365 Days of Slow Cooking: Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Paninis with Caramelized Onions and Homemade BBQ Sauce
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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Paninis with Caramelized Onions and Homemade BBQ Sauce

Today we have an awesome guest post from my friend, Jaymee.  She recently started a beautiful food blog called E is for Eat.  She is cooking up a storm and has a wide variety of recipes.  Check it out!  This recipe looks absolutely amazing.  Thanks, Jaymee!  (If you'd like to do a guest post for my blog, please contact me)

I'm delighted to share a recipe on 365 Days of Slow Cooking. Karen and I go all the way back to high school!  I recently started a food blog called E is for Eat where I post recipes and restaurant reviews while following the letters of the alphabet. This post is coincides with "P" week.

Pulled Pork Paninis with Caramelized Onions & Homemade BBQ Sauce

Makes 4-6 servings

2-3 pounds boneless pork shoulder (pork butt)
1/2 to 3/4 cup of dry spice rub, recipe follows
4 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
2 large onions, sliced
1/4 cup water or apple juice
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
1 1/2 cups BBQ sauce, recipe follows
1 tablespoon olive oil
Sourdough bread, sliced (I used whole wheat sourdough)
Sharp cheddar cheese, sliced (I used a light white cheddar)
Butter or olive oil

1. Coat pork pieces on all sides with dry rub and massage into the meat. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least an hour or overnight.

2. Lay one of the sliced onion and the smashed garlic cloves on bottom of slow cooker. Mix apple juice (or water) with liquid smoke and add to slow cooker. Place pork on top of everything. Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours, or until pork is very tender.

3. Transfer pork to bowl or baking sheet with rimmed edges. Discard cooking liquid and onions. Using two forks, shred pork and return to slow cooker (discard fat). Pour BBQ sauce over the top and mix thoroughly. Cook on high for 30 minutes. Add any additional seasonings to adjust to your taste.

4. While pork is cooking the final 30 minutes, caramelize the onions. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat, and add sliced onions. Cook until brown and caramelized, about 25-30 minutes.

5. When ready to make your paninis, butter the outside of the bread (or brush with olive oil) and pile pork, some caramelized onions, and a slice (or two!) of sharp cheddar cheese. Grill until brown and toasty...serve hot! (Note: I used a panini maker, but you could also do them like you do grilled cheese or a George Foreman).

I may be biased, but this is without a doubt a five star recipe in my book. The BBQ sauce might look like a lot of ingredients, but once you have them on hand, it's so easy to make your own sauce and control the flavors, and SO worth it. (I also use the sauce as a base for my slow cooker BBQ baked beans.) However, you can totally substitute your favorite bottled BBQ sauce and use a store bought rub and it will still turn out awesome!

For the rub:
1/4 cup paprika
3 tablespoons packed brown sugar or muscovado
2 tablespoons Kosher salt
1.5 tablespoons coarse ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chile powder
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder

Mix together all ingredients in a medium bowl (could also use chopper attachment of immersion blender). Store in an airtight container up to three months. (Note: adjust the types and amounts of seasoning to your liking or to what you have on hand, just don't leave out the paprika, sugar, salt, or pepper. (This might seem like a lot of intense flavors, but they will mellow a lot in the cooking process).

For the BBQ sauce:
1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar or muscovado
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon molasses
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
2 cloves garlic, smashed and finely minced
2 teaspoons dry yellow mustard
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt (such as Lawry's or a homemade blend)
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne (optional)
1/8 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)

Mix together all ingredients in a medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. (If using the BBQ sauce outside of this recipe, you'll want to simmer on the stove for 10-15 minutes, but here you don't need to because it will cook in the slow cooker).


  1. Thanks again Karen for inviting me to guest post!