When I mention to friends or people at work that I am making pulled pork in a slow cooker using coke, the reaction is generally and general disbelief. Equally: “how do you cook with coke?” and “how could you cook with coke??” Cooking pulled pork with coke makes so much sense to me, the coke is all caramel, acid and sweetness – everything you need for sweet tender pork. I don’t know what it says about me, but the first time I heard about pulled pork and coke I thought ‘I HAVE to try that!’
I must admit, the first time I made pulled pork using coke I thought it tasted a bit insipid (the only other addition was an onion) – sweet and soft, but lacking the kick I was expecting – even with lashings of smokey BBQ sauce added afterwards. So I kept looking for pulled pork recipes and discovered this one by Ross O’Meara, that I love and have made here. It’s so flavourful – knock your socks off stuff. But it’s not that easy to get right. I was not encouraged by the idea of overnight soaking of the meat in molasses and brine, then rubbing with a complex spice mix, then roasting in a slow oven. I find it difficult to cook so that it ends up juicy and tender. Then I had a ‘light bulb’ moment – how about using the coke slow cooker method, but using Ross’s rub (with extra onion)? This worked a dream – so flavoursome and melty tender. I used some pork shoulder and some pork rashers I had left over. I wasn’t sure how the rashers would go, but oh my (Homer Simpson moment) mmmm pork…..
Just one very important tip. If you are worried about the thought of using 600 ml sugary coke, do not even think of substituting it with diet coke. It will taste vile. The sugar in the coke is important and importantly, you remove the meat from the coke once cooked, so it’s not as bad as it sounds.
Spiced pulled pork with coke – slow cooker
- ½ teaspoon (tsp) fennel seeds
- ½ tsp cumin seeds
- ½ tsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp onion salt
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
- 1 tsp chilli flakes (optional)
- 500 g pork (I used a mix of shoulder and rashers, loin is also good)
- 600 ml bottle coke
- 6 soft bread rolls
- ½ cup BBQ sauce
- ½ cabbage, finely sliced
- 1 medium sized carrot, grated
- ¼ cup coleslaw dressing
- Dry roast the fennel, cumin and coriander seeds in a frying pan over a medium heat.
- Combine all the salt and spices (and chilli flakes if you want it hot) in a food processor and blend until powdery (or use a mortar and pestle), then rub into the pork.
- Place the pork in a slow cooker, cover with coke and let it cook on a low setting for 8 hours or so. Turn meat once if you can be bothered.
- Remove pork from its liquor and pull apart using forks. It should be buttery soft and falling apart.
- Empty the slow cooker of all the liquor, saving about ½ cup.
- Return the pulled pork to the slow cooker, add the reserved liquor and a couple of tablespoons of BBQ sauce and mix it up.
- Turn heat to high for about 15 minutes to warm through.
- Make the coleslaw by combining the cabbage, carrot and dressing.
- Serve in buns, with coleslaw and extra BBQ sauce.