HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Pulled Pork Cooking Liquid

  • g

I'm doing a pork tenderloin in a crockpot for pulled pork sandwiches. I've used root beer and coke as the liquid previously. My dining companions don't care for heavy BBQ sauce. I put it out to smear on the bun if wanted. What would you suggest for another more interesting cooking liquid? Would beer be an option?
I'm serving the sandwiches with BBQ sauce and cole slaw in toasted buns.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Beer for sure--I haven't used a crockpot, but did country pork ribs that way, low 'n slow, with a bottlabeer and a sweet onion. DO IT TO IT! :)

    1. If you use a butt instead of a tenderloin, you won't need to add any liquid.

      2 Replies
      1. re: ricepad

        Thanks, guys. I know, ricepad, I'm trying to save a few angioplasties. Kattyeyes, I wil DO IT manana.

      2. I used sweet vermouth recently with great success ....

        1. I have a pork butt in the crockpot with lime juice, garlic, chili powder, S&P. After crisping under the broiler ala carnitas, this tends to end up in tacos or burritos at my house.

          1. This pioneer woman recipe is absolutely awesome. It uses Dr Pepper and chipotles

            1. I'm interested in how it turned out. In my experience, it's not possible to do a pulled pork with a loin because there are significant differences in the muscle between a should and the loin. Specifically, the loin is much leaner, has much less collagen, and has muscle fibers that run in very long lengths down the loin. The shoulder is composed of much shorter individual muscles that contain more fat and collagen. This lends itself to "pulling" or shredding because the muscle fibers (speaking in a non-anatomy correct sense) essentially pull apart from each other after the collagen has broken down. With loin, you can't get the fibers to pull apart.

              I've cooked loins using different methods, including crock pot, and ever have I ever had a loin product have anywhere near the consistency of a traditional pulled pork using either should or leg. Can the OP expand on the cooking method, and the final consistency of the dish?

              7 Replies
              1. re: foreverhungry

                there have been some other threads addressing this and i'm in your camp. years ago, out of meat ignorance, i bought loin and tried to make pulled pork out of it. it was awful. it may absorb the flavors you've got surrounding it, but it's texturally a very different dish. long cooking just dries it out.

                to the op: i make pulled pork often and do not like sweet sauce for it. beer is great with some oj and garlic, bay and dried thyme. asian style works with soy, oyster sauce, beer or white wine some star anise and chili pepper.

                1. re: foreverhungry

                  Cook it low and slow with lots of liquid and using either a cooking bag or a pan covered with tin foil (or a crock pot) and you can "shred" loin .... Thousands of Upper Midwesterners shred/pull an entire pig every summer at a pig roast (as do Hawaiians at a Luau), so any part of the pig can be either shredded or pulled if cooked in a way to induce it.

                  1. re: hawkeyeui93

                    hawkeye - Yes, whole pigs are commonly shredded, and not just in the upper midwest and Hawaii. North Carolina often does it too. But there's a big difference between cooking a single loin slow and low, and cooking an entire pig slow and low and chopping/shredding it. One major difference is that on a typical pig carcass that's 150 pounds, total yield is about 90 pounds, and of that about 16 pounds is loin. The rest of the yield - mainly shoulder, belly, leg, and ribs - very easily pull and shred after long slow cooking because of the high collagen and fat content. In other words, less than 20% of the tougher meat gets chopped and mixed in with the more than 80% of easily shredable meat. That's a much much different product than 100% slow cooked loin.

                    Porchetta is often made with loin wrapped with belly, and is cooked slow and low, yet doesn't shred or fall apart - it stays together very well for slicing.

                    As I've said above, I've cooked loins lots of different ways, and never have gotten one close to having the same consistency as pulled pork made from shoulder or leg, and nor have I ever eaten a shredable pulled pork made from loin. On the other hand, I suppose it would be possible to cook a loin sous vide for >48 hours at about 135, so that it' doesn't overcook the muscle, yet cooks long enough to break down the collagen. But I don't think many folks have that equipment at their disposal.

                    1. re: foreverhungry

                      I don't disagree with the proposition that loin alone is a suitable substitute for shoulder or leg [in either taste or texture]. What I do not agree with is the proposition that a loin cannot be shredded if properly prepared [from a meat science standpoint].

                  2. re: foreverhungry

                    Did the loin in the crockpot on low for *about* 8 hours. The beer worked fine, but I was low on seasoning which I tried to take care of after the fact. I'll know better next time.
                    Regarding the shredding factor. I had no trouble there, it actually fell apart with little help from me. I added some BBQ sauce...we don't like a lot of it, piled it on a toasted bun and topped it with a mayo based cole slaw.
                    I realize the flavor from a butt or shoulder would have better flavor due to the fat factor. I was going for something a bit more heathly and it worked ok.

                    1. re: Gail

                      EXCELLENT--I was wondering as well as I've never done it with anything as lean as a loin. Glad to hear. What did you use for seasoning? I was very happy with Penzey’s Barbecue of the Americas and smoked paprika when I seasoned my country pork ribs.

                      1. re: Gail

                        Glad to hear that you had good results shredding it (as I knew you would). If I am cooking something lean like loin, I cover it with olive oil and add a liberal dose of my favorite spices or a glaze you really like and you will add some additional flavor to the end product while cooking low and slow.