Crockpot Pulled Pork: 1 Pot, 5 Awesome Meals.

Pulled Pork: kennymatic

This is a recipe from NF Rebel Chef Noel Fernando.

If there’s one thing I’ve come to love as I’ve learned to cook over the past few years, it’s being able to look forward to a mouth-watering meal. Few things match the anticipation of coming home to a meal ready and waiting for you in the slow cooker.

In fact, it’s kinda like this.

While bacon often takes a front seat in the Paleo-sphere, today we’re going to branch out from that and explore what other things we can do with the noble pig.

The nice thing about an easy pre-made protein base is that you can use it in a bunch of different types of food.

  • Feel like Mexican tonight? Make tacos!
  • Feel like Asian? Add a homemade sauce and some kimchi!
  • Don’t feel like cooking? Serve it with some quickly nuked veggies!

The possibilities are endless! Here are a few serving suggestions with varying degrees of difficulty and time dedication to get your culinary cogs started.

Ready?

Here we go!

Basic pulled pork: Ingredients

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Serves: 5-6
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 8-10 hours

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 lb pork shoulder – bone in or bone out – it doesn’t matter, whatever you can find in the store works great.
  • 1 tbsp paprika – This comes in varieties, choose your favorite.
  • 1 tbsp chili or chipotle powder – Red chili powder is a staple in the Southwest. I’m not so sure about it’s availability in other parts of the country/world. If you can’t find it, you can opt for chipotle powder (equally delicious).
  • 1 tsp garlic powder – find it in the spices aisle
  • 1/2 tsp salt – (preferably sea salt – if using coarse sea salt, you may need a little more than 1/2 tsp to salt both sides of the shoulder)
  • 1/2 tsp pepper – freshly cracked pepper has the most flavor, but go with what you have
  • 1/2 cup water

Optional add ins:

  • 3-4 slices of bacon – pork plus pork!
  • 4-5 cloves crushed garlic – yes please
  • 1/2 tsp liquid smoke – make sure to read the ingredients before buying! Watch out for added sugar, vegetable and soy oils, and chemicals you can’t pronounce.

Equipment:

  • Measuring spoons
  • Cutting board or plate – to set the pork on
  • Small bowl for mixing spices
  • Crockpot/slow cooker

Instructions:

1. Mix paprika, red chile, garlic powder, and pepper in a small mixing bowl.

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2. Take your pork shoulder out of the package, place on a plate or cutting board, and sprinkle with salt. Massage salt into the meat.

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3. Pour half of the spice mixture onto the roast. Massage the spices in.

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4. Flip the meat and pour the other half of the spice mixture on this side. Massage it in.

(Now wash your hands because they are going to be stained with paprika.)

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5. Place the roast in your crockpot and pour 1/2 cup water over the top of the roast.

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6. Set your slow cooker on “low” for 8-10 hours and wait!

Now, this is the part that sounds the most ominous. Set it and forget it. Don’t worry kids, people have been using crockpots for years and years without trouble. As long as you’re smart about where you put the pot, you should be a-okay. I’ve left mine on for over 24 hours in the past. You will be fine.

If you’re worried, here are some pointers:

  • Be sure your house circuits aren’t over loaded
  • Check your slow cooker for any frayed wires or damage
  • Don’t use it on a meltable countertop or underneath flammable cabinets
  • Be sure to secure pets (the smell of your future dinner could lure them onto countertops)
  • Don’t leave any flammable items near the slow cooker while it’s on.

If you don’t feel comfortable leaving the house while your food is cooking, don’t! Stay in and make sure everything goes smoothly the first time around. Safety first!

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Nine hours later, you’ll have an incredibly delicious roast ready to eat when you get home from work (or when you wake up in the morning)!

Add a few carrots, onions, and diced sweet potatoes to the pot along with your meat and you’ll have a complete meal the minute it finishes cooking. Eat it straight out of the crockpot. We’re not judgin’.

5 Awesome Meals!

If you’re up for the challenge, with just a little extra work you can make one of the many options below and turn your delicious pork into a full meal. Think of this like a choose your own adventure!

  1. Tacos
  2. Asian Lettuce Wraps
  3. Breakfast Bowl
  4. Pork Stuffed Peppers
  5. Caramelized onions and apples with sauteed greens

Looking to expand your cooking skills? I double dog dare ya to take on this culinary challenge: Try one of these recipes each day of the week!

1. Tacos:

Pulled_Pork_001-3_Noel

We all know what these look like. We’ll be doing something similar to the Paleo taco recipe, but we’ll be using pulled pork instead of ground beef this time around.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup pulled pork  (makes about 3 tacos)
  • Guacamole  from our paleo taco recipe!
  • Salsa make sure to read the ingredients before buying!
  • Lettuce leaves – Again, butter lettuce makes the best taco shells, but romaine will do in a pinch.

Assemble ze tacos!

1. Wash and dry your lettuce leaves.
2. Warm up the meat if its been sitting in the fridge.
3. I like to start with the meat. Put some meat on those lettuce leaves. (It’s okay to use your hands.)
4. Plop a spoonful of guac on top of the meat.
5. Add salsa, tomatoes, a little cheese if you can handle dairy, Be sure to add any of your other favorite taco toppings!

2. Asian Lettuce Wraps

Pulled_Pork_007

I have been OBSESSED with Korean pulled pork tacos since having them from a food truck in Portland, OR last summer, so I decided to try my hand at making my own…Paleo style!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup pulled pork – Makes about 3 tacos
  • 1/2 an avocado – Slice that baby
  • 1/2 a cucumber (julienned) – I like to cut the cucumber in half long ways first, scrape the seeds out with a spoon, then cut it into matchsticks.
  • Asian style sauce –  Any asian sauce of your choice will do if you’re in a bind for time. Feel free to also use a paleo alternative (plain ol’ coconut aminos and vinegar will do just fine).
  • 1/4 cup kimchi – Kimchi is a spicy pickled cabbage. Sounds weird and it’s a bit of an acquired taste, so if you know you like it, use it! If not, give it a try, omit it entirely, or try plain sliced cabbage plus chile paste instead.
  • Lettuce Leaves – Just like with tacos, butter lettuce is best!
  • Sesame Seeds (optional)

For the Asian inspired sauce:

 

Pulled_Pork_006

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp coconut aminos  You can substitute soy sauce if you can handle soy.
  • 1 tbsp vinegar – I like to use rice vinegar because it’s not as harsh tasting as a lot of the other options, but any other vinegars will do.
  • 1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil  For that extra Asian flair.
  • 1/2 tsp red chile paste – You can find this in Asian sections of the grocery store, be sure to read the ingredients on the label first. No soy or unpronounceables.
  • 1 clove garlic – Peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 tsp honey – (optional)

Mix all these together in a small bowl. No problemo.

Now assemble the wraps!

1. Wash and dry your lettuce leaves and warm up the pork if it’s cold.

2. Place pork on the leaves first.

3. Pile on the toppings. I like to do it in this order: Pork, kimchi, cucumbers, avocado slices, spoonful of sauce.

Enjoy!

3. Breakfast Bowl

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My breakfast philosophy is “put an egg on it”. Yep, I eat left over paleo spaghetti and shepherd’s pie as breakfast by putting an egg on them. I know, I’m weird.

This recipe follows that philosophy, and adds a little sweet potato hash goodness from Nom Nom Paleo to make it a little more special. If you don’t feel like making the hash or don’t have a food processor, don’t worry, it’s equally tasty without it!

Ingredients: 

  • 1 serving of Nom Nom Paleo’s sweet potato hash.
  • 1/2 cup pulled pork – use as much as you like.
  • 2 eggs – pastured organic eggs are the bee’s knees, I’m told. Personally, I eat so many eggs that I can’t afford this, so I use regular ol’ eggs and buy organic occasionally.
  • 1 tbsp your preferred fat (optional) – For cooking the eggs. Butter, ghee, or bacon fat are my favorites.

Instruction:

1. Make the sweet potato hash. Do it. (It also doesn’t hurt to make some bacon while you’re at it).

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2. Now make the eggs! Heat up your pan. Once the pan is hot, add some butter or ghee and let it melt.

4. Add your eggs! Here’s where you really choose your own adventure. I like mine fried, but you can make yours scrambled, poached, or whatever! Adding some extra veggies to your scrambled egg sounds like a good way to start the day off right!

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5. If your pulled pork has been sitting in the fridge, warm it up in the microwave or in a warm pan.

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6. Pile all your ingredients in a bowl! I like to put the potatoes on the bottom, pulled pork second, and eggs on top!

Serve with bacon and coffee. Yum!

4. Pork stuffed peppers:

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In the past, I’ve had trouble with the spiciness of stuffed jalapenos, but I’m growing to like them.

For those of us who have trouble with super spicy foods, I’ve added the option of stuffed sweet peppers here too. And anything wrapped in bacon is pretty much a no-brainer for the paleo community.

If you can handle dairy, by all means, add cream cheese or feta to the inside of these babies. Crazy easy, crazy tasty.

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Ingredients: 

  • 5 peppers – These can be jalapenos or miniature sweet peppers. Here, the green ones are jalapenos and the red ones are sweet peppers.
  • 5 slices of bacon – In the picture I used 1/2 slice of bacon for each pepper, but I wouldn’t suggest that much, as most of the bacon fell of while cooking. Boo hoo. Hey, extra bacon!?
  • 1/2 cup pulled pork – This is an estimate and depends on the size of the peppers that you have.
  • Creme cheese or feta (optional) – Use only if you can handle dairy, grass fed is the best!

Instructions:

1. Start by washing your peppers, then chop off the tops.

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2. Take a small knife and cut the pepper in half but ONLY ON ONE SIDE. Scrape out the seeds.

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3. Fill the pepper with cheese on one side (if using) and pulled pork on the other side.

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4. Put the jalapeno back together, wrap it in bacon, and secure in place with a toothpick.

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5. Place the peppers on a preheated grill for about 20 minutes, until the bacon is cooked and the peppers are roasted. (Turn every 5 minutes or so).

5. Caramelized onions and apples with sauteed greens:

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I know this sounds weird, but there’s something magical about caramelized onions and pork when mixed together. This makes a super easy low maintenance meal. And if you’re not into onions, opt out of the onion part and just use leafy greens! Everyone can use more greens in their diet. I chose Kale here, but feel free to use spinach, collard greens, chard, or whatever you have on hand!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2  yellow onion
  • 1 apple – A small apple is fine. I like Fuji, personally.
  • 1/2 bunch kale, chard, spinach, or your favorite dark leafy green
  • 1/2 cup pulled pork
  • 1 tbsp of your favorite fat – butter, ghee, or olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic – (or your favorite) vinegar
  • Salt and pepper – to taste

Instructions: 

1. Preheat your pan.

2. As the pan is heating, peel and slice your onion. This time, we’re not dicing it. Cut the onion into thin slices, then chop the medallions in half (this doesn’t have to be super accurate). We just want the onions sliced thinly so that they’ll cook quickly.

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3. Once the pan is warm, add your oil to it. Let it warm up.

4. Put your onions into the pan and coat them in oil. Add a little salt and pepper. Let the onions sit, and resist the urge to stir them.

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Note* Caramelizing onions requires patience. They need to cook on low heat for about 20 minutes total with minimal stirring so that they don’t burn. This makes the onions taste sweet and savory and makes an awesome addition to lots of dishes.

5. As your onions are cooking, peel and slice your apple.

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(If you’re lazy, you don’t have to peel the apple. I don’t always peel it.)

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6. Once the onions are translucent, add the apple to the onions and stir them together, making sure to coat the apples in oil also. Now let them sit on low heat together. Flavor romance. Oh la la!

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These will sit and cook on low for another 15-20 minutes. Only stir them once or twice during the entire cooking time. You want the onions and apples to brown, but don’t let them burn. I know it can be tempting, but don’t turn up the heat! This will cook them too fast and they’ll burn.

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Once the onions are finished cooking, you can move them to a bowl and sauté your greens. Alternately, if you have a second pan, go ahead and saute the greens at the same time.

If you need a refresher on sauteing greens:

1. Wash the greens. If using kale, remove the stem and tear or chop.

2. Add them to a preheated pan and pour oil over the top, stir them together so that they’re coated with oil.

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3. Add salt, pepper, and red pepper flake (optional)

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4. Let the greens cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

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You’ll know the greens are cooked when they’ve turned a darker, shiny green. (for a refresher, watch this video but omit the bacon and tomato part.)

5. Once the greens are cooked, remove from heat and add your vinegar. Stir it in quickly being careful not to inhale any vinegar steam. It burnsssss!

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Assemble!

I like to assemble this festive bowl o’ stuff with kale on the bottom, caramelized onions and apples in the middle, and pork on the top. Mix it all together and you have a tasty meal!

Take it slow!

Crock Pot: SaucyGlo

Well, there you have it – six ways of using your slow cooked pulled pork.

Crockpot meals are some of my favorites. They’re low maintenance, easy, and it’s awesome to walk into your kitchen and have a meal ready and waiting for you after work.

A slow cooker can be an investment for a budding chef, but in my opinion, it’s an appliance worthy of consideration. It makes meal prep so freaking easy…a caveman could do it.

Do you have a favorite pulled pork recipe that I missed?

What other crockpot meals have you enjoyed that you’d like to see?

-Noel

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Photos: SaucyGlo, Kennymatic

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79 thoughts on “Crockpot Pulled Pork: 1 Pot, 5 Awesome Meals.

  1. I like our slow cooker a lot – have made a bunch of things in it that were all pretty simple. Cuban black beans, New orleans red beans & rice w. andouille sausage. Working on incorporating more paleo into the crockpot now that I’m transitioning to a cleaner diet.
    There’s a site at http://www.cheaterchef.com/ that has some cool suggestions for fairly authentic-tasting barbecue in a crockpot! Good call on checking out the ingredients on the Liquid smoke.

  2. Nice. Crockpots are super versatile. Glad you’re a practiced cook with them! There are tons of paleo crock pot recipes out there. Get after it!

  3. This looks amazing. And the sweet potato hash is going to change my life, I can already tell.

  4. Ive been making pulled pork in a crock pot for a couple months now. Basically just put the pork in, dump a 16 oz can of pineapple on top and sprinkle some ginger over it. Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours and your done. Zero prep. Zero mess. I wake up throw it together and go to work and its waiting for me when i get home.

  5. Wah I want to sign up for Nerd Fitness Camp so badly but my school semester will be back in session! 🙁

  6. I would like to get involved into cooking but I am nothing close to it and I am not a good cook at all. I can only make eggs with spinach for breakfast, sandwiches, salads, cereal+milk. I want to learn more and more but I really don’t know where to start cuz it looks very hard to me to do all of that. It takes a long amount of time and I don’t want to get frustrated. Any help&tips are appreciated. Thank you in advance! GO #NERDFITNESS!

  7. Crockpots are the best. You can do something very similar for Chicken. For a tasty salsa chicken recipe just toss 4-5 Chicken Breasts in a crockpot with your favorite taco seasoning, a jar of your favorite salsa, some cream of chicken soup and if you’d like, corn and beans. Voila. Amazing shredded chicken ready 8 hours later. So easy and tough to screw up.

  8. Not only is this great, but the timing could not be better. the wife and I are doing our slow-cooker prep tonight!

  9. I love my slow cooker but it has been seriously neglected since I became vegan. The pulled pork looks amazing and it would be really ace to see some equally tasty clean vegan (and high protein) crockpot recipes if anyone can recommend them 🙂

  10. If you have a grill with a lid make it on that. You’ll do 4lb in 8 hours easy getting an internal temperature between 185 and 205F before it pulls. Plus you get to add some applewood smoke and get out in the outside air!

  11. Interesting suggestion. Do you have a sous vide cooker or do you use the Food saver bag/Cooler method? This technique is one I’ve been wanting to try.

  12. a. I’ve been eating crockpot pork for about 2 months now and was starting to get really bored. So thanks for the recipes! b. That last picture of the old school Crock Watcher? That’s the EXACT one I’m using! Used to be my grandma’s!

  13. Nom Nom! It’s 11pm and this post makes me want to run to the grocery store and get cooking. Looks yummy!!

  14. Oh man, your timing is so good. I was just thinking, “ok, TODAY” and trying to figure out what my first small thing should be. I was thinking I should start with cooking dinner because you always talk about how food is such a big part of this. But cook what? So I look in my inbox and there you are – crock pot pulled pork. So I stopped by the grocery store on the way home tonight and grabbed a pork shoulder and things to make tacos and kale. I washed off the slow cooker and around this time tomorrow we’ll find out if we’re geniuses or not. Thanks 🙂

  15. Glad you like it, and yes, the hash is crazy easy. Even I was surprised. Definitely try it!

  16. Nice suggestion. I’m not sure if I trust my grill. Especially since I still burn everything on the low temp setting. But that smokey flavor from it is divine I’m sure. 🙂

  17. Awe man. I hate that feeling. Especially since you’ll have to wait 8 hours for this recipe to cook. But as soon as you can get it started the better! Let us know how it goes!

  18. I always forget about cilantro. I’m not a huge fan, but that’s a great suggestion for those of you who do like it! Add what you can to make it your own! That’s what kitchen adventures are all about!

  19. Haha awesome. I think my grandma has the same one too. Hope you like the recipes! Let me know how it goes!

  20. This is probably true. Though I have no never cooked using the sous vide method. I wouldn’t even know where to begin! Got some things to learn, I do.

  21. Awe man. Clean, high protein, vegan, slow cooker recipes. Now that’s a challenge. I’ll let ya know if I find any. 🙂

  22. I’ve heard a suggestion like this before. It sounds super delicious. It’s on my list! Thanks for the tip mcnater!

  23. Eggs with spinach are a great start. Everyone has to begin somewhere! Now that you’ve mastered eggs, it’s time to level up! Try Steve’s recipe for chicken stir fry. It’s not too much different than scrambling eggs and it’s quick! Just mix some veggies and chicken in a pan until it’s cooked. Follow this recipe and lemme know how it goes! Good luck! Here’s the link to the recipe:

    http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2011/02/21/a-decent-meal/

  24. I have a sous vide cooker, and it is very easy to use, and very safe. Lots of cheap cuts become tender and yummy when cooked overnight.

  25. I’m a charcoal user with a weber one touch so when I say low temp setting? If you’re on gas can you turn on only one burner and put the meat the other end? You want grate (not lid) temps of 220F ideally but pulled pork works upto 325f just with a bit drier bark. Or after it’s smoked, a bark has formed and it’s hit the stall (internal temperature doesn’t change due to water evaporation just like the carnaugh cycle in thermodynamics) then foil it and crank the temp to speed up at the loss of some bark. Oh and you’ll want a tray underneath to catch some of the juices to make a sauce/gravy with!

  26. Also if you can do pulled pork you can do brisket which has to be one of the leanest cuts out there for those on low cal diets or with a little bit of cap fat for the paleos. Did one last week and got 13 meals out of 7lb and some of those were big chunks of meat!

  27. I don’t know exactly what they do, but I also add a few bay leaves to my crock pot carnitas. Oh, and I use chicken broth. YUM-O!

  28. Pulled Pork on the weber or any large size kettle grill is pretty forgiving. I’ve had my grill-level temp fluctuate between 215 and 300 and still had great results. Use the “snake” or Manion Method (google it!) Foil it for an hour, rest it in a closed cooler afterward for an hour (with foil still on), pull and sauce, or don’t, it’s up to you. The cool thing is there are detailed instructions available all over the web to do this and it’s fun to experiment. Great meals for days and it freezes well and you can really mix it up with rubs and sauces. Yeah, and definitely save the juice in the drip tray (once it separates and the fat solidifies, scoop out a corner of the fat and pour off the juice into a measuring cup, then make gravy or just mix some back into the meat!) Great suggestion UltanBoyd! Haven’t tried a brisket yet but will before the summer’s out, hopefully!

  29. I love pulled pork in the crockpot, it’s so easy and delicious!

    I recommend wearing gloves when cutting up jalapenos. The capsaicin that makes them spicy can burn your hands, and any other body parts you touch. The burn doesn’t set in for a few hours, and it’s not fun!

  30. I’ve had a few overactive crockpots in my day. They seem to only take 2-3 hours to cook a large pork butt, even when it’s on low. Is there something that happens after those first few hours that further breaks it down or something? The worst thing is having chewy tough meat.

  31. Put some liquid smoke in the water before setting the crock pot. When it’s done, put it on a bun with some BBQ sauce and cole slaw for a nice sandwich. You can also put it on tortilla chips with some type of cheese for nachos!

  32. I’ve been hearing a lot about this kimchi lately and have been meaning to try it, but can’t find it anywhere. In what part of the grocery store would it be located?

  33. Pulled pork is something I have pretty often here in Waco! I even took made some for our Crossfit BBQ a few weekends ago at crossfitwacobox.com! I’ve been wanting to try sweet potato hash for awhile so this was just another push to get in there and fix it!

  34. Ohhhh charcoal. That makes so much more sense. Thanks for the clarification! Your recipes sound amazing! I hope I can try them someday.

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