There are a million ways to make pork shoulder, and everybody with an opinion has the best way to make it. Fine by me, do it your way, I’m not trying to live your life for you. For me, the real test of porkmanship is using all of that tender, succulent meat and not being completely tired of sandwiches by the end of the weekend. So I’m offering up my favorite recipe with some leftovers ideas at the end.
Shake Says: Try this with our classic Sidecar recipe!
Equipment: Slow cooker
3-5lb-pork shoulder or butt
12 oz. beer Saucy Note: I like the flavor of the pork to really shine, so I tend to use lighter beer, but its fun to play around with flavors and varieties. Mexican beer is great for southwestern style, darker beers impart more malty flavor, and the bitterness of IPAs can stand up to sweeter, spicier rubs. Hard cider is also a nice mix-up, although it makes for a sweeter pork.
Apple Juice-enough to almost cover the meat after the beer is added
Rub – At the very least, rub the meat liberally with salt. You will end up with a simple, pure pork flavor that is easily dressed up with sides and sauce (yay). Otherwise, I like a blend of garlic, onion, and cayenne powders along with the salt. I mix mostly garlic powder (about 2 tbsp.) with a couple shakes each of onion and cayenne. Add equal parts salt, and you’re good to go. Mess around with your own combinations too-other spices, sugar, citrus zest-and see what you like.
Pat pork shoulder dry with paper towels. Season liberally with salt or spice rub. Place in slow cooker fat side up. Pour can of beer around pork-I try to pour off to the side so the rub has a chance of sticking. Fill the crockpot the rest of the way with apple juice (usually the meat sticks out just a little, especially if your shoulder is on the larger side). Set crockpot to low, and ignore for at least 8 hours.
I usually cook my pork for 10-12 hours. Start checking it every hour after 8 hours-it is done when the meat is tender and separates easily with a fork. As the head of this operation, you should definitely taste some to confirm.
Remove meat from sauce and put on cutting board (I recommend the kind with the little moat thingy, pork is juicy.) Shred using two forks, and try not to totally gorge yourself before you’re done pulling.
Enjoy on a bun as a simple sandwich with BBQ sauce, or get creative with Carnitas, breakfast hash, or simple grilled vegetable and pork salad.