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Recipe of the Week: Kick off the summer grilling season with a Southern favorite


Memorial Day weekend traditionally kicks off the summer grilling season with hamburgers as the main dish of choice on many menus.

But there is nothing that says it has to be that way. When planning a gathering of family and friends another option is that Southern favorite, pulled pork. Born out of the Southern traditions of barbecue, it’s an entrée that can be made in advance and one where no one has to stand over a hot grill.

Pulled pork can be as simple or as fancy as you choose to make it. It is as easy as combining cooked, shredded pork with your favorite barbecue sauce, or as fancy as creating a special rub for the meat using your favorite spices.

When serving pulled pork allow for shrinkage of the pork roast by up to 50% during cooking, and figure on about eight ounces of pulled pork per person. A pork shoulder is the favored cut for pulled pork. The liquid added to the pot to cook the meat can be whatever you like: cola, apple juice, water or beer.

Pulled pork is casual enough to pair well with traditional Memorial Day side dishes such as macaroni and potato salads, coleslaw, baked beans, fruit salad and strawberry shortcake.

This recipe from lets you choose the method of cooking: in the oven, slow cooker or Instant Pot:

Pulled Pork

4 pounds pork shoulder or butt

2 tablespoons oil (optional if searing)

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

12 ounces cola (not diet)

barbecue sauce for coating meat (optional)

1. Trim pork of excess fat and cut into 4 pieces.

2. Combine spices in a small bowl and rub all over the pork. (This can be done the night before).

3. Sear (optional): Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a Dutch oven pot over medium-high heat. Add the meat and sear for a few seconds on all sides.

4. Oven method: Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Pour cola around the pork in the Dutch oven pot. Cover pot with lid and cook for 3 hours. Remove lid and cook for an additional 1 to 2 hours, until pork is tender and easily pulls apart with a fork. Remove from oven and shred meat. Toss in barbecue sauce, if desired.

5. Slow cooker method: Place pork in slow cooker and pour cola around it. Cover and cook on LOW (recommended) 8 hours or high for 4 to 5 hours, until pork is tender and shreds easily with a fork. Toss in barbecue sauce, if desired.

6. Instant Pot method: Place pork in Instant Pot and pour cola around it. Cook on manual/high pressure for 70 minutes. When timer beeps, allow the pot to naturally release pressure, about 15 minutes longer. Remove lid and shred the meat. Toss in barbecue sauce, if desired.

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