Monday, December 3, 2012

Slow-Cooker Pulled-Pork Chili

It's pretty safe to say I like chili. It's the first thing we all here in the South want to cook as soon as the temperature just starts to cool down, and college football season gets underway. I've posted numerous chili recipes here, from my standby plain chili recipe, to recipes for vegetarian roasted pepper chili, black bean & cilantro-lime chili, and even "white" chilis made from chicken or leftover Thanksgiving turkey. One thing I've never tried, though, is a pork-based chili. 

The idea came from a post-run discussion yesterday with my half-marathon training group. We were all talking about football foods for the SEC Championship Game (side note: CONGRATS TO BAMA AND ROLL TIDE!), and the subject of smoked pork came up. Long story short, some of us batted around the idea of using smoked pulled pork in chili, almost like a Brunswick stew, but with all of the chili flavors we love so much. 

Coincidentally, Publix is running a sale on Boston Butts for $1.99 per pound, so I decided I'd try my hand at a pulled pork chili, using my go-to slow-cooker pulled pork recipe as a starting off point. The vinegar in the pulled pork added the perfect compliment to all of the smoky flavors I added to the chili; this chili turned out bold, robust and incredibly hearty - I was MORE than pleased with how everything turned out! 

Slow-Cooker Pulled-Pork Chili

1 4-5 lb pork shoulder roast (Boston Butt)
2 cups apple juice
1 cup apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 Tbsp Liquid Smoke
1/2 Tbsp garlic powder
2 onions, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 cans black beans, rinsed & drained
2 cans kidney beans, rinsed & drained
1 14.5oz can diced tomatoes with green chilies
2 8oz cans tomato sauce
1 7.5oz can chipotles in adobo sauce 
1 Tbsp Mexican chili powder
1 Tbsp Ancho chili powder
1 Tbsp smoked paprika
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp kosher salt

Rub the pork generously with your spice rub. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. 

Combine the apple juice, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, Liquid Smoke and garlic powder; pour in the bottom of a large slow cooker. Place the rubbed pork in the slow cooker, with the fat pad facing UP. 

Cover and cook on LOW for 8-10 hours, or until the pork is tender and the shoulder blade bone pulls out easily. Remove from the pork from the cooker and let cool until easy to handle; once cooled, shred the meat with two forks. 

Reserve 1 quart (4 cups) of the cooking liquid from the slow cooker. Carefully skim off any fat from the stock - if necessary, chill the stock until the fat solidifies, or carefully ladle it off. 

To prepare the chili, saute the onion and bell pepper in 2 Tbsp of oil or butter until just softened. Add to a large pot, along with the pulled pork (about 2-3 lbs worth) and the 4 cups of reserved cooking liquid. 

Add the beans, tomatoes and tomato sauce. Chop the chipotle peppers, and add them to the pot along with the adobo sauce. Add the chili powders, paprika, cumin and salt. 

Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for one hour. 


  1. This looks REALLY good.

    1. Thanks, Brian! It WAS really good!

  2. What can you put in place of apple juice?

  3. low acidic juice. ive used white grape juice before.

  4. This was delicious! I loved the pork so much I'm making it again (for sammies and tacos). What did you do with the saved cooking stock?

    1. I didn't do anything with it this time, but often I will skim the fat off and reduce the cooking liquid a bit, then freeze it as cooking stock. Makes soups and other dishes SO much more flavorful!