Pulled Pork Sandwiches al Fresco and a Family Celebration
I think I’ve mentioned before that my family loves to get together and celebrate. Frequently, we have nothing special to celebrate, but we just like to get together, laugh and eat good food. However, on Sunday we had many reasons to celebrate: it was the first time the whole family had been together since Christmas, my daughter had returned from 5 1/2 months in Africa; we’ve officially welcomed daughter’s boyfriend into the family, my oldest son and his girlfriend had returned from an interesting vacation to the hot midwest, my youngest son had his first accident in the car and neither people nor property (except a few cinder blocks) were hurt; Yes!Chef! was starting a new job and I had just landed a great magazine photo shoot. Yes, those were all good reasons to celebrate. But, mostly we just all wanted to get together.
Daughter and her boyfriend made stuffed mushrooms for an appetizer and they were quite good. Yes!Chef! also got a deal on Budweiser (King of Beers) for the occasion. I probably have not had a Bud for 20 years, so it was quite nostalgic and added to the festivities.
The past couple of months Yes!Chef! has been working on the deck because part of it was rotten. So, it was quite nice to be able to use it for the family summer celebration. In fact, we dragged out our dining table from inside and enjoyed the meal outside.
(The guy on the left is new to the family…daughter’s boyfriend…and is not quite used to having his picture taken so much yet. He will learn…)
Well, never mind. These two (Oldest son and his long time girlfriend) have had lots of practice and this is the best they can do.
At any rate, Yes!Chef! prepared a great meal…pulled pork, spicy cold slaw and corn on the cob with compound butter.
The secret to great tasting food is time. You should always try to find the highest quality food that you can afford, but when using cheaper cuts of meat, time is your best friend. In this case, the pork was baked in the oven for 6 hours. This can be prepared ahead of time, fortunately, and then refrigerated (pull it first.) The flavors then really have time to get to know each other. Here are the recipes based on recipes by Tyler Florence of Food Network.
- 3 tablespoons paprika
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon dry mustard
- 3 tablespoons coarse salt
- 1 (5 to 7 pound) pork roast, preferably shoulder or Boston butt
Cider Vinegar Barbecue Sauce:
- 1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
- 1 cup yellow or brown mustard
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
- 2 garlic cloves, smashed
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cayenne
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 12 hamburger buns
- 1 recipe Spicy Slaw, recipe follows
- Pickle spears
Mix the paprika, garlic power, brown sugar, dry mustard, and salt together in a small bowl. Rub the spice blend all over the pork and marinate for as long as you have time for, as little as 1 hour or up to overnight, covered, in the refrigerator.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
Put the pork in a roasting pan and bake for about 6 hours. Basically, roast the pork until it’s falling apart and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 170 degrees F.
To make the barbecue sauce: combine the vinegar, mustard, ketchup, brown sugar, garlic, salt, cayenne, and black pepper in a saucepan over medium heat. Simmer gently, stirring, for 10 minutes until the sugar dissolves.
Remove the pork roast from the oven and transfer to a large platter. Allow the meat to rest for about 10 minutes. While still warm, take 2 forks and “pull” the meat to form shreds. Using 2 forks, shred the pork by steadying the meat with 1 fork and pulling it away with the other. Put the shredded pork in a bowl. Pour 1/2 of the sauce on the shredded pork and mix well to coat.
To serve, spoon the pulled pork mixture onto the bottom 1/2 of the hamburger bun, and top with the spicy slaw. Serve with pickle spears and the remaining sauce on the side.
- 1 head green cabbage, shredded
- 2 carrots, grated
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced
- 2 green onions, chopped
- 1 red chile, sliced
- 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup Creole mustard
- 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
- 1 lemon, juiced
- Pinch sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
- Several dashes hot sauce
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Combine the cabbage, carrot, red onion, green onions, and chile in a large bowl. In another bowl, mix the mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, lemon juice, and sugar; stirring to incorporate. Pour the dressing over the cabbage mixture and toss gently to mix. Season the cole slaw with celery seed, hot sauce, salt, and pepper. Chill for 2 hours in refrigerator before serving.
Now, you need to understand that this is Pulled Pork, not barbecued pork. This pork (and you must have the sauce) is not sweet like barbecued pork. It has some sweet flavors, but it is also quite tart from the vinegar and mustard and spicy from the peppers and other hot ingredients. So, do not expect it to taste like barbecued pork. It has a much different flavor. I loved it because of the slight mustard/vinegar flavor. Adding the cool slaw to top off the sandwich is also the way to go and adds a nice, cool crunch. (Make sure you have lots of napkins on hand.) I did not have the sandwich on the hamburger buns because I am trying to cut down on processed carbs, so I just piled the slaw on top of a pile of pork with the sauce on it. But, everyone else had hamburger buns and loved it. PS the sauce on the pork is leftover slaw sauce. Worth it!
Oh! I almost forgot the recipe for the compound butter.
Mash up one stick of unsalted butter with the zest of 1 lime, the juice from half a lime, 1 1/2 tsp of salt (or more to taste) and several dashes of Sriracha sauce. Use plastic wrap to form it into a log and wrap it up. Store it in the refrig until it’s time to use. It definitely adds more zing and citrus flavors to the sweet corn. And don’t forget the pickle spears.
This meal is one of my favorites and it is really well balanced, easy to make (though you need quite a bit of time to cook the pork) and serves a crowd. Try it! You’ll like it! These people did!