With each month of paleo eating comes new discoveries, both culinary and personal. I’m proud to say that I’ve recently entered the I Can’t Believe I Was Ever Vegetarian Stage, in which my pre-paleo health food conscience is finally shutting up and I’m rediscovering the unbelievable deliciousness of big hunks of juicy, fatty meat.
It took me a while to get to this point. Like many paleo noobs, it was difficult for me to shake the fat phobia that had become so deeply engrained in my psyche. As I’ve mentioned before, low-fat, plant-based eating is so often praised in our culture as the “healthy option,” so convincing myself that that’s not the case for my body took time.
As much as I could feel my paleo idols like Liz Wolfe and Sarah Ballantyne face-palming behind my back, I couldn’t help but skim and trim. My first few weeks of paleo meals consisted mostly of stews and curries made with chicken or fairly lean stew meat and cooked in broth. They were totally paleo, but they tended to be heavy on the veggies and low on the fat because that’s the way I’d gotten used to cooking.
It didn’t take long for me to realized that those stews weren’t giving me enough fuel. The thing is, the paleo framework isn’t very sustainable if all you do is make grain-free vegetarian meals with a little lean meat thrown in. I had to learn to replace the calories I was getting from legumes and grains with another sustainable fuel source (i.e. good quality fat) if I wanted to stay satiated throughout the day.
After a few weeks of trial and error, I got to the point where I’d finally cooked enough disappointingly flimsy paleo meals to realize what it would take. I started incorporating fat more freely and actually seeking it out, both in my recipes and in the proteins I chose. For so long, big, rich cuts of meat had been the double whammy of off-limits for me: fatty AND…the opposite of plant-based. So they took the longest for me to embrace. But man, now that I have, I truly can’t imagine a meal (or a life) without meat.
Today I’m excited to share with you the recipe that made me turn the corner. After tasting this pulled pork, I knew without a doubt that I would never, ever again cut meat out of my diet. And if we can afford to support sustainable, ethical producers, there’s no reason we should.
In addition to the insane flavor, this recipe has the added perk of making you look like a culinary god when you pull it out of the slow cooker. It requires literally nothing but meat and seasonings — not even any liquid! Little do your meat-fearing friends know that all you had to do to create this masterpiece was press a button and wait for 10 hours.
- 5-7 lb. bone-in pork shoulder
- 1½ Tbsp cumin
- 1 Tbsp smoked paprika or chipotle powder
- ½ Tbsp chili powder
- 2 tsp coriander
- 2 tsp cayenne
- 1½ Tbsp Kosher salt
- ½ Tbsp ground black pepper
- 2-3 Tbsp olive oil
- Mix dry rub seasonings together in a large mixing bowl.
- Place pork shoulder inside mixing bowl and thoroughly coat with the dry rub. Get those fingers dirty!
- Place the seasoned meat inside a large zip-top plastic bag and drizzle in the olive oil. Make sure the bag is securely closed and do your best to massage the seasonings and oil all over. Allow to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours. (I left mine in overnight.)
- Once marinated, remove pork from the bag and place it inside your slow cooker, fatty side up. Cook on low for 8-10 hours. You'll know it's done when it falls to pieces with the flick of a fork. (Don’t worry too much about overcooking it. Mine stayed in for almost 12 hours and it was totally fine.)
- Once cooked, turn off slow cooker and allow pork to cool for at least 30 minutes. Then, shred the meat using two forks, mixing it with the residual cooking liquid as you go. Discard the bone (or save it for stock!).
- Serve warm alongside a root vegetable puree, or use in my Pulled Pork and Parsnip Hash recipe!