Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Crock pot pulled pork and a secret ingredient

Here is the post I promised on Sunday, the one that called for BBQ sauce.

Before I go into lengthy descriptions I just wanted to say this recipe is for my friend Y.

Why you ask?

First of all she just got her first Le Creuset for her birthday so I am psyched that my next few posts involve my beloved, appropriately pumpkin-colored crock pot.

Second of all, the girl grew up in Houston so I thought a real Southern, meaty dish served with BBQ sauce couldn't be more appropriate.

Third, the girl loves Coke.

Coke? What does Coke have to do with it?


Ok, so let me start from the beginning.

Several moons ago, and I mean several, that same girl was pregnant with a baby who is almost two now. She and her husband and first child were visiting in us in Milan and I bought a six pack of caffeine-free Coke for her to drink while we enjoyed a glass of wine or beer or whatever is was we were drinking. Well, a few of those cans were still lurking in a corner of my kitchen until recently. I usually don't keep soft drinks in the house, soda is a rare treat for my kids. But lately they had started noticing those red and gold cans. Asking about them, hinting they wanted some. A lot. I had to get rid of them.

Fast forward to  a few days ago, when I was rightly so, gawking at pictures on Foodgawker of pulled pork sandwiches. I had been reading recipes for pulled pork long before I got my Le Creuset last year. I had some friends coming over for dinner and I decided the time had come. I came across quite a few recipes that used Coke as one of the main ingredients to make this delicacy. I realized it wasn't authentic, and I have to admit it sounded a little revolting at first but the more I thought about it the more it made sense. I was sure the Coke would tenderize the meat fabulously, and realized the sugar and other aromas would somehow work. Plus, it would be a great way to get rid of those cans. So that is how I killed my proverbial pig birds with one stone.


The result was melt-in-your-mouth, flavorful meat that I served alongside white polenta (which I in turn served again with leftovers grilled) and doused in the home made barbecue sauce. I certainly made for a different meal here in the Old Continent and a succulent one if I may add. Whatever you do, make lots so you can enjoy left overs, perhaps one of those sandwiches that triggered this whole post.

Also, need I add that this is the perfect meal to prepare when you have a lot of other things going on and you want a great result without too much effort?

Adapted from

about 2kg pork roast (I got one piece shoulder and one piece butt)
2 pressed garlic cloves
3 small onions sliced thinly
1/4 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
1/4 tsp Pimenton de la Vera (or cayenne pepper), ground
1 tsp liquid smoke
3 cans of Coca-Cola (or enough to cover the meat; if it doesn't turn the pieces a few times)
a pinch of salt 
barbecue sauce 

Soften the onions in some oil in the crock pot. Place the meat in the pot, add in the garlic, pepper and Pimenton de la Vera, the liquid smoke and the Coca-Cola. Set the meat on low heat and cook for 8-10 hours. When ready, remove from the pot, remove bones and trim fat. Use a fork to begin pulling the pork apart. You can serve the barbecue sauce mixed in. I preferred to serve it with a little of the cooking liquid mixed in to keep it moist and drizzled the sauce on top.
The result was delicious, exactly how I imagined it, although I might add a little salt next time I make it (so I included it in the ingredients - you know, to contrast the sweetness). Of the two pieces I preferred the shoulder as it is a fattier cut (which made it more tender) with a more complex flavor, but both were fall-apart soft.


  1. DRroooooOOOOl Love the seriously looks amazing! Coke is amazing. Sometimes we use it to boil eggs with soy sauce. :-)
    I'll bet Dr Pepper would work well too!

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  2. Thanks for this, now really can't wait to try my new le creuset!!! Also, any dish cooked with coke is a winner in my book, I swear that soft drink has 101 uses, I should probably write a book! Now I need to go make your homemade bbq sauce but first your homemade ketchup, so I can make your bbq sauce to go with your pulled pork....

  3. Sophia - boil eggs with coke and soy sauce? Love it! Keep the suggestions coming!
    Moomser - I admit I used store bought ketchup to make the home made BBQ sauce...hehe

  4. Your pork looks so delicious! I remember watching Nigella cook a ham in coke on telly when I was younger so totally get the principle of cooking with coke - sounds bonkers but really works!

  5. For some reason when I was 15 I bought a cooking book with recipes featuring coca cola. I can't remember why on Earth I did that, since I didn't drink coke, and I was actually avoiding pretty much every multinational.. Anyway, since then, I am convinced coke has potential as a cooking ingredient. I think this pork proves it beyond any reasonable doubt (still not convinced about that recipe of lobster soup with coke, though).

  6. Your pictures are great! I actually have a post coming out with pulled pork in salsa verde tomorrow. Check out my slow cooker recipe contest!

  7. Coke in the sauce! I need to try this!

  8. Looks great! I never cooked pulled pork and never used coke in a dish, but am thinking maybe I should try.

  9. The LL - I remember seeing that Nigella Xmas special, and maybe that is why I trusted the recipe.
    La CR - why did we do most of the things we did when we were 15? I am open to trying new things, but lobster and coke? Then again, who knows...maybe it really works.
    Bree - I will look up your post and check out the contest. Thanks for visiting.
    ToB - the coke is in the cooking liquid, not in the BBQ sauce. But it is worth trying.
    Pola - this is my first attempt too, but I am satisfied.

  10. Yummmmmm I have never made pulled pork, but this post is making me drool!!! I don't have a Le Creuset...mmmm... will have to fix that soon... maybe at Christmas?! ;-)

  11. I always pre bake my pork ribs with 2 cans coke half a can of orange juice concentrate and red pepper flakes before i finish them on the grill

    1. I can't grill from my apartment but will be sure to try it in the oven.

  12. Making this for my husband's birthday this weekend. Don't have a crockpot. OK to just slow cook on the stove? (I see you mention Le Creuset here and I do have one!) Also, no coke, like you I never buy the stuff but I do have some ginger ale. Wonder how that would do!

    1. I cooked it in the stove on a Le Creuset so that will work for sure. I am sure all carbonated drinks with sugar help break down the meat and make it more tender. I just think coke gives it a more caramelized flavor and color. The ginger flavor could actually be very interesting. Let me know if you use it and how it works out.

  13. I know it's an old post, but wanted to say to the one who asked about ginger ale. We have tried both coke and ginger ale and like the ale much better. Hope you enjoy it.

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  15. I have yet to find a pork shoulder here in Italy that shreds like the one my sister cooks for me in California. Although my slow-cooked pork shoulder has a nice flavor, it's tight. So please tell me, where and/or how do you find these cuts? I live in between Tuscany and Umbria where I like to say "pig is big" so I don't think it should be too difficult -- but it is. Thanks!

    1. Hi Mrs. Cugliani and sorry for taking so long to answer you. I haven't made pulled pork since I posted this recipe and am not sure where I bought the meat: I often buy pork at the supermarket (possibly organic, but not always), other times at the butcher or at a cascina. I am sure the Coke had a lot to do with tenderizing the meat, as did the long, slow cooking process.

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