Slow-cooking a meal on Saturday evening has become a weekly tradition for my wife and I. After we’ve done our grocery shopping and enjoyed our afternoon, we typically come home, prep for dinner and let a delicious meal cook while we relax.
This past Saturday, we decided to make pulled pork barbeque sandwiches with a side of roasted root vegetables. Since pork shoulder and root veggies take so long to cook, we rarely prepare them during the week. Because we have all the time in the world to relax and sit around the house while everything cooks, making a meal like this on the weekend works perfectly. And, we always cook large portions, so we eat the leftovers throughout the week.
To start the meal, I put a two-pound pork shoulder roast into a pot on the stove. Although many people like to roast barbeque in the oven, I find it works best on the range. This way, the meat stays juicy, I can check on its doneness more easily and it frees up the oven for other items.
Along with about a spoonful of olive oil, I rubbed the roast down with salt, pepper, paprika, cinnamon, Worcestershire sauce and molasses. I added about a third of a cup of apple cider vinegar to the pot as well. Being from the Tar Heel State, I always associate pork barbeque with Carolina style pulled pork and cook my pig with plenty of vinegar.
For a lazy Saturday, it’s nice to have such little prep work, and the next steps are even easier. I put the burner on medium-low heat, cover the pot and let the meat cook for one hour and 45 minutes. I try to turn it at least once so it cooks evenly on both sides. It’s important not move it too much, though. Otherwise, the heat won’t penetrate as deeply and the pork will take longer to cook.
At this point, the BBQ starts falling apart. Instead of cutting the meat – since this is pulled pork – I use either tongs or forks to break the roast into small pieces, but I don’t completely shred it just yet. Next, I add about 2/3 of a cup of store-bought barbeque sauce – we usually opt for Rufus Teague – and put everything on medium heat for around 20 minutes.
To finish the barbeque, all that’s left is to shred it. After turning off the heat, I use a couple of forks to pull the meat into strips. Since the pork has cooked for so long and is already separating on its own, this step is fairly easy. Once everything is well shredded, it’s ready to eat!
Now, it’s time to turn our attention to the side dish. Once I get the pork cooking, I prep and chop my veggies. For Saturday’s dinner, I used five carrots, six small russet potatoes, four fennel bulbs and a large red onion. These vegetables are fairly easy to prep – just peel the carrots and the onion, wash the potatoes and cut the stalks off the fennel – and I only give them a rough chop. Since they’ll roast for a long time, I cut the veggies into fairly large pieces so that they cook through without turning into mush.
As I cut the vegetables, I place them into a large baking pan. Once they’re all chopped, I toss them in a tablespoon of olive oil and season them with salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme and sage. Then, I cover the pan with aluminum foil, and bake it in the oven at 360 degrees for one hour.
By now, most of the vegetables are cooked through and fork tender. However, I take the foil off and place them back in the oven at 375 for 25 minutes in order to brown them. Simply baking root veggies might cook them, but it doesn’t do much to bolster their flavor. By cooking them uncovered for even a short amount of time, it ensures that they turn a nice golden color. When the outside layer begins to caramelize, it changes the taste and makes everything a bit sweeter and richer in flavor.
If my BBQ and vegetables aren’t done at the same time or we want to wait a bit for dinner – which often happens on a lazy Saturday – I turn the heat off and leave the veggies in the stove or the pork on the range until we’re ready to eat. Before plating, I toast a few pieces of bread – we used a French sourdough – for the sandwiches. Then, I simply pile on the barbeque, spoon out the vegetables and dig in!
The whole meal cost around $30. With enough food for 6 portions, that comes to $5 per serving. Remember that you can always use vegetables that are on sale and skip the premade barbeque sauce to save even more money.
All in all, our meal of pulled pork BBQ sandwiches with roasted root vegetables was delicious, affordable and slow-cooked, and it made an excellent end to a wonderful Saturday. I hope you get the chance to try it too.