There is something succulently delicious and heartwarming about family meals that cook for hours in a crockpot. The flavors blend and meld wonderfully. One such meal that can be made using this method is pork shoulder with brown sugar. Pork shoulder complements brown sugar very nicely, and every cook prepares this dish differently. It is important that you gather your ingredients near the crockpot ahead of time so that you won’t need to stop to gather anything during preparation. Here are some tips on preparing pork shoulder with brown sugar in the crockpot.
The Basics of the Recipe
If the tenderloin has excess fat, you want to trim it off before seasoning it and placing it in the crockpot. However, you don’t want to trim too much off since fat adds flavor to the recipe. Once you trim the fat, season the tenderloin with:
- 2 cups of dark brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons of black pepper
- 3 teaspoons of salt
- 3 teaspoons of garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper
- A few dashes of Worcestershire sauce
Now that you have seasoned your pork shoulder place it in the crockpot. Next you will need to add about four to five cups of beef stock. Lastly, add:
- 3 cups of chopped onions
- 2 to 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 cups of diced carrots
- 3 cups of red potatoes
After you place all the ingredients in the crockpot, turn it on a low-to-medium level and cook for about six-to-seven hours.
Brown Sugar Sauce
Some people like to prepare a brown sugar sauce when making this recipe. On the stove, in a medium pot, combine:
- 2 cups of brown sugar
- ½ cup of honey
- a few dashes of salt and crushed red pepper
- 1/3 cup of pineapple sauce
Simmer over medium-low heat for 20 minutes then add this sauce to the crockpot thirty minutes before the meat is finished.
To Sear or Not to Sear?
While you don’t need to sear your pork shoulder before putting it in the crockpot, there is a benefit to adding this extra step. When you sear the pork shoulder, you create a hard crust on the outside that adds excellent flavor by keeping the juices inside the meat. Searing also helps the meat look beautiful.
Don’t Overload the Crockpot
The amount of food you can cook is directly dependent on the size of the pork shoulder and your crockpot. It’s never a good idea to overload it with too many ingredients. If you are using root vegetables such as carrots and potatoes, try to cut them as small as possible. When you overload your crockpot, everything will take longer to cook.
Wait to Add Your Herbs
If you want your meat to have maximum flavor, it is best to add fresh herbs near the end of the cooking process. When you put in the herbs too soon, the strength of their flavors fades in with the rest of the ingredients.
What if the Pork Shoulder is Frozen?
It’s possible to cook a frozen pork shoulder in a crockpot although many cooks do not recommend it. One way to cook a frozen pork shoulder is to include a few cups of warm water or stock to the crockpot and don’t preheat it before use. However, if you can do so, it’s always best to thaw the meat thoroughly before cooking.
Ways to Keep Meat Tender
Keep your meat tender by keeping the temperature between 250 and 300 degrees. The lower the temperature, the more tender your meat will be when it is cooked because slow heat makes tender meat. Another thing you want to do is add at least 2/3 cup of liquid to the crockpot.
How Much Pork Shoulder Fits in a Crockpot?
On average, a 5 to 6 lb. pork shoulder is the right size for a crockpot. If you want to cook more than this, you will need to cook one at a time. But, if your crockpot holds more than six pounds, a larger pork shoulder might work.
A delicious pork shoulder with brown sugar makes for a great weeknight meal or dinner to celebrate something significant such as a spouse’s birthday or a job promotion. With proper preparation and creativity, you will have a satisfying and memorable dinner.