Game Day: Slow Cooked Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Pulled Pork Sandwhich

Rochelle and I both love football season and with the NFC Championship game right around the corner, what better snack to serve at your next party than this easy slow cooked pulled pork sandwich recipe. Having a large group over? No problem! Turn those pulled pork sandwiches into pulled pork sliders for a delicious finger food that all can enjoy. What make this recipe great is that it is SO easy to make. Throw the below ingredients into a slow cooker and in 4-6 hours (on high) or 8-10 hours (on low) you will have the most tender, juicy, packed-with-flavor dish perfect for your next game day party. Wondering which libations to serve? Check out our drink guide for the perfect pairing!

1 (4 1/2 to 5 pound) boneless or bone-in pork shoulder (also known as pork butt)
1  1/2 cans (14 ounces) chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth
1 – 2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
4 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 – 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 bottle of barbecue sauce (I used Sweet Baby Rays)
1 bag crostini sandwich rolls/buns or slider buns
Coleslaw – recipes below

Pulled Pork Banner

Combine the sugar, salt, chili powder, cumin, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Pat the pork dry, trim off any large areas of fat (optional) and rub the spice mixture all over the pork. Wrap the pork in plastic wrap or heavy duty ziplock bag and let it sit overnight in the refrigerator (The rub does not penetrate the meat during refrigeration, at least not deeply, but it does form a moist layer of seasoning that adheres well during cooking. You can also apply a bit more rub before putting the meat in the cooker.)

Place the onions and garlic in an even layer in the slow cooker and pour in the stock or broth. Place the meat on top of the onions and garlic. Pour 1/4 – 1/2 bottle of barbeque sauce over the pork, cover and cook until the pork is fork tender, about 6 to 8 hours on high or 8 to 10 hours on low.

Turn off the slow cooker and remove the pork.  Set a fine-mesh strainer over a medium heatproof bowl and pour the onion mixture from the slow cooker through the strainer and return the solids to the slow cooker. Set the strained liquid aside.

If the pork has a bone, remove and discard it. Return the shredded meat to the slow cooker and shred the meat into bite-sized pieces using two forks, discarding any large pieces of fat. Add the rest of the barbecue sauce (to taste) and mix to combine. If you do not have barbecue sauce use a spoon to skim and discard the fat from the surface of the strained cooking liquid, and then add 1/4 cup of the liquid at a time to the slow cooker until the pork is just moistened. Taste and season with salt as needed.  – Makes 6 sandwiches.

Perfect Pair? COLESLAW!

I don’t eat coleslaw often, but with pulled pork sandwiches it is a must for me. Add it to your sandwich or as an accompaniment on the side. Check out 10 different twists on the “classic  coleslaw” recipe by Rachel Ray. Pick your favorite or experiment with your coleslaw concoction.

Cheers,
Crystal



Drink Pairing

What to drink with your pulled pork sandwich?

  • Our friends over at Heritage Public House, located in Santa Rosa, California, suggest either a Pale Ale or Brown Ale to complement this dish. The malty sweetness balanced by hoppy bitterness in a pale ale pairs wonderfully as it brings out the flavors in the pork rather than competing with it while the malty flavors in a brown ale tend to bring out the spiciness of the dish.
  • A bright and fruity Barbera wine pairs nicely with the spice and bbq flavors in the pork. Michael Muscardini, of Muscardini Cellars,  makes a delicious Barbera that’s worth a try.
  • If you are looking for a cocktail, try a dark spirit based cocktail like a Lynchburg Lemonade.
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Perfect Pomegranate Libations

It’s pomegranate season and with a tree in the backyard producing several of these exotic fruits, we decided to experiment a bit. Sure, the deep red seeds are a wonderful accessory to salads and soups but today we’re bringing them to the cocktail world. Deseeding and juicing a pomegranate sounds intimidating, but we have some easy tips below to get you started.

Happy Thirsty Thursday.


Pomegranate Manhattan

1 ½ ounces Rye Whiskey or Bourbon (you can use brandy if other options aren’t available)
1 ½ ounce fresh pomegranate juice 
1 tsp. superfine sugar
2 – 3 dashes of Angostura bitters

Preparation:
Place all ingredients in a shaker with a handful of ice. Shake vigorously until sugar has dissolved and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with fresh pomegranate seeds or maraschino cherry.

Pomegranate Margarita

1 ½ ounces silver tequila
1 ½ ounce fresh pomegranate juice 
½ ounce triple sec
2 ounces fresh lime juice
½ – 1 ounce simple syrup or agave nectar
Course salt for rimming (optional)

Preparation:
Rim glass with course salt. (optional) Place all ingredients in a shaker with a handful of ice. Shake and pour over ice. Garnish with fresh pomegranate. Tip: to make salt stick to the rim of your cocktail glass,  wipe rim with lime wedge.

Aprons & Stilettos

1 ½ ounces vodka
1 ½ ounces  fresh pomegranate juice 
Juice from ½ blood orange, about 1 oz  (navel orange is fine, but if used I would decrease the amount of triple sec)
½ ounce Triple Sec
¼  ounce elderflower liqueur 
Sugar Rim

Preparation:
Place all ingredients in a shaker with a handful of ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a cocktail glass rimmed with sugar.  Tip: to make sugar stick to the rim of your cocktail glass,  wipe rim with orange wedge.


Pomegranate Tips: 

What’s the best way to deseed and juice a pomegranate? First, fill a large bowl with water, cut the pomegranate into quarters, submerge the fruit and begin removing the seeds underwater. The membrane will float and the seeds will sink. Remove the membrane and drain water with a colander.

Next, you have two options for juicing. The first method, and the method I prefer, is to quickly pulse the seeds in a blender and strain using a sieve in order to remove the seeds / pulp. The second method, which my sister shared with me, is to cut the pomegranate in half and juice on a juicer as you would with a lemon. Be careful and make sure you have your APRONS on as the seeds have a tendency to pop and stain.

A Thanksgiving Cocktail

With the Thanksgiving holiday right around the corner we’ve decided to share with you a twist on a classic cocktail (and personal favorite of mine): the sidecar. Traditionally made with cognac, orange liqueur and lemon juice, this variation adds aromatic spicy notes and apple infusion for the perfect winter cocktail.

A Turkey in a Sidecar

½ ounce Grand Marnier or orange liqueur
1 ½ ounces chilled mulled cider (I have a quick and easy recipe for this)
Brown sugar and pumpkin spice for rimming (I found a jar of pumpkin pie spice at Trader Joe’s for $1.99)

 

Preparation:
Place all ingredients in a shaker with a handful of ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a cocktail glass rimmed with a mixture of brown sugar and pumpkin spices (optional).  Tip: to make sugar/spices stick to the rim of your cocktail glass,  wipe rim with orange or lemon wedge.

1 Batch of Mulled Cider

3 cups apple cider
1 – 2 cinnamon sticks
3 – 4 orange or lemon slices

 

Preparation:
Bring cider, cinnamon sticks and citrus slices to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 25 – 30 minutes.


Recipe Variations:
Feel free to dress up the above recipe with various combinations of spices and fruits. If you have cloves, allspice berries or star anise they also make a great addition to the cider. Don’t forget to strain the cider before cooling down in the fridge when smaller spices are added.