You can totally follow this recipe as is, and end up with a delicious meal. I made two major changes: creating cracklings, and just not making the hot sauce (as I already had homemade hot sauce at home). The cracklings step only makes sense if A) you’re as obsessed with them as I am and b) you have like an hour to tend to the stove while you’re doing it, which many people don’t want to do when they’re making a slow cooker recipe. I work at home, so it’s easier.
Warning: this recipe involves 18 hours of crock pot time! Plus an overnight marinade! Do not decide to make it that day. Obviously the recipe says as much, but it’s a good warning as I missed it on first read and had to bump this a day in the meal plan.
Another challenge: my pork shoulder wouldn’t fit in my slow cooker and I had to basically massacre it to get it off the bone and into the crock pot. Oops? As a result the “X side up” instructions weren’t super relevant for me.
8 cloves garlic, smashed
1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly cracked pepper
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 tablespoons distilled white vinegar, divided use
1 (5- to- 6-pound) bone-in pork shoulder, preferable with fat left on
1 cup water
Combine garlic, oregano and salt using a mortar and pestle. Add vegetable oil and 2 tablespoons vinegar and thoroughly combine.
Mark pork in a crosshatch pattern 1/4″ into the meat, using a sharp knife. Rub all over with prepared paste. Place meat on a large platter. Cover and transfer to the refrigerator to marinate overnight.
Remove meat from the refrigerator and transfer to the bowl of a slow cooker, placing it fat-side up. Add water and remaining 2 tablespoons vinegar. Cover and cook on low for 18 hours, turning once.
Optional: an hour or two before the pork is done, cut the layer of fat off the meat. Render on low in a pan until pork fat becomes cracklings (45 minutes to an hour).
When meat is nicely browned and fall-apart tender, transfer to a cutting board to rest for 20 minutes. If you made the cracklins, stir them into the meat. I also then put the mixture under the broiler for a few minutes to crisp it up, since mine didn’t brown in the crock pot because it was in pieces.
This is great served with rice and beans, and also pairs well with them in a burrito the next day.