Monday, July 6, 2009

Summer Pulled Pork Sandwiches - A Recipe for Yum


Today was a No Good, Horrible, Rotten, Very Bad Day. For baby James, that is. If you are new here, baby James has Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), which is fancy-pants for very-bad-heartburn-that-makes-Baby-James-cry-all-day-long. He's on medication for it... but it doesn't work. I know, I know. We're going to get a different medication, but that doesn't mean that today was full of rainbows and ponies and fun. In fact, by 10am, I knew I was going to spend the rest of the day sitting on the couch, jiggling an unhappy baby who insisted in poking out his lower lip and looking irresistibly cute and sad (and periodically screaming) all day long.


I've learned that when it's one of THOSE days, the no-good, horrible, rotten, very bad days, it's best to just roll with it. It's no use trying to resist, and thinking about all the things I should get done is just frustrating. If I've got plans for a big fancy dinner recipe, they're canceled. Which is why pulled pork sandwiches are SO awesome.

Wait... pulled pork sandwiches? Aren't those difficult and time consuming? Not even! I've always been intimidated of making pulled pork because it looked hard... and like a lot of work. All day kind of work. Now I know they are easy-peasy. Slather a pork butt (hehe.... Oh, I'm sorry, was that childish?) with a spice rub, bake, and shred. That's it! The slathering and the shredding are honestly so easy my 3 month old kid could do it.

I like this recipe because I can throw this together in a pinch, I don't have to bother with it all day long, and when it's done we have something fantastic to eat. So if you're having a no-good, horrible, rotten, very bad day, or even if you are just having a busy day where you need to get stuff done, this recipe is fantastic. It packs a lot of punch in the taste department, it has a big "wow" factor, and... am I forgetting anything? Oh yeah! It tastes amazing.


Summer Pulled Pork Sandwiches
Adapted from Martha Stewart Living, June 2009

The only downside to this recipe (if that's even possible) is that the pork butt has to cook all day, and is places where it's hot... you might not want to turn your oven on in the middle of the day. No fear! This is a spectacular do ahead recipe. Do the baking the evening before when it's cool out. Then all you need to do on barbecue day is serve. Easy peasy.

Obviously, the buns in the pictures are onion wheat buns (gluten!) that Nate has been enjoying. I've been eating my pulled pork sandwiches on gluten-free bread, which, while tasty, is rather less photogenic.

By the way, a pork "butt" isn't what it sounds like (::snicker:: Oh, I'm so immature). It's actually a shoulder cut. It's quite flavorful and it is mega-cheap. I bought mine for $1 a lb, though I am sure prices vary by location. It's quite a fatty cut, but the fat renders out in the long cooking (yet another reason to bake this in the oven instead of stew it in the crock pot).

5lb pork butt roast
1/2 cup dijon mustard
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup coarse salt
2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 garlic cloves
2 cups water
2 - 3 cups Classic Homemade Barbecue Sauce
(Or some storebought sauce... pansy. Just kidding. Kinda.)
8 sandwich buns
2 cups thinly sliced green cabbage (for serving)


Finely mince 3 garlic cloves, and place in a medium bowl.

Add 1/2 cup dijon mustard to the bowl.

Add 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar...

... and 1/4 cup coarse salt...

...add in 2 teaspoons smoked paprika (wow! gorgeous!)...

... 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, my personal favorite...

... and finally, 2 tablespoons coarsely ground pepper.

Mix it all together...

... place your 5 lb pork butt on a roasting rack...

... and slather with the spice paste.

Add 2 cups water to the bottom of the roasting pan. Cover securely with tinfoil. Let sit for at least 1 hour to absorb spice paste, or up to over night (or longer!).

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Cook, basting hourly, for about 6 hours, until pork is tender and pulls apart easily. Remove from oven and let cool.

Shred pork (with your fingers or with two forks), and toss with 2-3 cups barbecue sauce.

Serve atop a toasted onion bun with sliced cabbage.



  1. If you don't want to turn the oven on, you can do this in the crock pot. I have almost the same recipe and it turned out beautifully slow cooking all day.

  2. I have a confession to make: The reason I don't cook with a crock pot is... I accidentally set mine on fire. Honest! I have a gas stove, and well, you know, I turned the wrong burner on and I was like, "what's that weird smell?" So yeah. No more crock pot.

  3. My 5 month old and I had a day like that today. But we just ended up having cereal for dinner. I'll have to remember this for the next time she's having a bad day!

  4. I like to make my pulled pork in the crockpot too and it's great for the summer since it doesn't heat up the house. I keep my crockpot FAR away from the stove! I love the addition of the onion buns though. Those sandwich look AWESOME!

  5. The pulled pork looks wonderful but admit it Baby James looks much more scrumptious. I'm new here so I didn't know about his problem and I would have sent you an e-mail but I didn't see the link.
    Did you know that gluten shares a very similar protein molecule with dairy and soy? Whatever your doctor knows or doesn't know about it if little James is consuming either you might consider removing both from his diet for two weeks and then re-introducing one at a time. You may be entirely surprised at how well he does. I swear this is the voice of experience.

    You have a lovely blog, sorry for the public comment but I believed it was something you might wish to think about.

  6. You know actually, I HAVE given up dairy because James does in fact have a milk protein allergy. Good guess! And ever since, he's been way happier (seeing as he's not explosively farting and blowing himself across the room all day long). I just don't want to make a big deal about it because, as I see it, it's not permanent (I hope!). I've experimented a bit and he seems to do ok with low levels of it, so I'm still allowing myself some butter/sour cream, cream, since it's mostly fat and has low protein levels.

    I should probably put an e-mail address up!

  7. And of course (I might add) I'm breastfeeding, but when he does get a bit of formula, like at grandmommy's house, he gets the denatured stuff (but like, the first ingredient is CORN SYRUP. How is that a good source of nutrition for a baby?? Breast milk is much better).

  8. That pulled pork sandwich looks tasty!

  9. That pulled pork sandwich looks tasty!

  10. Becks:

    Corn Syrup? In baby formula? That just shows you how very much the FDA is looking out for us. My chiropractor makes baby formula from coconut milk as his wife is not nursing. Breast milk, of course, is always best. I kinda feel sorry for grandmommy. She's in for SUCH a learning curve!

  11. Looking up pork bbq wiches and up comes your blog with that insanely good-looking step by step not to mention that adorable babe. My youngest is a James also :)

  12. do you cook it with the foil on?

  13. Made this last night. Very good take on Martha's as I've made that one in the past. If you're going to make it in a slow cooker, I suggest adding salt to season vs 1/4 cup so it doesn't turn out too salty. Maybe a tablespoon to start and as you taste through the hours you can determine if you need more salt.