Slow-cooker pork shoulder, from United Tastes of America

Try this tasty, child-friendly Labor Day recipe

Get that end-of-summer flavor without the leaping flames, courtesy of our kids' cookbook, United Tastes of America

Today is Labor Day, one of the key cookout dates in America — a country with a fine, varied barbecue tradition. In Delaware, for example, roadside stands sell barbecued chicken all summer long, “which vacationers buy while driving to and from the beach,” writes Gabrielle Langholtz in United Tates of America, our atlas of food facts and recipes for younger cooks. 

Meanwhile, in Alabama flame-grilled meals are dressed with a peculiar barbecue sauce, which “isn’t red or brown — it’s white!” writes Langholtz. “The simple mixture of mayonnaise, vinegar, and tons of black pepper is especially popular on chicken.”

In Memphis, people love barbecue sauce so much, they put it on on spaghetti, while further north, up in Illinois, southern cookery traditions live on. “Many African-Americans migrated from the Mississippi Delta, and brought barbecue recipes and culture with them,” explains Langholtz. “Baby back pork ribs remain a local favorite.”


Spaghetti and barbecue sauce, a Memphis favorite, from United Tastes of America
Spaghetti and barbecue sauce, a Memphis favorite, from United Tastes of America

Care to recreate some barbecue flavor this Labor Day, without all those leaping flames? Then try this pork recipe from the book’s North Carolina pages.

“While real Carolina pit masters smoke their meat over wood, this is an easy indoor version. And the rich, thick, tomato-based sauce captures the famous flavors of this state's barbecue. The sauce soaks into the smoky, succulent meat for a sweeter flavor than the tangy barbecue of eastern North Carolina. You’ll be the star of any picnic with this dish, which makes plenty to share.” Here’s how you make it.


A barbecue illustration from United Tastes of America
A barbecue illustration from United Tastes of America

Ingredients  For the sauce: 2 cups cider vinegar; ½ cup ketchup; ¼ cup packed dark brown sugar; 2 tablespoons granulated sugar; 1 tablespoon coarse salt; 1 tablespoon ground white pepper; 1 to 2 teaspoons crushed chili flakes (optional); 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the pork: 1 tablespoon coarse salt Freshly ground black pepper 5–6 pounds boneless pork shoulder, trimmed of all but ¼-inch fat (you can ask a butcher to do this for you) ½ cup chicken broth, preferably low-sodium Rolls, coleslaw, and pickles for serving 

Special equipment: slow cooker (4-quart or bigger), fine-mesh sieve

  1. Make the sauce. In a large bowl, whisk to combine vinegar, ketchup, both sugars, salt, white pepper, chili flakes, and black pepper. Measure out 1 cup and set aside, for cooking the pork. (The rest can be served with the meal, or stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.)

  2. Make the pork. Pat pork dry and sprinkle well on all sides with the salt and ground pepper to taste. Nestle the pork in the slow cooker. Add the reserved 1-cup sauce and the chicken broth to the cooker, turning pork over until it’s coated. Cover slow cooker and cook on low until pork is tender enough to pull apart with a fork, about 8 hours.

  3. Using tongs, lift the pork and transfer to a baking sheet. When it’s cool enough to handle, use 2 forks to pull pork into shreds. 

  4. Set a fine-mesh sieve over a large saucepan Strain the cooking liquid from the slow cooker into the saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil until the liquid is thickened, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the pulled pork to the saucepan and stir until heated through. Serve with rolls, coleslaw, pickles, and additional sauce, if desired.


United Tastes of America
United Tastes of America

For more great recipes and culinary facts, order a copy of United Tastes of America here.