Friday, June 17, 2011

Strawberry Pulled Pork

Pulled pork with strawberry barbecue sauce.
Sounds weird, right?
It turns out to be a really good combination.
I was looking through some of my favorite food blogs the other day, and a weird recipe caught my eye. It was over at Stuff I Make My Husband, and it was a recipe for Strawberry Pulled Pork. I've already posted a more traditional recipe for Barbecue Pulled Pork Shoulder, but the idea of using strawberries in a recipe like this was too intriguing not to try. I figured if it turned out to be gross, I could just forget about it, and if it turned out to be good, I'd have an interesting recipe for the blog. Luckily, it turned out to be really good, so I'm sharing it with you.

I changed the original recipe a little. I left out the molasses and the rosemary, changed the ketchup to tomato paste, and added a little cayenne pepper. The rest is pretty much the same, though.

The sauce that this recipe makes is really good. Better yet, I added absolutely no sugar to it beyond what's naturally in the ingredients. Because of that, you can feel free to use a generous amount of sauce on the pulled pork without stepping into indulgence-land. Just remember that it's not a beverage and you'll be fine.

I usually get whole pork shoulders, but all I could find this time was a pre-trimmed one.
Either kind will work fine for this recipe.


1 pork shoulder
1 6oz can of tomato paste
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup yellow mustard
16 oz strawberries (I used frozen, but fresh is fine too)
4 cloves garlic
1 tsp hot sauce
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste


Sauce Pot
Gravy Separator (Recommended)
Large Bowl (Recommended)

Crockpot recipes are always simple. This one is no exception. Just put everything into the crockpot and turn it on low for 8-10 hours. Try and get the spices primarily on the meat instead of around the sides of the crockpot, but even that is more of a guideline than a rule. Use several heavy pinches of salt, and a similar amount of pepper.

It's a good thing we'll be making a sauce, or this would be the dullest post ever.

After the pork has cooked in the crockpot, remove it and place it in a large bowl. Use two forks to shred the meat. Remove any bones or large pieces of fat if you see them.

You will eat some as you shred it. It's OK. I know you can't help it. I do the same thing.

You need to strain the liquid in the crockpot to remove all the large, solid bits. You can use a strainer directly over your sauce pot, but if you've got a gravy separator, I would recommend straining the liquid into that first. That will let you remove some of the fat and will make your sauce a little smoother. Whether you use the separator or not, you need to put all of the liquid into a sauce pot, without any of the solids.

Solids would make a very chunky sauce. We're not going for chunky.

To make the sauce, you need to reduce the liquid by at least half, and by two-thirds if possible. It took me about 25 minutes of reducing over high heat to get the sauce to the right consistency. Your time will vary depending on the size and shape of your sauce pot. It's ready when the sauce has thickened and the bubbles start to stack up on each other in the pot.

You can see the bubbles stacking up in this picture.

Once the sauce has thickened, taste it to see if it needs any extra salt. Mine needed a few extra pinches. Remove the sauce from the heat and let it cool. You can put it into a condiment bottle if you have one. That will make it easier to serve.

To serve, put some of the meat on a plate and top it with the sauce. (Of course, if you couldn't figure that out on your own, chances are you're having trouble just reading this)

  • This will make a lot of pulled pork. It's a good party recipe, or you can freeze some of it. The sauce can be frozen too.
  • I bought a couple of those plastic bottles that burger joints put ketchup in. They cost me less than a dollar apiece, and they're really useful for storing sauces.
  • Reducing and boiling are the exact same thing. Just don't try to reduce a sauce with the top on the pot. All the evaporated liquid will just condense and run back in.
  • Eight hours is the minimum for this recipe. I really recommend at least ten, and if you've got time, go for twelve. The meat will be more tender, and the strawberries will break down more, making the sauce better.
  • To tell if your sauce is thick enough, you can dip a spoon into it and hold it up sideways. If the sauce just runs right back off of the spoon, you need to keep reducing. If it does a pretty good job of hanging on, you're at least close to the right consistency.
  • Be careful when reducing the sauce. It's possible to burn it near the end, when a lot of the liquid is gone. Just keep an eye on it and stir it occasionally.

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