Pulled Pork: Pressure Cooker vs Slow Cooker

I’m on a quest to perfect oven/grill-less pulled pork.
I need to figure out if I should be using a pressure cooker or a slow cooker for pork shoulder PLUS I need to know if boneless/bone in matters PLUS I need to know if alcohol content in cooking liquid matters PLUS should I dry brine?

The first time I made pork shoulder, I got some beer and onions and put the whole lot in a slow cooker. I cant remember how long I cooked it, but I do remember the issue of the cooker getting too hot. However, I watched it close, and the pork was altogether tender and perfectly cooked. I used a bone-in cut.
I have also tried other cooking liquids like whiskey. I have tried boneless in the slow cooker too, but nothing was as tender as that first time. I’m pretty sure I tried another bone in, but maybe I used a different cooking liquid or something else happened, but still couldn’t match that first time with the budweiser. But there are so many factors that come into play, I’m not very scientific about trying new things.

Fast forward to the electric pressure cooker. I used boneless and it seems like the pressure cooker is making my meat tough. Things might still get tenderish, but not super great. I even tried carnitas and cooking in lard. Nada. I also think I might not have salted the carnita fat enough. Tried a dry brine, didn’t seem to help.

So basically, there are so many variables going on. I would prefer to use boneless in the pressure cooker, and I’ve heard if you dry brine, it helps keep things tender. I also suspect that it’s a bad idea to cook the meat in any alcohol whatsoever, although maybe beer, being sugary, actually is fine. Also, I’m wondering if I should use a steaming rack in the cooker.
I don’t know, should I just go back to the bone-in with beer in the pressure crockpot???

Here are my notes from when I did it and it came out awesome. I am sure I used bone-in.
1.Slice lots and lots of onions and at least one bulb fennel and put in bottom of crockpot.
2.Aggressively season pork shoulder with dry rub and then add some more. (Try doing this a day ahead.)
3.Put pork shoulder on veggies, add a small slurp of broth [or beer], put foil over crockpot then add lid.
4.Cook on low for 8.5 hours, then keep warm another hour or so (but would probably be fine sooner).
5.Remove all fat and pull or chunk all the pork while hot, it becomes very hard to do so once it cools.

Why would you put foil over the crockpot? The lid isn’t tight enough?

How much liquid do you end up with? Just did boneless (thought I had bought bone in, curses walmart) added a cup of beer and a cup of water. 2 onions. High for 1.5 hr and low for maybe 6 hr. Law 2 hours I cracked the lid open wide.

It was still pretty watery and kinda fibrous. Should I have not added water?

Pork shoulder puts out a lot of liquid. When I do it I marinate it overnight & put the marinade in with the pork. Usually the pad has liquid up to about 2/3 of the pork when it’s done. The marinade is about 2 cups to start. Now I do this in the oven in a roasting pan so your results may vary.

If it’s tough out of the pressure cooker I think it didn’t cook long enough. A PC will make granite tender if you leave it in long enough. Personally, I wouldn’t use a PC for that. I think low & slow is going to give a better result. Or, so it seems to me.

What do you marinade in? I’ve heard marinading is overhyped, and most are acidic which is bad unless you’re going to cook it soon and quickly. Otherwise, the meat is just getting tougher, so better to make a sauce.

I guess I’m confused on what you’re trying to accomplish. Pulled pork to me means BBQ and I don’t see evidence that is what your final product is.

1 Like

That would be my guess, no water needed. I am sure I did not put even one cup of liquid in.

1 Like

Yeah, I am not sure where I got my technique from but usually I read a bunch of recipes and kind of approximate so I am sure I read it somewhere. Point is, I was so happy with the results I wrote down what I did. And I often don’t bother.

1 Like

Oh, I’m not against it. Always intrigued about new techniques and ideas.

1 Like

Onions, garlic, bay leaves, brown sugar, allspice, olive oil & some red wine. I marinate it for 24 hrs in the roasting pan & then add salt & put the whole works in the oven @ 325 for 3-4 hours. I probably start out with 2 cups of marinade but this is not a recipe that I measure so don’t ask me how much. I’m not getting into the bbq vs roasting thing. All I can say is that I like it and when we do this for a crowd there’s never any left.

1 Like

I make pork roast in my crock pot all the time.
Just wondering if pulled pork is a generic expanded category meaning any fall apart pork?

I am going to have to dissent. I love using my oven for an indoor pulled pork. Low and slow, and it turns out great! I just don’t like how uncontrolled my crock pot is. It is just way too hot, and the food ends up boiling. I don’t care for that.

I use bone in, and rub it with one of the commercially available rubs. I also add a teaspoon of liquid smoke. Then I left it rest in the fridge for at least 24, and up to 36 hours.

I used a cast iron dutch oven to cook the pork in. I place the pork in, then put the lid on. I cook it for 12 hours at 200 degrees. I don’t want it to boil! This is a long cook time, so I put the pork in the oven when I go to bed, and do a delay start on the oven, for early morning until I get home from work at night.

I pull the roast out of the pot and let it cool slightly on a tray. There is a lot of liquid juice and some fat left in the pot. When it has cooled slightly, I start pulling it apart. I pour some of the liquid from the pot back into the pulled pork for added flavor and moistness.

Right out of the oven, I prefer to eat it without any sauce. It’s just that flavorful! It also does great frozen and then reheated. I just had some last night, and it was wonderful.

Of course you have to feel comfortable leaving the oven on for that length of time. I figure it’s low and slow, no chance of spills so I do it with no fear.

5 Likes

I think so - yes.

1 Like

I have a pretty solid oven pulled pork method. It requires a little bit of work but well worth it IMO.

Put some salt on your pork shoulder. Throw it into a dutch oven, put a lid on and it goes into the oven. 200 degrees for as long as it needs to get really tender. I usually put it in the oven when I go to sleep and check in the morning.

There will be a ton of liquid in the pot. Throw the liquid in a fat separator and get the juice into a pan and reduce. Don’t separate out all the fat though. This becomes the base for your sauce - make it however you like - spice rub and bbq sauce is an obvious choice. Mexican flavors are my personal favorite. Jerk is good too. You can also fry up some aromatics and add it to the sauce too.

Pull your pork and add the sauce. Let em hang out this way if you have time so the pork and sauce can make love to each other.

Set the sauced pork onto a sheetpan and put it into a screaming hot broiler so it can get a little char.

2 Likes

Doesn’t venigar break down proteins and is know to make meat mushy if over marinated?

Not sure about that. I know baking soda can do that. I suppose a strong acid or base would do its fair share of damage either way.

Getting back to pressure cooker vs slow cooker, any insight anyone?

No water. My mom’s version of Dutch oven goulash was marshmallow-sized chunks of beef chuck plus about enough chopped onion to be half the volume of the S&P-seasoned meat. Bay leaves and cloves. Sear the meat, add the rest, cover, cook on stovetop on medium, stir in occasionally, till the meat is fork–tender. There’s PLENTY of sauce by the time it’s done.

1 Like

Pulled pork was invented for peoples with a denture …

1 Like
“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold