For the actual day of the Chicago Air and Water Show, our rooftop can get pretty crowded. This means that getting time on the communal grills can be annoying. So since it was just my wife and I for the Saturday of the Air and Water Show, I thought we would skip the grill line altogether and slow cook something. I wanted a pork shoulder, but I couldn’t find one at Trader Joe’s or the local independent grocery store in my neighborhood. So I went with Country Style Ribs, which are literally the next best thing.
Country Style Rib Sliders:
When you are talking about pulled pork, you’re usually talking about the front shoulders of the pig, which is an area more commonly known as Boston Butt. Adjacent to – or on top of – that cut is the shoulder blade, which is where the country style rib comes from. So the country style rib is not really a rib at all. The bone that you would find in that area, if you do find a bone in the cut you buy, is actually the scapula (the shoulder blade). Then, if you move further down the pig, you’ll get to the loin area, which is where pork chops are cut from (according to this chart I found on the internet).
Because this cut is pretty much in between the pork shoulder (which is fatty and full of collagen) and the loin (which is lean), the country style rib is a wonderful mix of fatty and lean. I’ve read around that you can cook it quickly, like a pork chop, but when I look at it, I really think it demands to be slow cooked.
1. chop it: I very very roughly chopped half an onion (I also added about a quarter of a red onion I had left in the fridge). I finely chopped four stalks of celery. I then put about half a package of baby carrots into the crock pot too. Usually, I’ll buy a bunch of carrots, peel, and then chop those for a crock pot roast, as that is more cost effective. But I was going for convenience. I needed to get this stuff all into the crock pot quickly so that it would be done in time for lunch. So I was doing this all at about 7:00 in the morning on a Saturday, which apparently is no longer an hour that sounds early to those of my friends who have young children.
2. top it: I cut the country style ribs open and dropped them on top. Top that with a couple of heavy dashes of your favorite barbecue rub. I use Famous Dave’s Rib Rub.
3. water it: I added just enough water to cover the vegetables, but not enough to cover the pork.
4. cook it: turn the crock pot on high for about an hour, then turn it down to low. After the second hour, I flipped the pork over. Then, I let it cook for another two hours or so. In total, I think I let this cook for about five hours.
5. pull it: remove the pork into a bowl and the pull it. You can use two forks to do this, as they do on TV. But I use tongs and twist. It seems to do the job much faster.
6. dress it: once the pork was pulled, I added about a ladle full of the crock pot cooking liquid and about a quarter cup of barbecue sauce. I use Famous Dave’s Barbecue Sauce. It goes particularly well with pork.
7. fill it: cut open your slider rolls and put some of the pork inside. I topped mine with a couple of dill pickle slices because pickles and barbecue sauce are good friends. My wife prefers hers without the pickles in the sandwich but wants sweet pickles on the side. I think it’s an Iowa thing.
It turned out that it rained like crazy on the Saturday of the Air and Water Show Weekend, so we ended up eating this lunch inside at home. With some salt and vinegar chips and some extra carrots on the side, it made for a particularly nice meal. The sweetness of the barbecue sauce was cut by mixing it with the pork infused cooking liquid, which made for a nice and savory sauce. Contrasting that with the sour of the pickles and the chips made for really good taste, temperature, and texture contrasts.
And the meat, well, it was quite fantastic. It had the wonderful texture of pulled pork, as it did shred quite nicely. Plus, it had an extra meatiness to it. I think that came from the fact that the country style rib is close to the loin.
Although I think a Boston Butt would be better in a smoker, and even though a loin is better cut into chops and cooked quickly on the grill, I am beginning to think that the country style rib is the better cut to choose if your vessel of choice is the crock pot.