Cuban Sandwich Style Pulled Pork
5-7lb Pork Shoulder
4 tbsp yellow mustard
1 cup pickle juice
1 hard apple cider
5 cloves garlic (smashed up a bit)
Pickled vegetables (sauerkraut, pickles, etc.)
Smear the pork shoulder with mustard and place in the slow cooker (you could also let it sit in the fridge covered overnight if you want the flavor to go in deeper). Pour the pickle juice and cider around the sides of the pork and toss in the garlic cloves.
Cook on "low" (I recommend NEVER using the "high" setting unless you like tough meat) for 6 to 8 hours. Avoid the temptation to open the lid early too. The trapped steam is what cooks the portion of the meat above the liquid and you don't want to mess with that.
When the meat is tender and falling off the bone, serve it with pickled vegetables and wash it down with another hard cider.
Every couple of weeks I pick up a nice fatty pork shoulder (aka pork "butt", aka "Boston roast" from the store and throw it in my slow cooker. The well-marbled meat, perfect for the "low and slow" treatment", inevitably comes out flavorful, juicy, and fork tender.
The trouble is, I'm super ADD and can never do the same thing the same way twice. I'm always playing with flavors, cook times, etc. and so I never know what is going to come out of the crock pot, magic or inedible mush. Fortunately for you, the kitchen atrocities don't make it onto the blog, I only share the keepers with you, and this time, we've got a keeper.
As Miami Florida native, I was raised with the flavors of Cuba. My mom would take us shopping and, depending on how well my sister and I behaved, we would get rewarded with a croqueta or some other little snack. We didn't have much money growing up, so these little treats meant a lot and were savored like a the rare treasure that they were. As I got older, I reconnected with my upbringing by visiting Cuban restaurants outside of my hometown. A consistent staple, of course, was the Cuban sandwich.
The classic Cuban sandwich is a flavorful combination of roast pork, ham, cheese, and yellow mustard pressed between flaky Cuban bread. The sourness of the pickles and mustard cut the richness of the pork, and the crispy texture of the bread provides just the right amount of textural contrast to bring the whole thing together.
Going back to my pork shoulder, I decided to bring in some of these flavors and qualities while ditching the bread entirely. I typically don't bother trying to make Paleo versions of things like bread (although I have certainly done so in the past) because at this stage of the game, I don't even crave bread-like substances. If I really want a damn piece of bread that bad, I'll just eat it and then go back to my regular Paleo-style diet. But I digress. As far as this recipe is concerned, it's all about the meat and veggies, so to bring some crunch and texture to the table, I recommend pairing the pork with naturally fermented pickled vegetables like sauerkraut. (If you can get it, get Bubbies, that shit is good!)
One more thing, you might be wondering why I diverged from my purely Latin inspiration by the addition of hard apple cider. The bottom line is that I've been on a real cider kick lately and knew that I would want to drink one with my meal. As it is with wine, I think it is only proper to cook with what you're drinking. The cider also lends a bit of sweetness that pairs well with pork.