Slow Cooker Saturdays: Crockpot Pulled Pork Sandwiches (With Sunflower Slaw)

Crockpot Pulled Pork

I'll be the first to admit that I usually turn to my crockpot on days when I just don't have time to cook. It's so nice to get up in the morning, prepare food for the crockpot, turn it on, and go do whatever else it is that's keeping me from the kitchen that day. And the one thing I always keep in the freezer - crockpot ready, you might say - is country-style pork ribs. They're thicker and more fatty than spareribs or babybacks, which makes them perfect for the crockpot. They're also harder to eat with your fingers, which makes them perfect for shredding and plopping on toasted bread. (But if you feel the need to use your fingers that's okay; and rest assured that a little finger-licking is always encouraged when it comes to a barbecue dinner.)

In North Carolina, the self-professed barbecue capital of the U.S., we eat slaw on our barbecue sandwiches. (Unless you're my husband who kind of just refuses to touch the stuff.) In Western N.C. you'll find red barbecue slaw, which has ketchup in it. (Suffice it to say it's not my favorite thing in the world.) Down East you'll be served white slaw, which is cool and creamy and pairs wonderfully with their vinegar-based 'cue. In my house, however, we like to break the rules and go for something a little Asian-influenced because it goes great with sweet barbecue-sauced pork. (And come on, breaking the rules is a given. I'm already cooking my pork in a slow cooker instead of over a hickory fire. But y'all know I'm a rebel like that.)

I love crockpot days. It's so nice to have a flavorful, satisfying meal that didn't take a lot of effort. And I highly recommend cooking pork in the slow cooker because its texture holds up well to long, slow cooking. This meal is definitely a keeper.

Sunflower Slaw

Crockpot Country-Style Pork Ribs
Recipe adapted from
Printer-friendly recipe

3 to 4 pounds country-style pork ribs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 to 3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup apple juice
2 cups of your favorite barbecue sauce

1. Spray inside of crockpot.
2. Rinse pork ribs and pat dry. Trim off extra fat if desired.
3. Mix salt, pepper, sugar and garlic. Dip ribs in mixture and turn to coat.
4. Place onion slices in bottom of crockpot. Place ribs on top of onions and pour apple juice evenly over ribs. Cook on low 8 to 9 hours.
5. Remove ribs and pour out onions and liquid. Return ribs to crockpot and cover with barbecue sauce. Cook on low another hour. When finished cooking, remove ribs and shred them with forks. Serve on hot, buttered buns and top with slaw (or serve it on the side).

Sunflower Slaw
Adapted from Apartment Therapy: The Kitchn
Printer-friendly recipe

In general, slaw recipes are very forgiving. If you're unsure about the amount of an ingredient, start with less and add more to taste. Simply remember the old adage: It's easier to add to than it is to take away.

Medium head of cabbage
One bunch green onions, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (or other flavorless oil)
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon white sugar
Sesame oil (to taste)
Soy sauce (to taste)
1/4 cup sunflower seeds

1. Shred cabbage and toss with green onions.
2. Mix all wet ingredients and whisk until emulsified.
3. Toss with cabbage and add sunflower seeds. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve.