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Poppa's Pulled Pork

May 16, 2024

20240512-PoppasPulledPork-00981-webAs the weather cools and cozy evenings become the norm, there’s nothing better than cranking up the heat and treating yourself to heartwarming comfort food. If you're craving a winter recipe that'll warm you from the inside out, look no further than Brent's irresistible slow-cooked pulled pork. Its smoky, aromatic scent often wafts from Brent’s apartment at Ryman’s Kevin Hickman Village, tempting taste buds and stirring appetites. With its tender meat and velvety sauce, this dish is every bit as delicious as it sounds – you’ll be reaching for seconds, thirds, and maybe even fourths!

Spontaneous experiment to signature dish

But let's rewind. How did this mouthwatering creation come to be? Well, according to Brent, it all started with a spontaneous decision. "I decided I would throw some stuff in a crockpot, and it transpired from that," he chuckles. Little did he know that this experiment would evolve into his signature dish, enjoyed for over 15 years, and affectionately dubbed ‘Poppa's Pulled Pork’ by his grandchildren.

It might be Poppa’s dish, but Brent is quick to share the spotlight, acknowledging his wife Karen as the true master chef. "She does all of the hard work and preparation," he confesses. “While I throw on my manly pinny, step in, and take all the accolades,” he says with a cheeky smile. Brent tends to the final stages of cooking while Karen is the unsung hero, buying and prepping the ingredients. “I prefer following recipes, whereas Brent is great at going ‘off-piste’ and creating the best flavour combinations,” explains Karen. Their teamwork plays to each other’s strengths, resulting in their family’s favourite meal. 

Grandkid approved cuisine

With 11 grandchildren keeping them on their toes, the couple’s apartment is often buzzing with activity. "We need a spreadsheet to keep track of all the birthdays," Brent jests, a nod to the lively chaos that fills their lives. Their apartment, carefully chosen for its convenient location and size, is the perfect backdrop for entertaining. The out-of-town relatives come and stay and there’s plenty of room for dinner parties. With the new village café on the horizon – just, "12 steps from their doorstep," as Brent eagerly points out – there's even more to look forward to and ways to spoil guests.

As for the grandkids, they're not exactly kitchen helpers. They prefer to be, "Connoisseurs at the end of the production line," as Brent puts it. And judging by granddaughter Eden's enthusiastic review – "Poppa’s Pulled Pork is so yummy, better than Gordon Ramsay!" – they've got the right idea.

Entertaining made easy

Hosting family for a meal is easy with a recipe tailored for busy schedules. “You can make it, walk out the door and then come back eight hours later,” Brent explains. When you return, “The house smells absolutely gorgeous,” he smiles. It's a win-win, giving Brent time for coffee catchups with mates and Karen the chance to enjoy her daily walks and exercise classes. Brent refers to it as a ‘flexible’ recipe that can’t go wrong. “You can be a terrible cook and still make something really tasty,” he laughs.  

So, if you're after the ultimate winter warmer, a dish that's equal parts easy and delicious, look no further than, “Poppa’s Pulled Pork”. It's more than just a meal; it's a celebration of spontaneity, teamwork, and the joy of sharing good food with even better company.



Poppa’s Pulled Pork

Serves 8



  • 2kg pork shoulder (fat around the outside not over top)
  • 3 large onions
  • 6 large garlic cloves
  • 3 large Granny Smith apples
  • 1L Old Mout apple cider (or equivalent)
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar or honey
  • 1 tsp each of as many spices as you see fit to add – chilli, cinnamon, Chinese five spice, star anise, mustard powder, smoked paprika, coriander, garlic salt and anything else you fancy
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/3 cake of Whittaker’s 100g 92% dark chocolate
  • 1 tbsp BBQ sauce
  • ½ cup red wine


  • Peel, core and halve the apples, then place them face down in a slow cooker.
  • Finely dice the onions and garlic and sprinkle around the apples.
  • Rest pork on top.
  • Add the spices, covering the meat.
  • Pour over 1L of cider.
  • Put the lid on the slow cooker and cook for 8 hours on low.
  • Carefully remove the pork and remove any bone. Then strip and discard the fat around the side.
  • Loosely strain the fluid into a large, flat, fry pan, leaving the apple remains in the slow cooker.
  • Pull the pork apart with forks, then return the shredded pork to the slow cooker and mix well with the apple remains. NOTE: Leave the slow cooker on low.
  • To the strained fluid, add BBQ and soy sauce, dark chocolate, sugar/honey, red wine, and anything else you fancy.
  • Continuously boil the strained fluid in a large fry pan until reduced about 50% and well thickened to the point of “bubbling” rather than a rolling boil (usually takes about an hour). Judge this for yourself, you want a nice thick gravy.
  • Pour the reduced gravy back in the slow cooker, mix with the pork and apple and serve with ciabatta rolls and coleslaw.

If you would like to learn more about our Ryman villages, or find one near you click here