is great for that.
Let’s face it – trying to cook on a budget is not easy. I have a couple of friends who spend less in a week on their groceries than I spend in a day. I seriously don’t know how they do it. There are only so many ways to make beans and rice and rice and beans attractive to your family! Or maybe that’s just my people!
But it’s important to get as much bang for your buck as possible.
I start with a four- to five-pound pork loin. Now that’s a pretty big chunk of meat and it isn’t always cheap. I wait until I find them on sale and then buy several to stock my freezer. The kind I bought was vacuum-sealed in plastic. If you’re squeamish about touching raw meat, removing the pork loin from the plastic may serve as a challenge to you. Just jump in and get it over with! You can place the sealed pork loin in the sink and run cold water over it as you cut open the package. That way, all the “ook” washes away before you even have to touch it.
Peel 3-4 medium yellow onions and slice into 2-inch rings. Place these in the bottom of a large slow cooker. They will make a nice little bed for your pork loin, lifting it off the bottom of the slow cooker and adding fantastic flavor at the same time.
Lay your rinsed pork loin on top of the onions. No need to pat it dry. Just throw it in there! Make sure the fat cap (yes, that’s exactly what it sounds like it is: a cap of fat) is on top.
I like to use a sharp knife to make a shallow slit in the fat cap. It just helps the seasonings get a little further into the pork loin. Next, you’ll salt and pepper it.
Do not add any liquid to the slow cooker. That’s one of the awesome things about a slow cooker. It will make its own moisture – both from the juices of the meat and from the condensation of cooking in an enclosed pot. When I cook a pork loin, I put it on around 6:30 in the morning and it will cook on low until I get home – usually around 4-5. No, that’s not too long. It’s just right to turn that big chunk of meat into perfectly shreddable yumminess! First, you’ll want to remove and discard the fat cap. I just use a big spoon and it comes right off. Then you’ll use some kind of utensils to remove the pork from the slow cooker – tongs, two meat forks, a fork and a spatula – whatever it takes. The meat will probably not stay in one piece during this process. That’s a good thing! I put it into a big, sealable container and use two forks to shred the meat. It will seriously just fall apart. If you’re so inclined, you can wait until the meat is cool and just use your hands to pull it apart. Do what works for you. I’ve just gotta get this show on the road, so I use two forks! After I shred it, I use a slotted spoon to fish out the onions, let them drain for a few seconds, and put them on a cutting board. Use a knife to roughly chop the onions. It won’t take much effort. They’re tender from cooking all day long in a warm bath of liquid pork! Add the onions to the shredded meat and combine. Then use a ladle to add 1 to 2 cups of the liquid from the slow cooker into the meat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine. You will have 8-10 cups of shredded pork
If I know that we aren’t going to eat all of this within a few days, I immediately put half of this into a large zippered bag, squeeze out as much air as possible, lay it flat, and freeze it. Be sure to label the bag with a Sharpie. Once it’s frozen, shredded pork looks a lot like shredded chicken. I usually have both in my freezer because I buy rotisserie chickens on sale, bone and shred them, and freeze the meat until I’m ready to use it.
But there are times when I know – I just know that we’re going to go through that entire bucket-o-pork. It is, after all, so versatile and easy to use in so many different ways. Here are a few of my favorites:
- As is – with the natural juices – on soft buns. There are few things more perfect than a pulled pork sandwich!
- Place a couple of handfuls of shredded pork in a bowl and add your favorite barbecue sauce. Add as much as it takes to make you happy. We place a big scoop on a bun, top with creamy, sweet cole slaw, add the top bun and fall into bliss.
- Use the same barbecue mixture for barbecue pulled pork nachos. Layer tortilla chips, pork, cheese, sour cream, jalapenos – whatever floats your boat. I make them with shredded cheese or with canned nacho cheese. Because the processed stuff is really what your kids want when they have nachos. You know it’s true.
- Use the barbecue mixture on baked potatoes. Top with sour cream, shredded cheese, green onions, and bacon. Okay, maybe not the bacon. That’s kind of overkill!
- Use either the plain or the barbecued pork in quesadillas, enchiladas, or tacos.
- Use your imagination! Now that it’s cooked and seasoned, you can add it to any dish! Casseroles, soups, stews, sandwiches, salads…whatever!
This is such an easy, no fuss recipe! I paid around $10 for this pork loin. The onions were a little less than $2. So this entire pork extravaganza cost less than $12! And I’m going to get at least three totally different meals from it! Talk about more bang for your buck!
Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
- 4-5 pound pork loin, removed from wrapping and rinsed with cold water
- 3-4 medium onions, peeled and sliced into 2-inch rings
- Salt and pepper
Lay onions in the bottom of the slow cooker. Place pork loin on top of onions. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Cook on low for 8-10 hours.
Remove pork from the slow cooker and place into a large container. Use two forks to shred the meat.
Remove onions from the slow cooker, chop slightly, and add to the meat.
Add 1-2 cups of cooking liquid to the container. Add salt and pepper to taste. Combine.
Let me know how else you use your pulled pork! Comment below and tell me your pork story!