During an overdue freezer inventory, we discovered a small collection of pork shoulders. Rather than be boring and smoke them all, I figured I’d try something new after hearing of this recipe from a friend. The original recipe called for pre-made cranberry sauce, but I thought it would be better to just add the ingredients for cranberry sauce raw and let it all come together in slow cooker. I’m happy to report it worked out very well. My only problem with the recipe I made was that I couldn’t specifically pick out the maple syrup. I’m not sure, ultimately, that’s a bad thing as I’m sure it contributed to the overall flavour, but I might try using a little more next time.
We paired this with creamed corn, coleslaw, and Sweet Hawaiian rolls. Most of us opted for open-faced sandwiches and used a fork, but a few brave soles are stubborn enough to try to pick these things up!
Cranberry Maple Pulled Pork
This dish is an easy, leave it all day in the slow cooker kind of meal. I was given the idea by a friend that got a recipe from a local meat market. Though I generally prefer my pork shoulders smoked, the cranberry aspect combined with the maple syrup provide a BBQ-sauce reminiscent note, with a firm tie-in to autumn cooking.
- 7-8 lbs pork shoulder bone in or out
- 1 lb fresh cranberries
- 0.5 cup orange juice
- 0.5 cup cranberry juice pure, not cocktail
- 0.5 cup honey
- 0.5 cup maple syrup I would do up to 1 cup if you really want the maple flavour to come through
- 3-4 cloves minced garlic
- 1 tsp onion powder feel free to use about 0.5 small onion instead
- 1 tbsp salt more or less ot taste
- fresh ground black pepper
- 1 bottle beer your choice, I prefer low hops for cooking generally. I used an Oktoberfest
- 3 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
This recipe is designed for an 8 qt slow cooker If yours is smaller just half the recipe. I always like to turn my slow cooker on while I'm loading it up, since they take so long to warm up anyway.
Layer the bottom of your slow cooker with the cranberries.
Add the orange juice, cranberry juice, garlic, and onion powder with the berries.
Rub the salt all over the pork shoulder, coat in as much black pepper as you like. Place the seasoned pork on top of the berries.
Cover the top of the pork with the honey and maple syrup. This probably isn't strictly necessary, but it seemed like a good idea.
Pour the beer over the whole thing, cover, and let cook on high 5-6 hours, or low for 7-8 hours.
When the pork is falling apart remove it to a bowl and set aside for now. This can be tricky given how tender the meat is now, so it's fine if you need to remove it in chunks.
Pour or ladel the juice/meat drippings left in the slow cooker through a strainer and into a jug. Return the strained out berries back to the slow cooker.
Heat the butter and olive oil in a pan over medium heat until the butter melts. Add the cornstarch and whisk until it just starts to brown (or go by smell if you're more used to that). Slowly add in the strained liquid while whisking to create a gravy.
Add in 3/4 of the strained liquid, set the pan to medium-low heat and let it simmer for about 30 minutes to reduce. Stir occasionally.
Head back over to your pork, which is ready for shredding! Shred it and mix it back into the slow cooker with the berries. Use the remaining 1/4 of your liquid and add it back as well. Replace the cover and wait for the gravy to reduce.
Drizzle the reduced gravy over the pork, serve as-is or as part of a delicious sandwich topped with coleslaw. Pairs well with any comfort food sides, like mac n' cheese or creamed corn.
Here is the link to the recipe where the original idea came from: https://www.lakegenevacountrymeats.com/recipes/cranberry-maple-pulled-pork