Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Barbecue Pork Tenderloin in a Crock Pot

We have found a recipe here, or rather pieced it together out of parts of others that has been amazingly flexible.  Never really having used a crock pot before, I didn't know how simple it was to make a meat and sauce sort of dish.  I tend to be the baker in the family, and other than grilling, if I am going to make dinner, it will be baked in the oven.  Typically serving sized pieces are all around 400F and around 30 minutes depending on thickness and cut and type of meat.

On the other hand, we have been experimenting with the crock pot that has been languishing in the kitchen under the counter gathering dust.  The recipes for stewing meats seem to be fairly standard.  Brown the meat in the skillet if you want a crust, put the pieces in the crock pot and cover with liquid that works like a marinade.  How much more basic can you get than that?

I did leave a few details out.  For the Pork Tenderloin, since I did the recipe yesterday, I'll give them to you but that is only half of the story.  I recommend starting the recipe, then going to work.  You will be chewing your legs off by mid afternoon.  Around 2pm there was so strong a Barbecue sauce smell in the house I opened the windows to "blow out the house"!

The raw ingredients for this recipe were:
  1. 2 2/3 pound of Pork Tenderloin, uncooked.  This is approximate and you can go up or down as your needs arise.  I did NOT brown the Pork since it won't be served as a piece of meat and will be shredded.
  2. 2 cups of pre-made Barbecue Sauce.  I used the excellent traditional Barbecue sauce that I get from GFS Marketplace. If you are not lucky enough to have a GFS Marketplace nearby either move or use your favorite recipe sauce from another vendor.  I suggest moving.  GFS is a wonderful store and I enjoy visiting the people there.  Vanessa is Great!
  3. 2 cups of water.
That's it.

Now keep in mind, what you're trying to do is get the tenderloin covered mostly with liquid.  You may use more sauce and water if you have a larger tenderloin, or less if your crock pot is a smaller one.  My pot is really quite large and swallows up the dishwasher when I try to be lazy and clean it there.   Recipes will go all the way up to 4 or 5 pounds in a crock pot so this is one of those Judgement Call Recipes.  It doesn't have to be floating in the pot, merely covered with the top peaking out is fine.

Start your crock pot on low heat.  If you use high heat it will get tough.  Remember you don't need 160F for whole pork, only ground pork.  I've seen recommendations varying from 140F to 155F.  Low worked out fine for me, and I'm alive to tell the tale!

Cook the meat for 8 hours in the crock pot. Mine has an automatic warm cycle and will turn the temperature down when it has hit the right amount of time.  If you are home while this happens you can check it from time to time rotating the meat, but it shouldn't be necessary.

When the meat has hit the warm cycle and is properly cooked, drain most of the liquid into a sauce pan. You will be left with your pork in the crock pot mostly dry.  Leave a little puddle in the bottom of the crock pot so it doesn't dry out.

Cook the liquid down on medium heat until most of the water boils out and the sauce returns to a proper consistency.   I had to do this last night because it was too wet.  The alternative is to use more BBQ sauce and less water, but the 8 hours of cooking will boil off a significant amount of water on its own.  If you use all Sauce and no water, you may end up with a caramelized goo in the bottom of the crock pot.  This worked for me, and the step took around 15 minutes or so at medium heat - a 5 out of 8 on an electric range.

Pour the reduced sauce over the pork and shred the pork with a fork. Mix well and have fun.  The pork should be very easy to shred with a standard dinner fork.  Mine literally fell apart while doing this and left me with the results in the picture even though the picture looks like its Already Been Chewed.  You know, the ABC food you joked about when you were a kid.

Serve and enjoy!

The end results were amazing.  I haven't had more tender Barbecue Pork ever and I have some excellent barbecue joints around here in South Florida.  This was about as painless a recipe as you can get.  I'll be having pulled pork barbecue sandwiches for the next couple days, and froze half of it in a ziploc bag.

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