April 25, 2012

Carolina Pulled-Pork Sandwiches

My family loves pulled-pork. Currently, my two boys are in picky eating stages, but have no problems eating multiple pulled-pork sandwiches whenever I make them. When I first married my husband I had literally had eaten pulled-pork less times than I can count on one hand. Having grown up in Seattle, pulled-pork was never something that my mom prepared and most restaurants were ethnic or seafood. I especially had no idea until I met my husband that there are completely different types of bbq based on region. He prefers vinegar based bbq sauces, while my boys prefer sweeter varieties. I will pretty much eat it all, it's delicious! Since I didn't grow up knowing how to prepare pulled-pork the first year my husband bought a shiny new charcoal grill with a side smoker (he won't touch gas grills, he can go on a 15 minute rant about why, but no one wants to hear it I promise) I was lost. Thankfully now that we have been married almost ten years I have become quite adept at both the grill and preparing pulled-pork. I love using the grill in the summer, but for most of us using a grill year round isn't an option and the oven is way too hot to turn on all day during the warmer months,  that's where the crockpot comes in handy. You can make great pulled-pork using the crockpot and it is very easy! Recently, the May issue of Family Circle Magazine had a recipe for Carolina Pulled-Pork Sandwiches, which promised to be an easy and crowd-pleasing crockpot recipe.

This recipe has 10 ingredients in the recipe (the sandwich buns and pork aren't shown in the photo) and 6 in the coleslaw (the photo was nicely deleted off my phone by my three-year-old trying to find angry birds). It takes 15 minutes of prep, 22 minutes of cooking time (to brown the pork) and 8 hours on low in the crockpot and makes 8 servings. For the pork shoulder the recipe states to remove the skin and trim the fat, I agree with this to a point. If you remove all the fat from a pork roast it leaves the meat dry during cooking time. I prefer to cook the meat with some fat and place it fat side up in the crockpot. This allows the fat to keep the meat moist and the fat can easily be removed before pulling the pork at the end. For the seasoning salt I used my husband's favorite salt, Bacon Salt. If you haven't tried bacon salt, it really does create a nice almost smoky flavor in recipes. I use it very frequently, since as you know if you read my blog, my house is pretty obsessed with bacon. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

As I stated at the beginning we eat a lot of pulled pork. That also makes my family pretty picky pulled-pork consumers. Both my husband and I thought that the bbq sauce was a little too mild. I make a lot of pulled-pork in the crockpot and almost every recipe places the sauce in at the end. Since this bbq sauce is vinegar based putting the sauce in at the beginning of the cooking time made the sauce taste too unflavorful after eight hours. Instead of following the directions as stated I would suggest putting in a small amount of the sauce, maybe a 1/4 of a cup with a little bit of water (maybe 1/2 cup) to keep the pork moist during cooking. Then after the pork is pulled add the additional sauce to the crockpot and allow it to cook for an another 15 minutes or so. I think the problem was that the fat from the pork runs into the sauce making it too watered down. Removing the fat would make the pork tough, so the modifications would be a better alternative. On the other hand if your family prefers a mild bbq sauce this would be perfect as is. My father-in-law likes milder sauces and he would have thoroughly enjoyed this as written. Finally, I did think that the leftovers worked well when re-heated with additional bbq sauce, it was much better the next day. So if you like mild sauce this is perfect, if you like bolder flavored bbq sauce I recommend adding the additional sauce at the end.

For the recipe go to Carolina Pulled-Pork Sandwiches.
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