Some of you from the Southeast may recognize this slogan as the jingle for Sonny's Real Pit B-B-Q. Sonny's is the only B-B-Q restaurant I ever went to on a semi-regular basis when I lived in Florida. You really need to be in a particular mood to go there. While the slogan says, "We're gonna make you feel good", what it really means is "It's going to taste really good, but you will be sorry later thankyouverymuchXOXO". I would always order the pulled pork sandwich which is served with crinkle cut fries (my favorite).
I cannot say for sure since I was never really diligent about exploring the BBQ world in Florida (it was just easy to hit up Sonny's for a BBQ fix), but I don't remember there being a lot of options for great BBQ joints in either Tampa or Gainesville. Sonny's pulled pork was my introduction to pork and the only relationship I had with it until I moved to Los Angeles.
When you move to a new place or even go on a long vacation, there are restaurants and even little local shops you miss from the town you are leaving. Sonny's was towards the top of my list of places I missed being able to go when I moved out of Florida about two years ago. Other things I still miss include Moe's, Publix, Flacos's (in Gainesville), sweet tea and Carrabbas. But life goes on. When holes are left in our hearts, we try to fill them by finding things to take up the empty space. This natural process prompted my search for Los Angeles BBQ joints in need a rebound. I was skeptical, but hopeful, hopeful because Los Angeles has a little bit of everything and skeptical because, well, it is Los Angeles...not exactly the kind of place I would expect people to be patient enough to cook meat for long periods of time since our patience is pretty much spent on others activities. CanIgetanAMEN?. We may not have the very best of everything as far as food is concerned, but we come pretty close. I found we come dangerously close to the best (certainly the best I have ever encountered) in BBQ with places like Dr. Hogly Wogly's Tyler Texas BBQ and Kansas City BBQ. With the discovery of these restaurants (among others) and the following recipe, the empty space in my heart where Sonny's used to be has been filled and then some. I guess in that sense they really have made me feel good.
Fell Good Pulled Pork (from the "Better Homes Cookbook")
1 2-3 pound pork sirloin roast
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp cooking oil
2 medium onions (cut into thin wedges)
4 C root beer (do not use diet root beer)
2 tbsp minced garlic
1 C chili sauce
1/4 tsp rot beer concentrate (optional, found in the spice section at the grocery store)
Trim fat from meat, and sprinkle it with salt and pepper. Be sure the meat will fit into your slow cooker; you may need to cut it into two chunks.
Heat cooking oil in a large pan and brown the meat by searing quickly (about 30 seconds on each side). This will work to retain the juices inside the meat in the slow cooker by sort of sealing up the outsides.
Transfer meat to a slow cooker, add onions, 1 cup of the root beer, and garlic; cook on a low setting for 8-10 hours or on a high setting for 4-5 hours.
For the sauce:
In a medium saucepan, combine 3 cups of root beer and the chili sauce. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat.
Boil gently, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes (or until mixture has reduced to 2 cups).
Add root beer concentrate (optional) to the pan and remove from heat.
When the pork is finished cooking, simply pull apart and shred it using two forks. It should be very tender and easily fall apart. At this point you can do one of several things, depending on how you would like to eat it. My favorites include in a sandwich or with black beans and brown rice. If you eat the pork in a sandwich, I suggest smothering it in the root beer chili sauce and putting a pile of it on a toasted hamburger bun. If you would like to prepare it with black beans and brown rice (as pictured above, I would use the sauce to taste (probably not as much as you would use in the sandwich). You can eat it for dinner one way and then the leftovers a few days later another way.