Have you ever heard of Christmas pulled pork? It is a thing. I promise. Ok, well maybe it is not thing yet, but it will catch on one day. Maybe. Or we can make it a “whatever time of the year thing” because this pulled pork recipe is lip smacking delicious and very easy to make.
Why is it so easy to make? Well, this recipe was made out of necessity last Christmas (as in Christmas 2016). It was one of those moments that I fear in the kitchen. You know that moment when you have a house full of hungry guests and you pull out your Christmas ham and it literally looks like and tastes like shoe leather. AHHHH! Yes, folks, that is what happened last year.
Our family had been living in Scotland for a few weeks while my husband was working there and I watched my share of British cooking shows. After getting inspired by a ham recipe from Gordon Ramsay, I cam home determined to make it for Christmas dinner as well as an Italian Pandoro for Christmas morning. A little spoiler: they both failed! Oh well, these things happen.
So I come home and make this brand new recipe for Christmas dinner expecting it to come out perfectly. A few hours before dinner, I pulled out the shoe leather, eh, I mean ham and realized there was no way I could feed this to our guests for dinner. My husband’s parents and aunt were joining us as well as our Italian friends with their two young children. I wanted them to have a memorable Christmas with our family and shoe leather was not on the menu especially with their great appreciation for good food.
I had to think fast. Enter the brilliance of the Instant Pot. I rummaged through our freezer of meat and discovered a pork shoulder. Problem solved, hopefully. Using some of the same spices that I had for the ham, I made a spice blend to rub all over the pork. No time for marinating so I plopped it into the Instant Pot and let it work its magic. Less than two hours later our dinner was saved!
This pulled pork also works brilliantly in a slow cooker as well. It is a great recipe to start the night before you go to sleep. Set the times and let the slow cooker do the work for you. The next morning, the pork will be juicy and bursting with flavor from all of the spices. You can let the pork sit on warm in the juices until you are ready to prepare it for your meal.
I made it this very way yesterday for a family get-together and I almost preferred it from the slow cooker. Long and slow is usually the way to go if you have time. The sweetness and spice of some homemade apple sauce would compliment this pulled pork beautifully. Check out my recipe here.
Our Italian friends had never had pulled pork for Christmas and neither had we, but we all enjoyed ourselves that night. As this last Christmas passed and we had family and friends over for dinner, once again, I could not help but remember the Christmas before. Our friends unexpectedly had to move back home to Italy over the summer. My family misses them very much. We have so many memories together. I am thankful for that Christmas meal and the beautiful memories I now hold in my heart.
These memories are what I cherish. They help hold our friendship together now that we are separated but lots of land and water. You will, no doubt, be reminded of these friends in the future for they introduced me to so many new foods and ways of eating. Slowly eating and taking time to appreciate, not only the food, but also the people you are eating the food with. This is what I find so magnificent about food and the power a meal has to bring us together, if we let it!
Pulled Pork in the Instant Pot
- 4 lbs Boston Butt or Pork shoulder bonless
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup chicken or pork broth water is ok
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tbsp cumin seed
- 2 tsp coriander seed
- 1 ½ tsp ground mustard
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tsp oregano
- 1 lime juiced
- In warm pan, toast the cumin seeds and coriander seeds until fragrant. About 60 seconds.
- Remove from heat and pour seeds into a mortar and pestle or you can use a coffee grinder or mallet to gently smash seeds.
- Mix seeds with remaining spices of garlic, mustard, paprika, chili powder, cinnamon, oregano. Should be like a really dry paste depending on moisture of garlic. Season with about ¼ tsp salt.
- Pat pork dry with paper towel then rub seasoning mixture over top all the sides.
For Slow Cooker
- For slow cooker, put lid on and set time for 12-15 hours. If using the Instant Pot, I set the slow cooker to low on the temperature setting (see pic in post). Ensure that valve on lid is set to vent. Pork will be done at 12 hours but I love to let it cook as long as possible that’s why this is a great recipe to start before you go to sleep. (skip to step 8)
For Instant Pot Pressure Cooker
- For Instant Pot pressure cooker, put lid on and ensure valve is set to sealed. Set manual pressure to cook for 120 minutes. When 120 minutes is done, allow the pressure to release naturally (see natural release for Instant Pot in manual if you have questions) for 15 minutes. After the 15 minutes, release remaining pressure through valve before opening lid.
- Remove pork from slow cooker/pressure cooker and place in oven safe baking dish. Using two forks, pull pork apart into some small and some large pieces. Place under broiler and get tops of pork crispy.
- Either in Instant pot or in small pot on stove, simmer juices from pot on low until reduces somewhat. If using your Instant Pot, use sauté function on High heat.
- Remove pork from oven and juices from heat. Pour reduced sauce on to pork. Try not to lick the fatty, porky goodness off your fingers. Enjoy!