If you haven’t yet seen my post on pulled pork tacos yet, I recommend you check it out here first before diving into this article. Today is about how to use up leftover pulled pork to make some saucy, delicious, messy pulled pork sandwiches. I recommend making the sandwiches for leftovers because on the day of cooking, the pork is just so damn flavourful and juicy. I am a pork purist, and believe that day-of pork stands on its own and doesn’t need to be smothered in sauce that can sometimes hide all the work you did to make it so juicy in the first place! A few days later, however, the pork may have dried out just a tad, and can be completely brought back to life with a sauce that compliments the flavour of the pork and adds that extra bit of juiciness that’s been lost over the days in the fridge.
I’m serving up pulled pork sandwiches in a sweet and tangy barbeque sauce topped with a vinegar-based red cabbage, jalapeño and radish slaw. The sweet and smoky sauce pairs so perfectly with the salty pork, and the recipe actually belongs to a close friend. He worked on perfecting this sauce for days and has a bit of a love affair with BBQ sauce, so trust me, it’s delicious. The spicy slaw serves as the necessary acidic relief from all that richness, and also adds crunchy texture to an otherwise mushy, delicious mess.
This sandwich is salty, smoky, sweet, spicy, tangy, and just downright delicious. Get some beers in the fridge, stock up your napkin supply, and get cooking!
Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Tangy Slaw
It's going to take some time (19 hours...give or take), but damn is it worth it. Find a buddy, have a few beers, and get cookin'
- About 7 pound pork shoulder
- 6 tbsp paprika
- 2 tbsp mustard powder
- 2 tbsp salt
- 2 tbsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 2 tsp black pepper
- 10 cups cold water
- 1/4 cup salt
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 tbsp coriander seed
- 1 tbsp mustard seed
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 of pork rub
- 500 ml chicken stock
- 1 white onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup ketchup
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 2 tsp yellow mustard
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp mustard powder
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 2 garlic cloves , minced
Pickled Red Onions
- 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup white vinegar
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp mustard seed
- 1/2 red onion , very thinly sliced
- 1/2 head of purple cabbage , very thinly sliced
- 1/2 red onion , pickled (see above)
- 3 green onions , finely chopped
- 1/2-1 full jalapeño , finely chopped*
- 4 radishes , thinly sliced in rounds
- 1 tbsp chopped parsley
- 2 tbs red onion pickling liquid
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp grainy Dijon mustard
- 1 pinch sugar
Instructions for the Pork
Night before eating, prepare the rub by combining paprika, mustard powder, salt, garlic powder, brown sugar, cayenne pepper and black pepper in bowl. Divide in half, and set one half aside for tomorrow.
Prepare the brine by combining water, salt, brown sugar, coriander seed, mustard seed, bay leaves, and half pork rub in large container or bowl deep enough to cover pork shoulder. Stir until dissolved (except for seeds)
Pat dry pork shoulder with paper towel and poke holes all over using skewer or fork. These holes will help the brine seep into the meat better. Submerge pork in brine and cover with plastic wrap. Leave in fridge for at least 12 hours, up to 24 hours.
Remove pork from brine and pat dry with paper towel. Cover pork completely with rub and put back in fridge for one hour (if time allows), or place directly into the pot with the fat side up. Pour in chicken stock about 1 1/2 inches up side of pot (do not pour over pork, rub will come off). Add quartered onion and smashed garlic cloves into chicken stock.
Cover and place in oven at 275°F (or on the grill on very low) for 6 hours, or longer if pork is not very fork tender. Check on pork every 1.5 hours, adding about 1/2 cup chicken stock to the bottom of the pot each time. Start basting pork with surrounding cooking liquid after 3 hours, but not before (because the rub will come off). Pork and surrounding liquid will start to look burnt about 3 hours in. This is OK and the burnt bits are actually packed with delicious deep flavour. If you feel the top of your pork is looking too burnt, place a piece of aluminium foil directly over the top of the pork, but still keep pot covered with lid as well. About 20 minutes before removing pork from oven, remove lid and aluminium foil if applicable. Baste the pork with cooking liquid, and leave uncovered in oven for 20 minutes. This will help form a slight crust on top of pork. Remove pork after 20 minutes and set aside to rest for 10 more minutes.
Remove the pork from the pot, and place in a shallow dish. Scoop out all brown bits from bottom of pot (onion and garlic) and place on pork. Using two forks, pull the pork apart and incorporate brown cooking bits. Add 2 tablespoons of brown cooking liquid from pot and incorporate. This is a perfect time to sample the pork on its own. Prepare to have your mind blown. Pour the sauce overtop, stir, and enjoy!
For the Pickled Red Onions
Prepare pickled red onions at least 1 hour before eating. Combine white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, salt, sugar, and mustard seed. Stir until dissolved. Add thinly sliced red onion and ensure that all onions are submerged in liquid. Cover and set aside
For the Sauce
In small pot, combine all ingredients for BBQ sauce. Place on stove over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Cook until sauce is thick and coats a spoon, about 20 minutes.
Cook until sauce is thick and coats a spoon, about 35 minutes
For the Slaw
In meantime, combine all ingredients for slaw vinaigrette. In large bowl, combine cabbage, pickled red onion, green onion, jalapeño and radish. Add vinaigrette and set aside for at least 10 minutes before serving
Serve it Up!
Slice buns and heat on grill if desired. Top buns with a healthy portion of pork and slaw, and dig in!
*Always taste jalapeño peppers before putting them into something. Jalapeño are delicious peppers, but they vary greatly in heat. Some taste like green peppers, others can blow your top off. Be sure to test the heat level and add the appropriate amount to your slaw accordingly. You can always add more, but you can’t take it away once it’s in!