I have to say, I’m a Kansas City girl at heart. So if there’s one thing that gets my heart beating a little bit faster, it’s good quality barbecue. You see, barbecue is such a part of my city that our soccer team even has a chant that revolves around barbecue. It’s a staple here in KC. You know what else is a staple? Louisburg Apple Cider. Ask anyone who knows what they’re talking about, and they’ll say that, when it comes time for cooler weather, you can’t beat hot apple cider doughnuts and a cup of warm Louisburg apple cider. I had to combine the best of both worlds and create a delicious applewood-style slow cooked pulled pork. And what does that need? Apple Cider Barbecue Sauce.
To start, you’ll need the ingredients pictured above: apple cider (shaken!), brown sugar, ketchup, red wine vinegar, worcestershire sauce, paprika, ground mustard, ground cinnamon, salt, and pepper.
In a saucepan over medium heat, you’ll combine 1 cup packed brown sugar, 1 1/4 cups Ketchup (you can use homemade ketchup in this recipe, also!), 1/2 cup red wine vinegar, 1 cup of apple cider (be sure to shake it first!), 1 Tablespoon worcestershire sauce, 2 1/2 teaspoons of ground mustard, 2 teaspoons of paprika, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1 1/2 teaspoons of sea salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper.
You’ll want it nice and smooth, making sure you stir near-constantly. Keep an eye on where the top of the mixture is in your saucepan, as you’re looking to reduce it to about half of the original mixture as it thickens.
Bring the mixture to a simmer slowly, then continuously stir until it’s thickened to the consistency of your favorite barbecue sauce.
While this is simmering, warm mason jars in a bath of hot water. This makes just over 1 pint of barbecue sauce. Once thickened, cool for about 10 minutes before pouring into a warmed jar. This is not the process for canning the sauce, mind you, but just a good way to store it in the refrigerator. You can follow traditional canning methods with this sauce if you choose to.
Now THAT’S a yummy-looking sauce. This sauce is going to be sweet, tangy, like a honey barbecue sauce but even better. With a hint of cinnamon, it’s perfect for your fall barbecue parties. I like to make my sauce about a day ahead of when I plan to use it so the flavors get fully integrated, but you don’t have to do that– it tastes great same-day, also!
Now, let’s put this barbecue sauce to good use! Start by slicing an onion and two apples (I used one red and one green) into thin slices. Layer half of the onion and half of the apple slices in the bottom of a slow cooker. Place a medium pork roast on top (shoulder and butt shred the best, but you can use any pork roast that you have on hand). Rub the meat with rosemary and sea salt, then layer the remaining onions and apple slices on. Put one cinnamon stick in the slow cooker, and finish by pouring 1 cup of apple cider over the top of the pork gently (make sure you shake the cider first!)
You’ll want to lid the pork and let it cook for 3-5 hours on high, 6-8 hours on low. You can optionally turn the pork over halfway through in the cooking process, but if you’re away at work while this is cooking, it’s fine– it will still cook normally.
About 20 minutes before I serve this, I like to go ahead and shred/cut the pork and place it back in the slow cooker so every piece can absorb the juices, but you can carve it while you serve. Be sure to discard the apple slices when serving.
One great side for this dish is a nice dish of baked apples. They’re so easy to make, and if you’ve already got apples on hand, they’re perfect. Start by layering sliced apples with cinnamon and brown sugar (about 1/4 C sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon for each half apple). Place pats of butter between each layer, as well.
Add nuts if you like (walnuts are delicious in this!) and pour half a cup of apple cider over the top of the apples. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until the apples are nice and tender.
Who doesn’t love baked apples?
When you serve your baked apples and delicious applewood style pulled pork, be sure to slather a generous helping of that apple cider barbecue sauce on top!
You’re really going to love the result of this recipe, and it’s so quick and easy to make– even the sauce!
But that’s not entirely all that I have for you… let’s just say you’re really going to want to subscribe to my newsletter over in the sidebar, because this week, subscribers will get an alternate version of this recipe– root beer barbecue sauce (my personal favorite!), a delicious root beer pulled pork, and finally, a really amazing gravy for mashed potatoes that utilizes those yummy root beer pulled pork drippings. You will NOT want to miss those printable recipe cards, so make sure you subscribe! (My newsletter only goes out once a week, and not only does it keep you up-to-date with all of my latest content, but also gives you inspiration, advice, and thoughts from around the web).
If you’re a really big fan of slow cooker meals, don’t forget that I have a giveaway going on right now with Crystal Farms where you could win a programmable slow cooker of your very own! Hop on over to that post to enter! Also, don’t forget that if you live in the Kansas City area, the Louisburg Cider Mill has an awesome pumpkin patch the whole family will love!