Tender pulled pork gets an Italian twist with a roasted garlic rub and a balsamic barbecue sauce. This Italian style pulled pork is very versatile – serve it over polenta, on a roll, over pasta, or just eat it by the spoonful!
Happy Monday! Have you adjusted to the time change? Are you dragging today? Or, are you like me and bouncing around with a smile on your face?
I actually always adjust well – I was wide awake before 6am today, even though it’s a dreary, rainy day here. Although that may be due to excitement – my shower is Saturday, my wedding is 60 days away, and WE BOUGHT A HOUSE! ?????
I have been holding that in for weeks now! It became official on Friday, but I didn’t want to jinx it by talking about it any earlier. I can’t even begin to express how blessed and happy I am. We aren’t officially moved in yet, but we spent the weekend cleaning, painting, installing a mailbox, and waiting for appliance deliveries.
Have I ever mentioned how much I love appliances?
The house is about an hour south of where we live now, closer to Kyle’s job, and an absolute beauty. It’s new construction, which is awesome, but it also means a lot of work. We have to put up blinds, add things like towel bars, a mantel on the fireplace, and some other little things.
For the last two years we have been living in an apartment, which is just not for me. I grew up in the country and honestly you couldn’t pay me to live in a city for the rest of my life. We aren’t right in the city now by any means, but it’s close enough. Our new house is much more country-like living and that makes me very happy. There is nothing better than having the window open at night and hearing nothing at all. Or, waking up in the morning to birds chirping. It’s the little things…
Needless to say, we have a lot to keep us busy over the next couple of months! I should also mention that I may not be as consistent with my posts/comments. I have a few posts ready for the next two weeks while I’m packing/moving. Not to mention getting ready for the wedding. So much happening all at once!
Ok, let’s talk about pulled pork!
There’s a lot of steps to this recipe, but they are all easy and just require a little planning ahead. First up is the brine, which is just tweaked slightly to be Italian-style. Then, we have the roasted garlic rub. ? SO GOOD.
Once your brined pork is covered in the rub, you’ll pop it into the slow cooker and forget about it for 8-10 hours. You definitely won’t forget about it, though! It makes your house smell heavenly. While the pork is cooking I like to make a basil-balsamic barbecue sauce. Basically, just throw the ingredients into a pot and let it cook down to the consistency of barbecue sauce – easy peasy. It won’t seem like much sauce, but a little goes a long way since it’s such a concentrated flavor.
I served mine over creamy parmesan polenta (recipe coming on Thursday), but you can serve this a number of different ways. On a roll, over pasta, an Italian-style taco, a quesadilla, etc. Kyle deemed this meal in his “Top 10”. It used to be a top 5, but it has expanded to a top 10!
If you love pulled pork and you love Italian food, this will be right up your alley. It has such a unique flavor profile and is super tasty. The leftovers last for days and can even be frozen! Ours didn’t last very long at all, though!
Have a fabulous week, friends!
- 3-4 lb. Pork Shoulder or Butt
- 6 Cups Cold Water
- ¼ Cup Red Wine Vinegar
- ¼ Cup Kosher Salt
- ¼ Cup Brown Sugar
- 2 Bay Leaves
- Handful of Fresh Basil Leaves, torn into pieces
- 2 Heads Garlic, tops sliced to expose the gloves for roasting
- Salt & Pepper
- Olive Oil, for drizzling
- 2 Teaspoons Kosher Salt
- 2 Teaspoons Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- 2 Teaspoons Dried Oregano
- 1 Lemon, zested and juiced
- 1 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon Tomato Paste
- 2 Teaspoons Dijon Mustard
- 2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
- Salt & Pepper
- ½ Cup Fresh Basil, finely chopped
- Place the pork in a 2-gallon ziptop bag. In a large pitcher, mix together all of the brine ingredients until the salt and sugar and mostly dissolved. Pour the mixture over the pork and seal the bag. I like to double bag it and keep it upright in the fridge, just in case! Allow the pork to brine overnight, or up to 24 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 375º. Season the garlic heads with salt and pepper and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Wrap the garlic in foil and place on a small baking sheet. Roast the garlic for 45-50 minutes, or until soft and very fragrant. Let cool until you can touch them.
- Squeeze the roasted garlic heads into a mini food processor, being careful to not get any skins in there. Add in the spices, lemon zest, and juice. Process until well combined.
- Remove the pork from the brine and pat it dry. Rub the pork all over with the roasted garlic mixture. Place the pork in your slow cooker and turn to low. Allow the pork to cook for 8-10 hours, or until it begins to fall apart and shreds very easily with a fork.
- While the pork is cooking, combine the balsamic vinegar, tomato paste, Dijon mustard, brown sugar, salt, and pepper in a small pot. Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking to combine the ingredients. Turn the heat to low and allow the barbecue sauce to simmer for about 30 minutes, or until it’s thickened. If it becomes too thick, just add water to reach your desired consistency. Stir the in basil and set the sauce aside.
- When your pork is done, remove it from the slow cooker to a large bowl. Using two forks, begin pulling the pork apart. You’ll have quite a bit of juice leftover in the slow cooker – I like to pour some into the pork to keep it extra juicy. Mix in about half of the balsamic barbecue sauce – you won’t end up with much of the barbecue sauce, but a little goes a long way! Serve the pork over polenta, on a roll, over pasta, etc. with the remaining barbecue sauce on the side.