Sunday, June 12, 2011

Low Fat Crockpot Chipotle Pulled Pork

I grew up in the South, so I dream about pulled pork. I have perfected a super simple, delicious, and healthy recipe for it.

The tweaks:
Pulled pork is traditionally made by slow smoking a fatty cut of pork like shoulder or picnic. As it is slow smoked, the fat and connective tissue melt, making the meat flavorful, juicy, and fall-apart tender. Instead, I use a very lean cut of pork such as pork sirloin. Instead of smoking it, I just drop it in the slow cooker, which keeps it moist and tender. Since the juices from traditional smoked pulled pork tend to run off the meat into the smoker, it loses a lot of flavor and moisture that way. By retaining the broth that develops in the slow cooker and stirring it into the meat, I dare to say that my pulled pork ends up being moister and more flavorful than the traditional kind, all with much less fat. 

The best part about pulled pork is the smoky flavor. I add chipotles in adobo to impart a spicy smokiness. I am also a huge fan of liquid smoke, and I add that as well to boost the smoky flavor, but that is optional. It's a natural product that is essentially the condensation produced from smoking wood. I love to add it to steaks, burgers, and pork. 

I also like to add a little apple juice concentrate to add some natural sweetness and tang, but you can substitute sweetener and apple cider vinegar if you prefer. I've written before about cooking with frozen fruit juices. I always keep some on hand in the freezer.

Pulled pork on a biscuit--breakfast of champions
The goods: 
This pulled pork is so easy to make and really quite healthy since the meat is lean. I like to make a lot and freeze it in individual portions. It is extremely versatile. You can go traditional and serve it on a bun with coleslaw (or my pickled veggie slaw if you hate cabbage like my husband does). I've gotten creative with it and filled jalapenos with it for pulled pork poppers, put it in burritos, nachos, empanadas, pupusas, panini, or lettuce wraps. I like to put some on a biscuit, maybe with an egg, for breakfast.

Low Fat Crockpot Chipotle Pulled Pork
2 onions, roughly chopped
6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
4-5 lbs pork loin or sirloin roast, with or without bone
salt and pepper or Goya Adobo seasoning to taste (I do about 2 t of Adobo seasoning)
1 can chipotles in adobo, mashed with a fork in the can
3 T tomato paste
3 T apple juice concentrate or 
3 T apple cider vinegar plus 2 T brown sugar or Splenda
3 T Worcestershire 
1 t Liquid Smoke, optional

Place onions on the bottom of the slow cooker. Dump everything else on top. Cook 5 hours on high or 8 hours on low. Once cooked, reduce the sauce by removing the meat and cooking on high with the lid removed. 
Meanwhile, shred pork with two forks. Stir it back into the sauce. The sauce will continue to thicken as it cools and the meat absorbs it.

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