Pork butt is the best pork for pulling. And pulled pork dishes are what summer is all about. Pulled pork barbecue, pulled pork tacos, pulled pork carnitas for nachos, if you know how to cook pork butt you open the door to a porcine wonderland of culinary possibilities.
So these butts are technically shoulders, and they tend to be pretty big. I like to make my slow-cooker butts as neutral in flavor as possible because I always end up with so much more meat than can be consumed in one dinner, and pulled pork makes such a fantastic base for a lot of great meals.
In addition to an abundance of pulled pork for freezing and future meals, slow cooking a pork butt leaves you with a fair amount of pork fat and collagen-rich porky liquid for enhancing sauces, soups, or maybe a batch of baked beans. Oh, and the best part: butts are cheap. I got my 7 pounder for just under 12 dollars at my local supermarket, and I will easily get four meals out of it. Butts, man!
Slow Cooker Summer Butt (of Pork)
a pork butt (a.k.a. shoulder (4-8 pounds, depending on how much you want to make))
optional: 2-3 tsp liquid smoke
1. Pat the pork butt dry with paper towels and score the fat side with a sharp knife.
2. Decide on a ratio of salt to sugar. I like 1:2 and can usually comfortably cover a 7-8 pound pork butt with 2 Tbsp salt to 4 Tbsp sugar. A 1:2 ratio of salt to sugar is not very sweet, so if you like a sweeter deal, up the ratio.
3. Cover the pork butt with the salt and sugar mix and set it in the slow cooker, fat side up. If you don’t use all the salt/sugar you made, that’s ok. Just coat the meat in a good layer of the seasoning and toss the rest. If you add more than the meat itself can hold on to, you’ll probably end up with over-salted and useless pork, which would be a waste. Add liquid smoke if you’re using it and cook on low for 7-9 hours or until the meat is falling apart and there is a substantial amount of liquid in the pot. Slow cooker temperature settings are not standardized, so it’s possible yours could take longer. If the meat is not super tender when you stick a fork in it, it needs more time.
4. Remove the ceramic crock from the slow cooker and run it under the broiler of your oven for a few minutes to crisp up the fat on top. If you have a torch, you could also use that to get the fat on top crispy.
5. Allow the meat to cool and tear it up (I like to use gloved hands for this, but forks will also do the trick). Pick through the meat and get rid of the bone, any weird connective tissue-y bits and un-crispy fat.
6. Divide up any meat you want to use immediately (for carnitas tortas perhaps? coming soon!) or put it in freezer containers, label it, and save it for later. Pour all the liquid from the pot into another container and allow the fat to separate to the top. You can save the fat for cooking, or toss it and use the collagen-rich pork cooking liquid to make beans or sauce or extra juicy barbecue.