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updated: 2/20/2014 6:28 AM

Slow cooking key to perfect pulled pork

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  • Pulled pork is easy, tasty and economical; what could be better than that?

       Pulled pork is easy, tasty and economical; what could be better than that?
    Deborah Pankey | Staff Photographer

 
By Jerome Gabriel

I think the first time my mom made me pulled pork, I was 6 or 7, and I loved it, I do remember that much. Now it's in my Top 20 favorite foods.

When I see pulled pork on a restaurant menu I order it immediately, I've never eaten one that I haven't liked.

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But I never really understood what "pulled" meant; I expected it to be rubbery -- pulled like taffy -- but it really just means that the meat is pulled apart. It's easy to pull apart because it cooks for so long.

The traditional way to cook it is on a barbecue grill or a smoker, but it has been so cold this winter I wanted to try it inside. My mom has always made it in the crockpot. When I walk in the door from school, the house smells warm and sweet, like the best birthday gift.

I found this recipe in "Slow Cooker Revolution" by America's Test Kitchen. It looked easy and sounded good to me. It takes a little time to put the spice rub together, but then you can just relax while it cooks. If you cook it long enough it gets to a good tenderness and makes a sweet and spicy sauce.

A word from Mom: Pulled pork shows up frequently for dinner because it's so affordable. The large pork butt I bought for this recipe cost $1.49 a pound! That same weekend at another store I saw smaller butts for $2.49 a pound, still a reasonable price at the meat counter. I also sometimes make pulled pork using country-style ribs and you could certainly use this spice rub on that cut of meat.

We usually pile pork onto buns, sometimes topping it off with a heap of coleslaw. When we run out of buns, we've taken to eating it stirred into macaroni and cheese. I think that combo makes it into Jerome's Top 10 favorite foods.

Jerome Gabriel, an eighth-grader, has been helping in the kitchen since he could hold a spoon. His mother, Deborah Pankey, is food editor at the Daily Herald.

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