What's For Dinner: Pulled Pork Sandwiches

For the finale of Meat Week, I opted to make pulled pork after being inspired by a feature on the dish in a recent issue of Food and Wine magazine. Instead of using the recipe in the magazine, however, I opted to use a different one I found on the Internet -- there's no way I could pass by a recipe that involves root beer! I purchased a couple of pounds of pork shoulder at Whole Foods in Fort Collins and I sourced a bottle of root beer made with natural ingredients at Big Hollow Co-op here in town. Though I was considering just buying a bottle of barbecue sauce to finish off the pulled pork, I decided that would be a bit of a travesty given the provenance of the meat, so I took advantage of an afternoon teleconference and made a batch from scratch. It took a lot of ingredients, but not too much time, and I think the results definitely rival what can be found bottled in a grocery store.

Pulled Pork
makes enough for 8+ sandwiches

2-3 lbs pork shoulder
1 12 oz bottle Virgil's root beer

1. Place the pork shoulder in a slow cooker.
2. Pour a bottle of root beer over the pork. Set the slow cooker to low and cook for 6-7 hours.
3. Use a knife and fork to shred the pork. Drain off the liquid.
4. Stir in about 1-2 cups of barbecue sauce.
5. Serve immediately. I served the pulled pork along with hamburger buns, potato chips, and vegetarian baked beans.

Barbecue Sauce (adapted from this Food and Wine recipe)
makes about 3 cups

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 medium onion, chopped
fine sea salt
1/4 cup Maker's Mark whisky
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 tablespoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 cup water
1 cup Simply Heinz ketchup
1/4 cup organic molasses
1/4 cup yellow mustard
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 teaspoon hot sauce

1. Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.
2. Add in the chopped onion and garlic along with a pinch of salt. Cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Stir occasionally.
2. Pour in the whiskey, and simmer for two minutes.
3. Add in the chili pepper, black pepper, allspice, and cloves. Cook for about 3 minutes, or until the spices become fragrant.
4. Stir in the brown sugar, water, ketchup, molasses, mustard, cider vinegar, and hot sauce. Reduce the heat to low/medium-low and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the sauce thickens.
5. After the sauce has thickened, use an immersion blender to puree the sauce. (Alternately, use a blender, but allow the sauce to cool a bit first before pureeing.)
6. Use immediately, or refrigerate for up to two weeks.

{bbq sauce ingredients -- chili pepper and allspice partially hidden, water and veggie oil MIA}

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