There are some, in the barbecuing and pork connoisseur communities, that will find everything about this post repellent. But you know what, today’s post isn’t for the people that have 24 hours to spend cooking a pork shoulder low ‘n’ slow to get the best pulled pork. Today’s post is here for the everyday person – the person who just wants a few tips and tricks (and heck, even a few cheats here and there) to make delicious recipes without all the bells and whistles.
So today, we’re going to talk about how to use pork chops for pulled pork, and you know what? What we’ll share with you today will be delicious. Will it taste exactly like a 24 hour cooked pork shoulder? No. But it’ll taste great anyway, so if you don’t have the time then reach for those pork chops, because we’ll tell you how to turn it into pulled pork.
Oh, and if you’re from one of those traditional barbecuing communities that swear pork chops aren’t an option for pulled pork, we challenge you to give this a go when you’re low on time but still want pulled pork. Trust us, nothing horrible will happen if you do, and how great it tastes might just surprise you…
The Short Answer
Pork chops are great for pulled pork. They don’t have as much fat as a traditional pork shoulder, so they will need plenty of sauce and liquid to keep them tender and juicy, but that doesn’t stop them from being an option. Later on, we’ll share a great way of cooking pork chops for pulled pork so you can enjoy all those familiar flavors and textures in far less time than it takes to cook a shoulder.
All you need to know for now is that it can be done. It won’t take as long, and the results will still be tasty, too. In fact, using pork chops for pulled pork doesn’t have to be a last-minute second-best option either. There are some reasons you should use pork chops for pulled pork, even if you have the time for other options…
Why You Should Use Pork Chops For Pulled Pork
First off, the time difference. What might take up to 12 hours (and that’s often a quick recipe, too, some might take over a day) to serve a traditional pulled pork could take you as little as 5 hours. That’s a serious benefit right off the mark, because not everybody has the time to worry about pulled pork. Instead, being able to throw everything into a crock pot and leave it for 5 hours without thinking about it is perfect.
Second, the portion control. If you live alone or have a small family with a small appetite, cooking a whole
pork shoulder might feel a little excessive. Here all you need are as many pork chops as you please. If it’s just you, 2 pork chops will be enough to serve you for dinner tonight, and lunch tomorrow, and you won’t have an excessive amount of leftovers at all.
Finally, if you’re quite a health conscious, then pork chops are the better option. They’re much less fatty than pork shoulders, and so they’re better for you. In fact, pork chops are some of the leanest cuts of meat you can get, so using pork chops in your pulled pork is a great way of enjoying something delicious, but cutting out some of those calories.
How To Cook Pork Chops For Pulled Pork
Cooking pork chops for pulled pork could not be easier. There’s no specific recipe or length of time you need to stick to, really. You could cook it for as little as 5 hours, or as long as 8 – it all just depends on the time you have. For the recipe we’ll share with you today, you’ll only need 5 hours cooking time, but you can tweak this basic recipe however you please. So, before we get into the details of how to cook the pork chops, let’s just look at what you’ll need.
The following recipe will serve a family of four comfortably, but you can tweak it however you please to suit your needs:
- 4 on-the-bone pork chops
- Barbecue sauce (an entire bottle)
- Honey (1 tablespoon)
- Butter (enough to fry your onions and garlic)
- Onions (2, finely chopped)
- Garlic (3 cloves, finely chopped)
- Brown sugar (1 tablespoon)
- Mustard (2 heaped tablespoons, more if you like a little spice)
- A pinch of salt
- A pinch of pepper
How To Cook
Start by oiling your crock pot to prevent the pork chops from sticking. For this recipe, you won’t even need to brown the pork beforehand. Next, melt your butter and fry the onions and garlic. Just sweat down the ingredients enough to release the flavor and scent – only around 2-3 minutes. Then stir in the remaining ingredients – the barbecue sauce, honey, sugar, mustard, salt, and pepper – and allow the sauce to simmer for a little while until it thickens, then pour it over the pork chops in the crock pot.
Cook for around 5 hours before shredding the meat and removing the bones. We’ll get on to how to do that later, but for now, that’s the basic recipe for pork chops pulled pork. See how easy it is? Not browning the meat removes an extra step, and throwing everything into a crock pot just takes all the worry out of it.
The liquid helps keep the meat nice and juicy, because it doesn’t have the amount of fat that’s typically present in pork shoulder, which is typically used for pulled pork. The fat in a pork shoulder usually breaks down and thickens the sauce too, so by cooking the sauce a little on the stove, the sauce starts to thicken for your pork chops and you cheat the system a little. And remember, if the sauce isn’t quite right once the chops are done, you can always thicken it some more on the stove once the pork chops are pull-apart ready.
Does Browning The Pork Chops First Make A Difference?
No, browning the pork chops won’t make a difference in this recipe. Why? The crock pot takes care of all the cooking for you in just 5 hours, and the barbecue sauce you make will add the color. Browning the pork chops might result in a slightly darker barbecue sauce, but in terms of the flavor, there’s little difference. When you’re in a rush, concentrate on thickening the sauce, rather than browning the meat when you’re using pork chops for pulled pork.
The Difference Between A Pork Chop And A Pork Shoulder
We’ve spoken a lot about pork chops and pork shoulders throughout this post, so we thought now would be a good point to talk about the differences some more. Yes, this section is an ode to the traditional barbecuing communities out there, so nobody can say we’ve misled them. So, is pork shoulder better for pulled pork than pork chops? Probably, but if you don’t have the time or you’re looking for a healthier option, then pork chops win.
A pork shoulder works great for pulled pork because all the connective tissues, fat, and succulent meat break down to create a really delicious pulled pork. The fats help keep the meat tender and juicy whilst thickening the sauce, and the quality of the meat itself will always deliver a delicious dish. But it’s no secret that a pork shoulder will take longer than pork chops to turn into pulled pork. And if you follow our recipe above? Well, the meat will still be tender and juicy and the sauce will still be delicious, so you’re not missing out on anything.
So whilst yes, barbecuing communities, we can admit that pork shoulder is probably the best option in terms of flavor and overall pulled pork satisfaction – it’s not the only option, and a pulled pork made from pork chops is not a bad thing, no matter what the traditionalists tell you.
How To Shred Cooked Pork Chops
Shredding your cooked pork chops to turn them into pulled pork couldn’t be easier. First, you’ll need to take out the bones. Then all you need are two forks. After 5 hours in the crock pot, your meat should just fall off the bone, and then the forks are really just there to help pull the meat apart to create the pulled pork.
Mix the pulled pork with the delicious barbecue sauce you made earlier, and then you’ll be able to judge if the sauce is too liquid-y. If it is, just throw everything into a pot on the stove and simmer until the barbecue sauce thickens a little more. Once it’s the perfect consistency, just serve it however you please. For us, it’s in the middle of a bun – plain, simple, and delicious – but you can enjoy this recipe in as many ways as you can imagine too!
A Reassuring Message…
Before we leave, we just want to reassure everybody (and especially those who may have been triggered by our pork chops post today) that yes, pork chops are a great option for pulled pork, but if you have the time, pork shoulder works best. The point we’re trying to make is that we’re not suggesting pork chops should replace the pork shoulder as your go-to cut of meat for pulled pork.
But if you want to cut some corners, save some time, have a healthier option, or simply want to mix things up a little, then don’t forget the humble pork chop. Trust us, there’s room in the world for pork shoulder AND pork chops for pulled pork. You don’t even need to tell your traditional barbecuing friends you tried the pork chop way, either. Nobody but you and us will know, and we promise we won’t tell a soul. So go on, try the pork chops for your next pulled pork. We’re confident it won’t disappoint!