Pulled pork is one of my favorite meals, in part because it's delicious and in part because I can throw the pork into my slow cooker in the morning and by the time I get home that evening, it's ready. Ahhh. I do reserve it as an "occasional" food because the cut of pork is so high in fat, but I make myself feel a bit better by trimming away as much of the surface fat as possible. I love this recipe for pulled pork sandwiches from Tyler Florence at foodnetwork.com--I modify it by cooking it in a slow cooker and cutting way back on the salt. The cider-vinegar barbecue sauce recipe makes a ton, so I halved it and still ended up with a leftover jar to store in my freezer for next time. I used a 2 1/2-pound boneless pork shoulder, which made enough for four sandwiches with leftover pork for tomorrow's dinner.
I usually serve cole slaw to pile on top of the sandwiches, but I felt like something different tonight. I made this kale slaw from marthastewart.com--it was good ("better than I expected" was the review from my husband), but, as much as I love kale, raw is not my favorite preparation. The same dressing would have been tasty on shredded cabbage for a more traditional slaw. I used honey-roasted peanuts instead of salted because that's what I had on hand, so I cut back on the brown sugar. I also omitted the bell pepper. I served a little beet-rosemary relish on the side, which added even more delicious tanginess to the sandwiches.
Pulled Pork Sandwiches
1 1/2 tablespoons smoked paprika
1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1 2- to 3-pound boneless pork roast, preferably shoulder or Boston butt, surface fat trimmed
Cider-Vinegar Barbecue Sauce:
3/4 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup yellow or brown mustard
1/4 cup ketchup
3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 garlic clove, smashed
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pan drippings from the pork
6 whole wheat hamburger buns
Combine the paprika, garlic power, brown sugar, dry mustard, and salt in a small bowl. Rub the spice blend all over the pork. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to overnight.
Place pork and 1/2 cup water into a slow cooker. Cook pork on low heat for about 8 hours or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the pork reads 170°F and the pork is falling apart.
While the pork is roasting, 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. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Transfer the pork from the slow cooker to a large bowl, and allow the meat to rest for 10 minutes. Pour the juices from the slow cooker into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat slightly, and simmer until juices are reduced by about half. Pour into the saucepan with the barbecue sauce and simmer 5 minutes.
While the pork is still warm, "pull" the meat: Using 2 forks, shred the meat into small pieces. Pour half of the sauce over the pork and stir well to coat.
To serve, spoon the pulled pork mixture onto the bottom half of each hamburger bun. Top pork with kale slaw (recipe follows) or your favorite cole slaw. Serve with the remaining sauce on the side.
Makes 6 servings.
1 large bunch kale, center ribs discarded, very thinly sliced crosswise (about 8 cups)
2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced crosswise
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup honey-roasted peanuts, divided
1/2 tablespoon packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
Toss kale and carrots in a large bowl. Puree oil, cider vinegar, 1/4 cup peanuts, brown sugar, and salt in a blender until smooth. Pour dressing over vegetables just before serving. Coarsely chop the remaining 1/4 cup peanuts and sprinkle over the slaw.
Makes 8 servings.