Traditional North Carolina pulled pork is dressed with nothing more than a bit of spicy cider vinegar that’s used to accentuate the meat’s flavor, not mask it. Unfortunately, when restaurants interpret this dish for a national audience, they use the same cheap trick unleashed on barbecued beef and racks of ribs: a bucket of sickeningly sweet sauce made from a slurry of sugar, corn syrup, and other insulin-spiking ingredients. The result: A single sandwich with as many calories as three Big Macs!
We get back to the humble hog treatment and turn out a sandwich flush with flavor and light on calories.
430 calories, 18 g fat (5 g saturated), 540 mg sodium
1 boneless pork shoulder (4–5 lb)
Salt and black pepper to taste
1⁄2 Tbsp canola or vegetable oil
1 cup apple cider vinegar
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1⁄2 Tbsp liquid smoke
12 hamburger buns (preferably Martin’s Potato Rolls)
How to Make It
- Heat a large skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat.
- Cut the pork into 2 or 3 big pieces and season with salt and pepper.
- Add the oil to the pan, and when hot, sear the pieces of pork until thoroughly browned on the outside. Remove the pork and place in a slow cooker.
- Add the vinegar to the hot pan and deglaze, scraping any bits of browned meat stuck to the bottom.
- Pour the vinegar over the pork, then add the broth and liquid smoke.
- Set the slow cooker to high, and cook for 4 hours, until the pork falls apart with gentle pressure.
- Remove the pork from the liquid and shred. Toss with a bit more vinegar, and serve on top of warm buns with coleslaw.
Eat This Tip
Not satisfied going the way of the Crock Pot with your pork shoulder? Ed Mitchell, chef at The Pit in Raleigh, North Carolina, provides the details for an authentic, yet home-friendly smoked shoulder: Build a large charcoal fire on one side of the grill (called banking). Top the charcoal with a big handful of soaked hickory chips. On the other side, place a pan to catch meat drippings. Add the pork to the side with the pan, place the lid on top, and cook for 4 hours, refreshing the fire and the wood chips if the heat or the smoke dies down.