Lean & Mean Pulled Pork Barbecue
When I had my first baby, I remember struggling to get the stroller through a double set of doors, only to be assisted by a kind woman who seemed to understand my inability to easily do this myself. She remarked that fellow moms are often the ones who hold the doors, having struggled with a few in their day.
This willingness to help so often translates to the kitchen. While chatting with a friend on the phone a while back, she suddenly changed the subject to report that she had a new, three-ingredient recipe to pass along. She mentioned that another friend relayed the recipe at their sons’ baseball game the week before. It was so easy. There was no need to write anything down.
So it goes with a much-loved recipe. Fellow parents, coworkers, friends, and family members so often pass along a recipe that they enjoy, be it a newfound success or a tried-and-true favorite that has long been in the weekly rotation. Think of it as a helping hand. It’s holding the door and inviting someone to go through in hopes of making their day a little easier…and a little more delicious.
Beyond the inherent ease of the following pulled pork dish–the ingredients are minimal and the cooking is hands-off—the recipe offers an added perk. By using the tenderloins instead of the traditional pork shoulder, the end result is leaner yet every bit as tender. A choice of several braising liquids ensures plenty of moisture and flavor.
While there are many worthy store-bought barbecue sauces, a homemade version offers impressive flavor with surprisingly little effort. Leftover sauce will keep indefinitely; try it instead of ketchup in your favorite meatloaf recipe or create a barbecue chicken pizza.
Leftover pulled pork may be repurposed in tacos (try coleslaw as a topping!) or on a Tex-Mex salad (for a tasty dressing, combine equal parts salsa and ranch dressing). Or scoop onto a roll, top with your favorite shredded cheese, a spoonful of extra barbecue sauce, and grill panini style. The pork is rather satisfying all by itself, too!
For the record, it is not only the moms who hold the doors. I remember a thoughtful grandfather who literally picked up my heavy stroller and carried it up a small flight of steps so I didn’t have to bump my way over them. Funny how the subject of food has the ability to spark all sorts of memories!
If you like cole slaw served alongside or piled on top, try this light and delicious recipe for Classic Creamy Cole Slaw–with Options.
This recipe may be tailored to whatever amount of pork is needed. While you may certainly use your favorite store-bought barbecue sauce, I love the flavor of the recipe that follows; prepare it in advance with basic pantry ingredients. The easy sauce is bursting with flavor and will keep in your fridge for weeks.
- Pork tenderloin(s)
- Beer or chicken stock (I have even used root beer)
- Slather It On Barbecue Sauce (see recipe below), or your favorite store bought barbecue sauce
- Place the desired number of pork tenderloins in a slow cooker along with a 1/2 cup of beer or stock per pound of pork. (Leftovers are delicious, so cook extra!)
- Cook for 6-8 hours on low or 3-4 hours on high.
- Pour off liquid, reserving a cup or so of it, and shred pork. I find this is easiest to do with two dinner forks–on a dinner plate for easy clean up.
- Place meat back in the slow cooker and mix in barbecue sauce, coating to your liking. If desired, you may stir in some of the reserved cooking liquid and thin to your desired level of sauciness.
- Cook on low to heat through, another 30 minutes or so.
Serve with coleslaw, rolls, and additional barbecue sauce. When using leftovers for tacos or salad, top with chopped avocado, tomatoes, shredded cheese, and any other taco toppings of choice.
This basic barbecue sauce is a perfect balance of “tomatoey” goodness and vinegary kick. Ginger and soy sauce are the secret ingredients that round out the flavors. Preparing this sauce is about as easy as running to the store to buy some. It consists primarily of pantry ingredients and requires a quick, 5-minute simmer.
Leftovers will keep several weeks in your fridge. For easy storage, pour into any condiment jars you happen to empty in the process and label accordingly.
- Slather-it-on Barbecue Sauce:
- 1 1/2 cups ketchup
- 1 cup cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
- 1 cup, packed, (8-ounces) brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger or 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 2 tablespoons ground (dry) mustard
- 4 tablespoons ancho chili powder (may use regular chili powder)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2-3 thin slices lemon
- Mix all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.
- Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Remove lemon slices. Stored in the refrigerator, the sauce will keep for a month or more.
And a few older photos of a favorite meal…