Dr.Pepper Pulled Pork

2013-09-09 20.37.09-1Another slower cooker recipe for you! This recipe was inspired by one of my favorite food truck menu items from The Chairman Truck! If you are in SF, you must hunt down the Coca-Cola Braised Pork Baos -they are eyes-roll-to-the-back-of-your-head delicious. I was fascinated by the idea of cooking meat with soda; the Coca-Cola gave the pork a sweet, slightly crispy  “crust” and I was hooked!

I don’t usually drink sodas, but if I do I love Dr. Pepper. Known for it’s “23 flavors” the unique soda flavor gives this tender pulled pork dish a sweet zing complimenting the BBQ sauce very well.

Serve the pulled pork with fresh cole slaw and pillowy soft King’s Hawaiian bread and you got some yummy sliders! I followed Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork recipe from Serious Eats.

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Start off with all your ingredients:

  • 1 small boneless, skin-off pork shoulder roast, about 2 pounds
  • 1 can of Dr Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
  • 2 cups store-bought or Kansas City-style barbecue sauce

I had quite a new (challenging experience) with the huge pork shoulder roast I bought, I barely had a knife good enough for the job! First brown the roast at medium-high heat in a pan and transfer to slow cooker. I think I had to cut up the roast and cook the pieces in shifts!

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Pour the Dr. Pepper in the pan and deglaze, let cook for 2 minutes and scrap pan occasionally with spatula. The idea of “cooking” soda was very strange.

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Pour the Dr. Pepper over the meat in the slow cooker. Add in honey, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Mix well, cover and cook on low for 7 hrs! Walk away, enjoy your day!

2013-09-09 00.46.07 2013-09-09 08.35.06Before and after: look at that beautiful color! After 7 hours, drain off the extra liquid and shred the meat with two forks.  Pour the BBQ sauce and stir. Cover and cook for another 1 hour.

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Perfect for a potluck or picnic!

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Slow Cooker Pepper Pork Chops

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I know, I know this entry is way overdue considering that I made these awesome, succulent Slow Cooker Pepper Pork Chops for Father’s Day….2 months ago. Yikes. But better late than never I really wanted to share my experience making these. Every year, we usually just take my dad out for a nice dinner, but this year I decided to put a little bit more effort in it and cook Father’s Day dinner. I even research the wine pairing for it. 

I love that this recipe from Food Network came with a video (with an slightly-eccentric Alton Brown) because it was a very lengthy process- but so worth the results. And it’s one of those recipes you really have to plan ahead for, definitely not the kind that you can just “throw together”.

Freshly crushed peppercorns brings the strongly spiced flavor to the pork but will be balanced out by the other ingredients. It will so NOT fun trying to find something to crush these, they kept flying away in every direction.

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Making the brine was pretty intimidating – all that salt and sugar! Heat up the vegetable broth, brown sugar, kosher salt, and peppercorns until the salt and sugar has dissolved. I found out how important it was to have specifically kosher salt. You can not just simply replace kosher salt with regular salt because it will get too salty. Remove it from heat and add ice.

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Good thing my gut told me that my mom’s kitchen was not going to have 2 gallon zip lock bags or else it would have been a midnight run to the grocery store. I wrote the time when I should take them out of the fridge. Refrigerate overnight.

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My priority the next morning was taking the pork chops out of the brine, rinse the salt off really well and pat dry. The recipe said to season again with salt, but I skipped that because I read comments that it was really unnecessary.

Heat up a pan at medium-high heat and panfry the chops until both sides are nice and brown. Feel free to inhale and let your mouth water. You don’t need to make sure it’s cooked thoroughly, just about 5-6 minutes on each side should be good.

Remove and set aside on a plate.

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No need to clean the pan, add a little bit more oil and saute the onions until brown. Pour in the chicken broth to deglaze and add pepper and thyme.

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The slow cooker will be filled with 3 different layers. Layer 1: the dried apples. Oh my gosh I never realized that dried apples were SO hard to find! I went to Safeway and Trader Joe’s and they both did not carry dried apples. My dad actually went to Sprouts and finally found it! Such a precious ingredient! I had to stop myself from snacking on these while cooking because unlike other kinds of dried fruit- these dried apples were soft and sweet like marshmallows.

When the dried apples get cooked, they release a lot of sweetness that compliments the peppercorns perfectly.

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Layer 2: The slightly cooked pork chops. Layer 3: The sauteed onion mixture. Cover and cook on high for about 1.5 hours. Resist the urge to taste because it smells so good. It’s got 4.5 hours left to go! Then…

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I was so excited to try a piece- so tender and full of flavor: slightly sweet and hints of peppercorn.

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  And dinner is served….with an Italian wine, steamed artichoke for appetizer and lemon-pepper asparagus and rice as sides. 2013-06-16 19.42.33

Sour Cream Pork Chops

I am still learning to cook more, especially meat dishes. I decided to venture into cooking pork- something I don’t usually make nor eat. I wanted to use my slow cooker and decided to try Sour Cream Pork Chops from Allrecipes. I definitely an feeling more favorable toward pork chops now.

The only thing about slow cooker cooking is that you have to plan ahead and the process can not be rushed. If you want this for dinner start around 10 or 11 in the morning.

This was not a simple “throw everything into the Crock Pot” kind of recipe, but well worth the extra little steps.

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Season the chops with salt, pepper, and garlic powder, then dredge through 1/2 cup of flour.

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Lightly cook the chops in a skillet with a little bit of oil until it starts browning. I did not really worry too much if it was cooked thoroughly enough because later it’s going to cook in the Crock Pot for hours.

Transfer the chops into the Crock Pot, adding in 1 sliced onion, and 2 cups of hot dissolved chicken bouillon.

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Cover and set at low heat, walk away and try to ignore the mouth-water smells wafting through the kitchen for 7-8 hours.

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After 7-8 hours, I prepared to take the pork chops out. NOTE: The original recipe author did not lie, they are extremely tender and succulent. The meat literally fell off the bone when I tried to take it out of the crock pot! Set aside or keep warmed in the oven.

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To make the sour cream sauce: mix 2 tablespoons of flour into 8 oz of sour cream. Slowly mix into the meat juices left inside the Crock Pot. Cook this on high for 15-30 mins (I only did 15 mins because I couldn’t wait any longer!). The sauce should be thick and cream. Serve over the pork chops.

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Amazingly juicey and full of flavor. Pan frying it is crucial to give it some crispy texture, the rest of the chop is so soft and tender.

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Since the sauce makes it pretty heavy and rich, I like to balance it out with healthy brown rice and some steamed kale or some pasta noodles.

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Yums! So delicious, my boyfriend asked for seconds….and thirds.