Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Slow-Cooker Blueberry Pulled Pork

It's almost blueberry season again!

Which means that I can finally stop clinging onto the last of my frozen blueberries, because in a couple of weeks, we'll be out there picking fresh berries to refill my freezer stock!

One of my favorite "out of the box" recipes for pork is a blueberry sauced pork tenderloin that I make once in a while.  It's savory and unexpected, but there are a couple of things that I don't like about it.  It takes a while to prepare, and pork tenderloin isn't always affordable.  Luckily, I figured out a way to get all that fabulous flavor in an affordable, easy crockpot dish!



You'll need a pork shoulder roast.  This is also, apparently, called a "Boston Butt", which makes my kids laugh to no end.  It's also one of my new favorite parks of the pig to eat, next to bacon, of course.  Pork shoulder is well-marbled, so if you cook it right, it gets super tender, and it's full of flavor.  It's also usually one of the less-pricey cuts of pork.  I used a boneless, but you could go with bone-in, just remove the bone before shredding the meat.

Chop 2 large onions into thin strips.


Place them in the bottom of your slow cooker.  Add a couple pats for butter on top.


Remove any twine or wrapping, and rub your pork shoulder with salt and pepper, then place it fat-side up on top of the onions in your slow cooker.


Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of sugar over the top of the pork.


Now, here comes the part where you yell at me for using not-cheap ingredients in a dish that I have already called affordable.  However, you should know that I always believe that the quality of your ingredients has a huge effect on the outcome of your dish, and you're not using much of these two ingredients, so you can use them in many, many other delicious dishes.  You can also use lower-priced substitutes, but it will change the flavors a bit.  Calm down!

Take just shy of a half cup of Port.  I heard it said once that port is the grape jelly of adult alcohol, and I never quite got that out of my head.  It's full flavored and delicious.  You could sub in a sweet red wine here, if you don't want to do Port.  But Port, well, it's goooooood.  Pour it over your pork.  Port pork, Porty pork.  Tee hee,


Then take 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and do the same.  I have a fantastic blueberry balsamic that takes it to another level.  Well, I should say, I HAD that blueberry balsamic.  We polished the last of it off with this recipe.  If you like the flavored balsamics, other nice options with this would be black current or possibly even fig.  Anything sweet and fruity should work.


If you feel like tossing the crock pot contents around to mix them a bit, go ahead.  They should melt together pretty well even without it, but it can't hurt.


Take a healthy cup or so of blueberries, fresh or frozen, and dump those over the top.


Place the lid on your slow cooker and set to cook for 8 hours on low.  Typically, with crock pot recipes, instead of cooking on low for 8 hours, you can cook on high for 4, but if you have the time, I'd really go for the slow and low method with pork shoulder.  It melts down all that fat without drying out the meat on top.

The smell of this cooking is divine.  By the time it's cooked, you'll be more than ready to tear into it like a ravenous wildebeest.


When the cook time is up, shred the meat in the cooker with two forks or tongs and a knife.  Mix it in with the sauce in the bottom.


This time, I made mini sliders with the meat, being sure  to get some onions and berries in the mix as I dished it into the buns.


You could also make a great blueberry carnitas by wrapping it in corn tortillas with a little salsa and some nice cheese, like cotija.


Or just serve it on it's own with veggies on the side.  Maybe even use it in a salad.  It's pretty versatile.  If you go for a spicier dish, sprinkle some red pepper flakes in with the port and balsamic to kick it up a bit.



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