Pulled Pork

Anyone who has purchased pork (one-half pig or more) in quantity knows that is a lot of meat. You have roasts, chops, steaks, hams, bacon and possibly side pork. And maybe even some ground pork to make  your own sausage.

We’ll be buying some pork next month from friend and co-worker Eric Hylden’s cousin, who raises the pigs near Park River, N.D. It’s a deal we can’t refuse.

So, I’m on the hunt for more pork recipes to add to my already bulging recipe collection. Of course, some of the pork will be featured in meals with homemade sauerkraut, one of my favorite combos. Perhaps, a ham will be saved for the Christmas holidays. And the bacon will come in handy for BLTs. (Hopefully, we’ll still have some tomatoes left  from the garden.)

But another use for the meat that I’m anticipating is pulled pork. It’s the perfect fare fall events such as football games and hunting trips.

I just came across the following recipe from one of my favorite food blogs, Everyday Gourmet (http://everydaygourmet.areavoices.com/). It’s written by  Jessica Karley, an executive chef at UND. I’m going to share that here, along with another one from a friend, Doris Bornhoeft.

Jessica Karley’s Bourbon Honey Mustard Pulled Pork
1 large yellow onion, thin sliced
2 ribs of celery, not chopped.
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon cracked black pepper
1 4-pound boneless pork shoulder (or butt)
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons crushed garlic
½ cup applesauce
1 cup honey Dijon (mustard) dressing
2 tablespoons molasses
¼ cup bourbon (optional)
1 cup honey Dijon dressing (same one as above, just reserved for later)
Turn slow cooker on to low and spray with pan spray.  Evenly distribute onions over the bottom of the slow cooker.  Place celery ribs on top of the onions.
Rinse pork roast and pat dry with paper towels.  Combine the next 4 ingredients in small bowl and rub over the pork, being sure to get all sides.  Place the rubbed roast over the onions.
In another bowl, combine red pepper flakes, garlic, applesauce, dressing, molasses and bourbon.  Whisk until combine and pour over the top of the pork roast.
Set slow cooker for low and cook for 10 hours.  Remove the meat and onions from pot and set aside.  Discard the celery ribs and pour the juices that are left in the crock into small sauce pan.  Add the remaining 1 cup of honey Dijon dressing to the pan and reduce mixture over medium heat until 1 1/2 cups remains.  While the sauce is reducing, pull pork and onions with 2 forks and add back to the slow cooker.  Pour the reduced sauce over the pulled pork and stir until combined.  Keep warm, serve with your favorite fresh baked buns.

Doris Bornhoeft’s Pulled Pork
2- to 3-pound pork roast
1 12-ounce can Coca-Cola
1 envelope Lipton Onion Soup mix
1 12-ounce bottle barbecue sauce
Place pork roast and can of Coke in a crockpot and cook overnight.
The next day, drain liquid and shred pork with a fork. Add your favorite barbecue sauce and cook for another couple of hours before serving.

Pulled Pork Tostadas with Slaw and Chipotle Cream

It’s hard to escape the allure of pulled pork these days. Anyone who has been to quick-service restaurants such as Subway, Quizno’s or Burger King may have noticed the places have  barbecued pulled pork sandwiches on their menus. And according to Google Insights, pulled pork recipe searches have more than doubled in the past four years.

But when the weather is hot like it has been for the past couple of weeks, no one likes to fire up the oven to cook a pork shoulder or loin roast.

Home cooks, seeking flavorful meals that require minimal effort and time in the kitchen do have another option, though. They need to look no further than the slow cooker, which allows them a surprisingly easy preparation that they can simply walk away from with confidence that a delicious meal will be as good as ready when they return.

And once their pork is cooked and shredded to perfection, the number of dishes that can be made is almost never-ending.

Here is a Latin-inspired entree, Pulled Pork Tostadas with Slaw and Chipotle Cream, a bold combination of chili-rubbed pulled pork, bright cabbage slaw and chipotle-spiced sour cream.

Pulled Pork Tostadas with Slaw and Chipotle Cream
1 pound cooked pulled pork , warm or room temperature
3 or 4 limes
2 tablespoons canola oil or other neutral-flavored oil
8 cups shredded cabbage or 1 10-ounce bag coleslaw mix
¾ cup fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
¼ red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup sour cream
½ chipotle chili from a can of chipotle chilis in adobe sauce, seeded and finely minced
6 8-inch tostadas, (flat, crisped corn tortillas)
2 tomatoes, diced
3 radishes, cut into wedges
Halve and squeeze 1 or 2 of the limes to yield 2 tablespoons of juice. In a large bowl, combine the lime juice and oil. Add the cabbage, onion, and cilantro, tossing to combine. Add salt to taste. Cut the remaining 2 limes into 6 wedges each. Set the slaw and lime wedges aside.
In a small bowl, combine the sour cream and chipotle pepper. Season with salt and set aside.
Arrange the tortillas on plates. Top with the pork, slaw, sour cream mixture and tomatoes. Arrange the lime and radish wedges alongside and serve.
Yield: Serves 6.

Pulled Pork Wraps

Summer get-togethers are the perfect time to serve pulled barbecued meat sandwiches and the like. A favorite of many people is pulled pork, although chicken, beef, buffalo and turkey make excellent substitutes.

Just a couple of days ago, I put together a pulled chicken barbecue that was enthusiastically received by a small group of friends and relatives who joined us for a Fourth of July party. The pulled chicken was a lot leaner than many of the pork versions I’ve had over the years.

Pulled pork often is made with the fattier cuts of meat and then is drenched in a sweet sauce and served on a bun. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

A version I came across recently in an Associated Press food story uses tenderloin, a leaner cut of pork, skips the bun in favor of lettuce (Asian-style) and instead of a sugary sauce features a tangy vinaigrette-style sauce, which allows it to be served warm or cold and mix in some crunchy raw vegetables to add some color and texture.

Pulled Pork Wraps
1½ pounds pork tenderloin, cut into 2-inch chunks
1 quart no-salt chicken or vegetable stock
Salt and ground black pepper
4 cloves garlic, smashed
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon whole cloves
1 tablespoon pickling spice blend
¼ cup red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
Splash of hot sauce
¼ cup low-fat sour cream
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
1 red bell pepper, cored and finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 carrot, grated
Bibb lettuce, to serve
In a large pot, combine the pork, stock, ½ teaspoon of salt, ½ teaspoon of pepper, the garlic, bay leaves, cloves and pickling spice. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook until the pork is fork tender, about 1 hour.
Remove the pork from the liquid and allow to cool until easily handled. Using 2 forks or your fingers, shred or pull apart the pork into strands. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the vinegar, olive oil, hot sauce, sour cream and orange zest. Stir in the bell pepper, celery, carrot and the shredded pork. Season with salt and pepper. To serve, offer bowls of the pulled pork with lettuce leaves. Diners can spoon some of the pork into each leaf and eat as a wrap.
Yield: Serve: 6.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 180 calories, 28 percent of calories from fat, 6 grams fat (1.5 grams saturated, no trans), 75 milligrams cholesterol, 4 grams carbohydrates, 25 grams protein, 1 gram fiber, 90 milligrams sodium.

Pulled Pork Graduation Sliders

This is the time of the year for graduation parties. One way to avoid some of the hassles associated with these once-in-a-lifetime happenings, whether it’ high school or college, is to have the event catered. But not everyone can afford to dish out that kind of money.

If you’re a good cook or someone in the family is, it’s not that difficult to throw a few things together that will wow the guests and make the honoree proud at the same time.

The perfect food for such a memorable day would be one that could be made ahead of time. The following popular and easy recipe for pulled pork sliders fits that bill. It can be prepared up to two days before the party.

Pulled Pork Sliders
1 bone-in pork shoulder or Boston butt, about 5 pounds
4 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon paprika
1 14.5-ounces can beef or chicken broth
1 16-ounce bottle favorite barbecue sauce
32 slider buns
Place the pork shoulder on a sheet of plastic wrap. In a small bowl, mix together all the rub ingredients and rub all over pork. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate overnight.
Remove pork from the refrigerator an hour before baking it, and remove plastic wrap. Set pork in a roasting pan that has a lid. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Pour beef or chicken broth in bottom of pan. Cover with lid (use foil if you don’t have a lid) and place in the oven.
Bake 3½ to 4½ hours (for 5-pound roast) or until the internal temperature reaches 190 degrees. The pork is done when the bone slips out easily with no resistance. When the roast is nearly done, you can remove the lid or foil and baste the pork with pan juices so the outside browns and gets crispy. Remove from oven and let rest 10 minutes. Remove the bone and break roast apart into chunks. Let the chunks rest in the pan juices. Using forks, pull the roast pieces apart into shreds. Stir in desired amount of barbecue sauce. Serve ¼ cup pulled pork on each bun with coleslaw, if desired.
Note: To double recipe, use one 8- 10-pound or two 5-pound pork shoulders. For a larger pork shoulder, allow at least 6 hours cooking time.
Makes: 32 sliders
Approximate nutritional analysis per slider: 225 calories, 27 percent of calories from fat, 7 grams fat (2 grams saturated), 24 grams carbohydrates, 17 grams protein, 427 milligrams sodium, 48 milligrams cholesterol, no fiber.

Cinco de Mayo Special: Mexican Pulled Pork

Food is generally the centerpiece of most celebrations. And Cinco de Mayo, the day in which many Mexicans celebrate the defeat of French forces in the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, is no different.

Here is a recipe from the kitchen of Ingrid Hoffman, the bubbly host of the Food Network show “Simply Delicioso” and “Delicioso” on Galavision. The authentic recipe from the popular Latin cook is for pulled pork (Tinga Poblana), one my favorites. This particular recipe features a little kick, with some poblano chilies and chorizo sausage.

Mexican Pulled Pork (Tinga Poblana)
1 pound (about 3 medium) russet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 2 to 3-pound pork loin
1 yellow onion, chopped, plus ½ yellow onion left whole
2 garlic cloves, smashed
2 bay leaves
12 ounces raw chorizo, casing removed
5 small tomatoes, peeled, cored and chopped
2 canned chipotle chilies en adobo, finely chopped (seeded and ribbed for less heat)
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon dried marjoram
16 corn or flour tortillas
4 medium Haas avocados, halved, pitted, peeled and sliced
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
Lime wedges
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the potatoes and cook until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain the potatoes and set aside.
Place the pork in a large pot of water. Add the onion, garlic, and bay leaves and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer gently until the pork is cooked through, about 45 minutes. Remove the pork from the water and set it aside until it is cool enough to handle (discard the cooking liquid). Using your fingers or two forks, shred the meat into small pieces and set aside.
Break the chorizo into small pieces and fry it over medium-high heat in a large skillet or pot, stirring often, 8 to 10 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the chorizo to a paper towel-lined plate. Add the chopped onion to the same skillet and cook, stirring often, until soft, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the shredded pork, potatoes, tomatoes, and chipotle chilies and cook until the tomatoes break down and release their juices, about 15 minutes. Return the cooked chorizo to the pan and stir in the vinegar, thyme, marjoram and some salt. Continue to cook over medium heat until some of the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes.
While the pork cooks, heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add a tortilla and warm for 10 to 15 seconds. Flip the tortilla over and continue to warm until the tortilla is pliable and heated through, about another for 10 to 20 seconds. Place on a plate, cover with a kitchen towel, and set aside; repeat with the remaining tortillas (or simply warm the tortillas in the microwave).
Place pork in a serving bowl or bring it to the table in the cooking pot. Arrange the tortillas, avocado, and cilantro on a platter so guests can fill a tortilla with some of the meat and accompaniments. Pass a bowl of lime wedges around the table to squeeze over each serving.
Yield: Serves 8.

Braised and Pulled Ribs in Chilies

October really epitomizes the beginning of the cool-weather cooking season. The temperatures at night usually are in the 30s, while highs mostly are in the 60s.

One food that is right at home on a cold day in my opinion is pork in just about any manner. One of my favorite meals when the weather turns colder is baby pork ribs baked in the oven with sauerkraut. Another is pulled pork.

For those who share my affinity for pork, here is a recipe from celebrity chef Richard Blais, winner of Bravo’s cooking competition “Top Chef: All-Stars” and the runner-up of the fourth season of “Top Chef.” The Atlanta-based chef’s recipe for tender, braised pork ribs with a spicy green chilI reduction looks mighty hearty and the perfect dinner for a cool night.

Braised and Pulled Ribs in Chilies
1 12-ounce package bacon, diced
5 pounds pork ribs
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons ground coriander
2 tablespoons onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cube ham bouillon
2 quarts chicken stock
8 4-ounce cans green chilies
2 ounces jalapeno hot sauce
2 apple slices
Pork: Place all ingredients in a large soup pot. Bring to a boil and simmer for two hours. Remove the pork to a cutting board. Using two forks, pull meat from the bone and keep warm until serving.
Chili Reduction: Add canned green chilies and their liquid to a large saute pan, along with the jalapeno hot sauce. Cook over medium heat until reduced by one-third.
Place pulled pork on a plate with the chiles and reduction sauce. Garnish with apple slices, serve and savor.

Pulled-Pork Mini-Sliders

Anyone who goes out to eat these days knows about sliders. They’re the mini-burgers that have become popular the past couple of years. Just about everyone of the major restaurant chains has a version of them.

I fixed some barbecues the other night for Therese’s school potluck and served them on mini-buns and called them “Slider Joes.” They were a hit.

The extra buns that we had haven’t gone to waste, either. That’s because over the weekend I slow-cooked a 4-pound pork ham roast in a Dutch oven with about 2 pints of barbecue sauce. I cooked the meat for between 4 and 5 hours, turning it every 45 minutes or so.

About an hour before we planned to eat, I placed the roast on a plate, trimmed the fat and proceeded to pull the meat apart with two forks. Then, I put the meat back in the Dutch oven, mixed it with the barbecue sauce and finished cooking it. The result was some tasty pulled pork that I served with baked potatoes and winter squash (buttercup). Of course, we had a lot of meat leftover, so the buns have come in pretty handy.

I believe that this would be perfect fare for a holiday get-together, as would the following recipe, which includes a spicy mop sauce. For those of you who like to entertain at the holidays, you can’t have too many recipes such as these.

Slow-Roasted, Pulled-Pork Mini-Sliders
1 6- to 7-pound) pork butt (see note)
Canola oil
Your favorite dry rub
A spray bottle filled with equal parts apple juice and water
FOR THE MOP SAUCE: 2 tablespoons canola or peanut oil
½ cup chopped yellow onion
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon peeled, freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup ketchup
½ cup apple-cider vinegar
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup dark-brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
¼ teaspoon natural liquid smoke flavoring
To make the pork: Thoroughly massage the pork butt with canola oil and a liberal amount of rub. Set aside. Prepare a grill for slow-cooking at about 250 degrees. For a smoky flavor, use your choice of wood chips, such as pecan, hickory, cherry, apple, etc. Place a drip pan underneath the grate.
Place the pork on the grill and cover while cooking. Spray the meat with the mixture of apple juice and water every 30 minutes. The meat is done when a probe thermometer inserted into the middle of the pork registers 180 degrees and the meat falls off the bone, about 6 to 8 hours. Cover and let rest for 15 to 20 minutes, then shred with two forks.
To make the sauce: Bring a medium-sized sauce pan to medium heat. Add oil. When oil is shimmering, add onion and saute for about 3 minutes, then add garlic, ginger, cumin and cayenne pepper. Saute an additional 2 minutes, then stir in remaining ingredients and simmer, stirring until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. The sauce may be made ahead of time and refrigerated.
To serve: Place pulled pork on rolls. Top with mop sauce and your favorite coleslaw.
Yield: 24 servings on slider rolls or 16 servings on dinner-sized rolls.
Notes: Pork butt is sold under a variety of names, including Boston shoulder or Boston butt.

Pulled Pork Tacos

One of the more popular recipes that I’ve featured in my Herald food page column was one for pulled pork. I’ve made several versions of the recipe, and none have disappointed me.

Just this past week, I cooked some pheasant legs and put the shredded meat in a homemade barbecue sauce. It’s very tasty heated up and put on a piece of crusty bread or a homemade bun.

One thing I haven’t tried is putting the meat inside a taco or soft shell with a little cheese, shredded lettuce and the other fixings for the popular Mexican food.

Speaking of Mexican fare, here’s a slow-cooker recipe from the Midwest Dairy Association for Pulled Pork Soft Tacos that contains nonfat sour cream and reduced-fat Colby cheese. It takes only 35 minutes to prepare (plus time in slow cooker) and costs only $4.29 per serving. It’s also very nutritious.

Pulled Pork Soft Tacos
2 pound boneless pork loin roast
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 small white onion, coarsely chopped
½ cup orange juice
2 limes, cut in half
12 6-inch soft corn tortillas
1½ cups shredded reduced-fat Colby Jack
½ cup nonfat sour cream
1 teaspoon cumin
2 scallions, trimmed and chopped
1 8-ounce bag shredded red cabbage
¾ cup fresh salsa
Trim excess fat off of roast. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and ginger; rub generously over roast. Place in slow cooker with garlic, onion and orange juice; cook on low heat for 8 hours (or high for 4 to 6 hours.)
Remove pork to a large bowl and shred with forks. Strain pork liquid from slow cooker and pour over pulled pork to moisten. Squeeze lime juice on top and mix well. Divide into 12 servings.
In small bowl, mix together sour cream, cumin and scallions.
For each serving, cover corn tortilla with 2 tablespoons cheese; microwave for 20 seconds. Top with pulled pork, 2 teaspoons of sour cream mix, 1½ tablespoons shredded cabbage and 1 tablespoon of salsa. Fold and serve immediately.
Yield: Serves 6 (2 tortillas per serving).
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 457 calories, 17 grams fat (8 grams saturated), 88 milligrams cholesterol, 359 milligrams sodium, 40 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams dietary fiber, 36 grams protein.