Question: What’s the first thing you do when the FAA closes the airport for a raging thunder-and-lightning storm and you are stuck forever on an airliner?
Answer: Grab a glass of a champagne and start discussing barbecue techniques and tiny barbecue joints with the guy sitting next to you!
And that is just how I learned the Coca-Cola trick. Whilst chatting about ‘cue, my new acquaintance Carson Gilbert related to me one of his favorite techniques for making pulled pork. Rather than slow cooking a pork shoulder for hours over low heat on the grill, Carson uses a crock pot and a can of Coke to slowly braise the pork. If you live in an area where winter is cold and snowy, you’ll think this is a great trick. You can now have pulled pork sandwiches all year ’round!
I had used Coca-Cola to make nails disappear in high school science projects, so I suspected the same corrosive liquid might be able to tenderize a pork shoulder. Carson’s technique sounded just goofy enough to try. Of course now, I am a complete believer! Plain or with sauce, this pulled pork is a no-brainer for the days when you just don’t have time to tend a grill for 10 hours.
After the better part of a day in the crock pot, the bone slides out of the shoulder and the pork pulls apart at the lightest touch. It is moist, flavorful, and ready to stuff between two slices of white bread. Pile some vinegar-based coleslaw in there, to boot. I like to mix in some great barbecue sauce from Lannie’s, a tiny joint in Selma, Alabama, that has been making barbecue since 1942. It adds just enough tang and spice, without covering up the flavor of the meat.
For a little extra kick, squeeze a pickled jalapeño over your pulled pork, and let the juice soak into the meat. It’s awesome!
Note: This recipe takes two days to make, but most of the time, the pork sits unattended in a crock pot and then rests quietly in the refrigerator overnight.
1 bone-in pork shoulder
1 can of Coca-Cola
pickled jalapeño peppers (optional)
Trim the pork shoulder, salt liberally with Kosher salt, then place in a crock pot. Add one can of Coca-Cola, then cover shoulder with water. Cook on low for 10-12 hours.
Gently remove pork shoulder from crock pot and transfer to a large oven-proof container. Cover and place in refrigerator overnight. Discard cooking liquid.
The next day, about two hours before eating, place pork shoulder, still covered, in a 200°F oven and slowly reheat. When thoroughly reheated, remove from oven, gently pull apart with fork or fingers, and serve immediately.
Serve with coleslaw, barbecue sauce, cheap white bread, and plenty of beer and napkins.