Bold, Brash, and Succulent: Slow-Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork Tacos for Super Bowl Sunday

Slow-Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork Tacos. Photo: Wendy Goodfriend
Slow-Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork Tacos. Photo: Wendy Goodfriend

Tender, succulent braised pork shoulder is bathed in a homemade BBQ sauce that renders it incredibly flavorful. The sauce comes together quickly, and then the whole mess, pork shoulder plus sauce, is tossed into a slow cooker and left to work its magic for 6 hours. Because this recipe is so hands-off, it means you can start it the night before (or even 1 or 2 days ahead!) and have your braised pork ready well before kickoff.

Be sure to use a well-marbled pork shoulder. You need all that fat to ensure that the pork stays nice and tender (plus don’t be concerned that the pork will end up tasting fatty or greasy...much of that will melt out of the pork and can be skimmed off the top). Also, choose your meat wisely; I try to use pasture-raised pork as much as possible. It does cost a little more, but it really is totally worth it.

Use this shredded pork to fill corn or flour tortillas for some damn fine tacos, like I’ve done here, or stuff it into soft buns and serve it with some coleslaw. It’s also excellent atop tostadas, or frankly just grab a fork and eat it out of the bowl.

Slow-Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork Tacos. Photo: Wendy Goodfriend
Slow-Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork Tacos. Photo: Wendy Goodfriend

Recipe: Slow-Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork Tacos

Serves 8 to 12

Ingredients:

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For the pork:

  • 4 lb boneless pork shoulder, cut into 3-4 equal pieces
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium beef or chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup spicy brown mustard
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tbsp rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce or tamari
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • Hot pepper sauce to taste

For the tacos:

  • Flour or corn tortillas, warmed
  • Pickled onions
  • Pickled jalapenos
  • Queso fresco
  • Fresh cilantro, torn

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Instructions:

  1. To make the pork, season the pork all over with salt and pepper. In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Sear the pork on one side without moving until well browned, 3–4 minutes; turn and sear the other side until well browned, 3–4 minutes. Transfer to a slow cooker (do this in batches if you need to).
  2. Add the onion to the frying pan, stirring to scrape up any brown bits. Mix together the beef broth, ketchup, mustard, Worcestershire, rice vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, dry mustard, chili powder, cumin, and coriander and add it to the pan. Add hot-pepper sauce to taste. Stir to combine. Pour over the pork, turning to coat evenly with the sauce.
  3. Cover and cook on the low setting for 6 hours, or until the pork shoulder is very tender. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pork chunks to a cutting board. Shred the pork into bite-sized pieces, removing and discarding any large pieces of fat.
  4. Using a large metal spoon, skim off any fat from the top of the braising liquid. Pour the braising liquid through a fat separator or a fine-mesh strainer into a saucepan. Bring the braising liquid to a boil over medium-high heat and boil until syrupy, about 10 minutes.
  5. To make tacos, fill tortillas with about 1/4 cup pork, then layer with pickled onions, jalapenos, and sprinkle with cotija and cilantro.
Slow-Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork Tacos. Photo: Wendy Goodfriend
Slow-Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork Tacos. Photo: Wendy Goodfriend

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