If you're looking for a delicious and easy way to make some pulled pork for your next barbecue, using a crockpot is the perfect solution. Slow cooking the pork butt in a crockpot is a great way to get tender, juicy meat that falls apart at the touch of a fork. In this article, we will guide you through the entire process of cooking pork butt in a crockpot, from choosing the right cut of meat to serving suggestions and everything in between.
Choosing the right cut of pork for crockpot barbecue
The first step in making the perfect crockpot pork butt is choosing the right cut of meat. Look for a pork butt with a good amount of marbling throughout the meat. This will ensure that the meat stays moist and juicy during the slow cooking process. Avoid any cuts that are too lean as they may become dry and tough after slow cooking.
Another important factor to consider when choosing a cut of pork for crockpot barbecue is the size of the meat. A larger cut of meat will take longer to cook, but it will also yield more servings. On the other hand, a smaller cut of meat will cook faster, but it may not be enough to feed a large group of people.
It's also important to consider the type of pork butt you're buying. Some pork butts are bone-in, while others are boneless. Bone-in pork butts tend to have more flavor and are often more tender, but they can be more difficult to work with. Boneless pork butts are easier to handle, but they may not have as much flavor as bone-in cuts.
Prepping the pork butt for slow cooking in the crockpot
Before cooking the pork butt in the crockpot, it's important to trim off any excess fat. Leaving too much fat on the meat can make it greasy and unpleasant to eat. You can also season the meat at this stage with your preferred dry rub or marinade.
Another important step in prepping the pork butt for slow cooking in the crockpot is to sear the meat on all sides before placing it in the crockpot. This will help to lock in the juices and create a flavorful crust on the outside of the meat. To sear the meat, heat a tablespoon of oil in a skillet over high heat and cook the pork butt for 2-3 minutes on each side until browned.
What kind of crockpot to use for juicy and tender pork butt
The ideal crockpot for cooking pork butt is one that is large enough to accommodate the meat and has a tight fitting lid. This will ensure that the steam stays inside the crockpot, keeping the meat moist and tender. Additionally, make sure your crockpot has a low and slow cooking setting, which is typically 8-10 hours on low heat.
Another important factor to consider when choosing a crockpot for pork butt is the material it is made of. Ceramic or stoneware crockpots are great options as they distribute heat evenly and retain heat well, which is important for slow cooking. Avoid using metal crockpots as they can cause the meat to dry out and become tough.
Seasoning options for crockpot pork butt
The seasoning options for crockpot pork butt are endless. You can use dry rubs, marinades, barbecue sauce, or a combination of all three. The key is to ensure that the seasoning is well-distributed and has time to really penetrate the meat as it cooks in the crockpot.
One popular dry rub option for crockpot pork butt is a mixture of brown sugar, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper. This combination creates a sweet and savory flavor that pairs well with the richness of the pork. Another option is to marinate the pork in a mixture of apple cider vinegar, soy sauce, honey, and garlic for several hours before cooking. This creates a tangy and slightly sweet flavor that complements the pork nicely. No matter which seasoning option you choose, be sure to allow enough time for the flavors to develop and meld together as the pork cooks low and slow in the crockpot.
Adding liquid to the crockpot for maximum flavor
Adding liquid to the crockpot is essential in keeping the pork butt moist and tender. Water, chicken broth, or apple cider vinegar are all great choices that will add flavor to the meat. It's important to only add enough liquid to cover the bottom of the crockpot, as excess liquid can make the meat too soft and mushy.
Another great option for adding flavor to the meat is to use beer or wine as the liquid. The alcohol in the beer or wine will help to tenderize the meat and add a unique flavor. However, it's important to use a light beer or dry wine, as sweet or heavy options can overpower the taste of the pork.
When adding liquid to the crockpot, it's also important to consider the seasonings and spices that will be used. If using a pre-made seasoning blend, be sure to read the label and adjust the amount of liquid accordingly. Additionally, adding fresh herbs such as rosemary or thyme can enhance the flavor of the meat and complement the chosen liquid.
Cooking times and temperature guidelines for optimal results
The cooking time for pork butt in the crockpot will depend on the size of the cut, temperature of the crockpot, and desired level of doneness. As a general rule, plan for 8-10 hours on low heat for a 6-8 pound pork butt. You can also use a meat thermometer to ensure that the internal temperature reaches 190-200°F for optimal tenderness.
It is important to note that the cooking time and temperature guidelines may vary depending on the type of crockpot being used. Some crockpots may cook at a higher or lower temperature than others, so it is recommended to check the manufacturer's instructions for specific guidelines. Additionally, adding vegetables or liquids to the crockpot can also affect the cooking time and temperature, so it is important to adjust accordingly. Experimenting with different cooking times and temperatures can help you find the perfect balance for your desired level of tenderness and flavor.
Tips for shredding the pork butt after it's cooked
Once the pork butt is done cooking in the crockpot, you'll need to shred the meat for serving. Allow the meat to rest for 15-20 minutes before shredding to let the juices redistribute throughout the meat. Use two forks to gently pull the meat apart or use a stand mixer for quick and easy shredding.
Another helpful tip for shredding pork butt is to remove any excess fat before shredding. This will make the meat easier to handle and give it a better texture. Additionally, you can add some of the cooking liquid back into the shredded meat to keep it moist and flavorful. Don't be afraid to experiment with different seasonings and sauces to enhance the flavor of your shredded pork butt.
Serving suggestions and side dishes to pair with crockpot barbecue pork butt
Crockpot pork butt is a versatile dish and can be served in a variety of ways. You can serve it as a sandwich, with or without barbecue sauce, or as a main dish with a side of coleslaw, macaroni salad, or baked beans. The possibilities are endless.
If you want to add some extra flavor to your crockpot pork butt, you can try serving it with a side of grilled vegetables, such as zucchini, bell peppers, and onions. The smoky flavor of the vegetables pairs perfectly with the barbecue pork.
Another great way to serve crockpot pork butt is to use it as a topping for loaded baked potatoes. Simply bake some potatoes, cut them open, and top them with the shredded pork, cheese, sour cream, and chives. It's a hearty and delicious meal that is sure to satisfy.
How to store and reheat leftover crockpot pork butt
Leftover crockpot pork butt can be stored in the refrigerator or freezer for later use. Allow the meat to cool completely before storing it in an airtight container or freezer bag. For best results, reheat the pork butt in a pan on the stove or in a microwave-safe container with a splash of water to add moisture.
With this guide, you are now equipped with all the information you need to make delicious and juicy pork butt in the crockpot for your next barbecue. Enjoy!