Three or four times a year, we make a big batch of pulled pork here at Glover Gardens. I actually have two different recipes that use our spice mixes and it’s high time to publish them. (Look away for a moment, my beloved vegetarian friends!)
Why Pulled Pork?
Pulled pork is so versatile! It can be a summer meal – think pulled pork sliders for July 4 – or a fall / winter meal – pulled pork sandwiches dripping with barbecue sauce at a football game tailgate party, anyone? And having a ‘big ol’ batch’ of it is best, because … Leftovers!!!! There’s a list of cool things we do with leftover pulled pork at the bottom of this post.
Today’s recipe is Zippy Southwest Pulled Pork. You’ve probably heard of Zippy Southwest if you’ve been around the Glover Gardens blog for a while – it was the first recipe I published here back in March of 2015 when the blog was born. We use it in lots of dishes!
I’ve been really pleased with the response to Zippy, as we call it for short. It was the firstborn of a family of Zippys that now include Zippy Cajun and Zippy Sicilian, who have been joined by cousin Everything Rub. I’ve heard from quite a few of you that you make your own Zippy SW spice mix from the recipe I shared and have it always on hand, and I get requests from friends and family members to replenish their supplies between holidays, when they get it as stocking stuffers.
So Zippy was an easy go-to when I was figuring out how I wanted to create my version of pulled pork. I first learned to make this crockpot meal one summer when I was looking for a few easy dishes to teach my son as he moved into his own apartment for the first time during his Phase 1 college journey. We made it together out of an easy slow cooker cookbook, and it was pretty good, but needed a Glover Gardens flavor injection to reach its true potential. So the next time I made it, I played around with different ingredients and landed on this version, documented until now on a little slip of grocery list paper.
The Zippy Southwest pulled pork is savory with a rich, deep taste, but it’s not overly spicy. And what’s really cool is that it’s super easy! I like to make it the day before I need it, to allow time for cooling the liquids, removing the fat and reducing what’s left of the liquids to add back to the pork mixture after pulling for a true flavor boost. The last time I made this dish, just a couple of Saturdays ago for a Back to School party for our Musical Millennial (college journey #3, for the doctorate), I literally put it together in the crock pot in 10 minutes before heading to the office. The red and purple bags in the picture are my purse and computer on the counter waiting for the grab-and-go. The house smelled really good when I got home!
Zippy Southwest Pulled Pork Recipe
Makes about 10-12 servings, takes about 10-20 minutes to prep, elapsed time is ~8 hours (unless you go for the preferred overnight chill)
- 4-5 lbs. boneless Boston pork butt (fat trimmed or not)
- 1½ – 2 tbsp. Zippy Southwest spice mix (or your favorite southwest seasoning blend)
- 1 large carrot, sliced or chopped
- 1 medium yellow onion, sliced or chopped
- 5-6 cloves of garlic, sliced
- 1 4 oz. can of diced green chiles (mild or hot based on your preference)
- 1½ c. beer, wine or chicken stock
- Optional: barbecue sauce
Get out your slow cooker and plug it in somewhere out of the way so it won’t tempt kitchen passers-by to open the lid. Spread the spice rub on all side of the meat and put it in the slow cooker, then add the rest of the ingredients, pouring the liquid around the edges. Cover and cook for 6 hours on high or 8 hours on low.
When the cooking time has elapsed, remove the lid and let it cool slightly, then remove the meat from the liquids, putting it in a large bowl. Using a slotted spoon, remove the vegetables and add them to the meat or put in a separate bowl. Pour the liquids into a medium bowl and put it in the refrigerator to cool. (This will solidify the fat and allow you to easily remove it later.)
Once the pork has cooled slightly (but is still warm) “pull” it into shreds by using two forks to pull in different directions (see the pictures in the Join Me in the Kitchen section below). If the vegetables are in a separate bowl, chop them and add back to the meat; if you left them with the meat, mush any large pieces (like carrots) so that they distribute well. Stir, then cover and chill until ready to serve (or overnight).
Once the fat and liquids have separated (easier if you left it overnight), remove and discard the fat and add the jelled juice from the meat to a saucepan, then boil until it is reduced to about ½ to ¾ cup. Warm the meat at medium heat in a large pan on the stove with the reduced liquid, which will make it taste much richer.
At this point, you have your pulled pork, which is a canvas out of which you can create many culinary works of art. You can add barbeque sauce to taste if you’re serving it as a filling for sliders or pulled pork sandwiches. Or, you can leave it as-is, savory and good, and use it in other ways.
Serving Suggestions: Cool Things with Pulled Pork
The typical pulled pork presentation is sandwiches or sliders – nothing wrong with that! But here are other ways we’ve used it (with or without adding in barbeque sauce, as appropriate):
- On nachos, either minimalist or whole hog (hehehehehe), sometimes even on Trash Can Nachos, which we learned how to make from Guy Fieri (he uses carne asada / skirt steak, but they are fab with pulled pork)
- With eggs! It’s good in a frittata, omelet or even just in scrambled eggs – or, in a breakfast sandwich
- With eggs, but fancier: Pulled Pork Benedict (OMG!!!)
- As a filling for tacos/street tacos or taquitos or burritos or quesadillas, adding refried beans and cheese, or more, like the traditional slaw
- On tostadas, again with refried beans and topped with any number of goodies like pico de gallo, cotija cheese (or jack, cheddar, etc), avocado or guacamole, etc.
- In enchiladas
- In a quick throw-down soup using much of the same ingredients as the tostadas list above with petite diced tomatoes and chicken stock
- In a Cubano-style panini with mustard, swiss and pickles
- Protein for Salad Days: the simple version is the pulled pork atop a garden salad with your choice of dressing – serrano ranch? red wine vinaigrette? – more sophisticated is a southwest Cobb salad approach with the pork in place of the chicken
- Atop toasted french bread rounds in a crostini approach
- Topped with garlic mashed potatoes for a pulled pork cottage pie
Haven’t Done These Yet, But…
We’re planning to try out some more pulled pork leftover magic in the next batch or three, like:
- Pulled pork stroganoff-like pasta dish
- Southern pulled pork bowl, with roasted corn, pinto beans, rice and cornbread
- Pulled pork spring rolls (why not?)
- Pulled pork and rice balls coated in panko and baked
- Jalapenos stuffed with pulled pork
- Pulled pork dumplings or ravioli
- And what about pulled pork crepes, with goat cheese? mmmmmmm
Join Me in the Kitchen
Let us know if you make the Zippy Southwest Pulled Pork, and what you do with it. Next up is our other version, Honey-Chipotle Pulled Pork made with Everything Rub.
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