My mom was never one to try foods that she wasn’t familiar with. Except on the one road trip I took with her, the summer after college graduation. We wound our way west of Michigan on that trip, stopping in cities throughout Illinois, Minnesota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado, and Missouri. We had a car, an atlas, some cash, and a plan to just see where the road would take us. It was one of the best vacations I’ve ever taken, but sadly, I’m not sure Mom remembers it now.
I’ve been thinking about that road trip quite a bit lately, especially when it comes to food. We were on the road for close to two weeks, I think, and we stopped and ate at diners and restaurants we thought we might like, simply based on a quick view of the menu. Mom ate spicy Mexican food, flavorful Chinese food, and down-home barbecue on that trip. I marveled at her ability to leave her reservations behind and to jump into food with a different culinary persona. She never did that again, as far as I can tell.
Now, I’m not always the most adventurous, either, but with four kids, I’m a bit tired of the same old menu. And since I knew that all four kids like pulled pork, I decided to try a recipe for slow-cooker pulled pork. I tweaked a few online recipes I found, and came up with this (the recipe can be halved, but I was going to serve 10 and also wanted leftovers):
7 pound pork shoulder
3-4 tablespoons paprika
3-4 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 to 1 cup of apple cider vinegar
1/2 to 1 cup of root beer
What to do:
- Mix the dried spices together and then rub into the pork, all sides.
- Pour the root beer and the vinegar into the bottom of the slow cooker.
- Add the pork, being careful that you don’t remove any spices.
- Cover and cook on low for 10 hours.
- Remove pork from the cooker and shred with a fork.
- Add the juices from the pork, if you feel like it, or serve with barbecue sauce.
Mom would like this dish. Maybe the next time my parents visit, I’ll make it for them.
(We served the pork with homemade mac and cheese, a corn salad (recipe to come soon), pan-fried potatoes, and fresh fruits and vegetables. I think the meal was a hit.)