An Alternative Thanksgiving Recipe – with Pulled Pork

Think of Thanksgiving and you’re almost bound to think of turkey – a Thanksgiving without turkey is a Thanksgiving most Americans wouldn’t even want to think about.

Turkey and Thanksgiving go together like Kirk and Spock. If you’re celebrating Thanksgiving in the UK, however, this presents a bit of a problem as turkey is also the main event for Christmas dinner. And who the heck wants to eat two turkey dinners in the space of a month?!

That’s why I propose an alternative main dish for UK Thanksgiving celebrations, another true American classic that the whole family will love – pulled pork.

Pulled Pork

Pulled pork, in case you ain’t familiar, is the world’s greatest culinary creation, small shredded strips of pork ‘pulled’ from a shoulder joint and smothered in good ol’ fashioned American BBQ sauce. Best of all, it goes with just about anything!

A lot of folks think that making pulled pork is a big and complicated job that requires special equipment but it really ain’t – all you need is a slow cooker or oven. Although it takes a while to cook, you can go off and do other stuff while it does.

So, in this special Thanksgiving edition of Cooking with Alan, I present you with two ridiculously easy pulled pork recipes – one for the slow cooker, and one for the oven.

Oh, and don’t forget to stock up on a LOT of BBQ sauce – J.R’s, Sweet Baby Ray’s, Bull’s Eye, A&W or whatever else you might prefer!

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

Alright, so the basic ingredients for both of these recipes are pretty much the same, with some small differences. This particular recipe can be done in your average slow cooker, so long as the pork shoulder can fit into the crock pot. Oh, and always use pork shoulder – it really is the best cut for this kinda thing.

Anyhow, this is what you’re going to need:

  • 1 pork shoulder
  • 1 large onion, chopped into quarters and sliced
  • Salt and pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • 240 ml of BBQ sauce
  • 120ml of vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon of liquid smoke (optional)

Got all that? Sweet. Here’s what we’ve gotta do with it:

  • Put the shoulder (the pork, not your own) into your crockpot.
  • Add chopped onion, salt, pepper and a sprinkle of garlic powder to the mix.
  • Cover and cook for 9 to 11 hours! Watching the pot won’t make it cook quicker (as I found out), so go and watch the original Star Wars trilogy or something (if you don’t own it, you’ve probably got time to go to the store and buy it too).
  • Dry your tears from the epic final scenes of Star Wars and/or wake up and get back into the kitchen to drain all the juices from the meat and then shred the meat up. Add vinegar and BBQ sauce and then…cook for another hour. Jeez!
  • Wow, that was a long hour. But we’ve finally done it; take the meat off the heat, serve up and enjoy!

Oven Cooked Pulled Pork

Okay, so some folks probably won’t consider this to be real pulled pork but heck, as far as I’m concerned, if it tastes good then I don’t really care. This is a pretty awesome recipe and only takes a third of the time of the slow cooked recipe!

  • 1 pork shoulder (preferably boneless)
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • ½ teaspoon of ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon of chilli powder
  • ½ teaspoon of ground mustard
  • 240ml apple juice
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder

Now we’ve got all that stuff, it’s time to cook:

  • Heat your oven to 230C.
  • Combine the salt, pepper, garlic powder, chilli powder, onion powder and ground mustard in a bowl, doing your best not to make a huge, stinking mess of your kitchen (trust me, it leaves a potent stench!)
  • Place your pork in a roasting tray and rub the spice mix all over.
  • Roast the pork for one hour, and then remove it from the oven. Don’t leave the tray on top of anything that might burn, unless you wanna meet some fire dudes.
  • Reduce the temperature of the oven to 160C.
  • Pour the cup of apple juice over the roast and sprinkle chopped garlic over the top.
  • Cover the pan with tin foil (tightly) and return to the oven for 2 to 2 ½ hours.
  • Remove it from the oven, shred the pork and mix it in with your BBQ sauce – you’re ready to serve baby!

So you’ve got your pulled pork – now what? Well, the most popular way to serve it is between a big ol’ roll with copious amounts of ‘slaw and barbecue sauce. Seriously, sandwiches don’t get any better.

If you wanna try something a bit fancier though, I’d recommend any of the following:

Pulled pork is great to experiment with, so if you’re planning a Thanksgiving feast, why not give it a try? And then share your recipes and tips with me on Twitter @AStoneHCO, on Facebook or in the comments. Bon appétit, Stoneites!