…with spicy pickled red onions and pretzel rolls!
I didn’t want to bog down the title too much with all that info, but those details are worth mentioning! They make these pulled pork sandwiches S-P-E-C-I-A-L.
Let’s talk pulled pork. Are you a fan? I most definitely am, but it isn’t a food that I think to make all that frequently. I am not totally sure why. It’s freakin’ delicious. It’s easy. Everyone loves it. And it always makes a TON, which means many quick and easy meals in one pot. What’s not to like? Not a thing.
I THINK it might have something to do with the fact that I didn’t grow up eating a lot of BBQ-style food like pulled pork. My mom just didn’t make that sort of thing. My husband didn’t grow up eating it either, so it doesn’t occur to either of us to make BBQ foods that often. But when I do get a hankerin’ for some juicy, saucy, spicy-sweet pulled pork, it always works out quite well for the both of us.
This particular version uses a hefty amount of spices (give me all the cumin! LOVE it), maple syrup, and BOURBON. Yes, yes, and yes. Again, I ask, what’s not to like?
There is so much flavor going on in this pot, and it’s the perfect balance of heat, sweet, spice, and savory. It is pork after all. Porkiness galore! The meat develops this super flavorful crust on the outside, and when you take it out after a few hours in the oven, it looks like you’ve charred the bajeezus out of it…but then you touch it ever so gently with a fork and it falls apart like a dream. Tender, juicy bits of heaven that soak up the glorious bourbon-flavored juices before getting doused in an incredible sauce.
I’ll say it one more time: what’s not to like?
To make matters oh-so-much-better, I serve this pulled pork on pretzel rolls with spicy pickled red onions and lots of melty cheese. The pickled red onions are something I’ve mentioned many times before on this blog. They are a go-to condiment in our house, and I almost always have a jar in the fridge. They go with SO MANY THINGS. Burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches. We’ve been known to make a cheese plate for dinner and garnish every bite with a pickled onion or three. They are THE BEST.
The pretzel rolls can only make things better. Right? I mean, it’s BREAD that tastes like a SOFT PRETZEL. Amazeballs. The savory saltiness of the rolls pairs just perfectly with that spicy-sweet pork. Yum. I went all out and made my own this time, but I am certainly not above buying them from the store. Do whatever works for you.
We had family visiting when I made these, and I knew that this was the perfect thing to make for a crowd. The sandwiches disappeared within minutes of being served. Lots of happy grunting and finger licking ensued. Despite that I used this to feed a bunch of people, this recipe makes a TON of pulled pork, and I inevitably had leftovers. Which is going to work in your favor, people…
Stay tuned for the most epic use of leftover pulled pork ever. It’s coming your way later this week. Trust me, you don’t want to miss it. Is there such a thing as too much pork in one week? Don’t answer that.
In the meantime, let’s drool together over this saucy minx of a sandwich. Grrr, baby.
1 (6-7-lb) pork shoulder
¼ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, smashed
1 cup bourbon
¼ cup maple syrup
2 cups of BBQ sauce
Store-bought or homemade pretzel rolls (I made them using this recipe)
Pickled red onions (see this post for the recipe)
Sliced provolone cheese
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Pat the pork shoulder completely dry with paper towels. In a bowl, combine the brown sugar, paprika, garlic powder, salt, pepper, chili, cumin, coriander, and onion powder. Mix well and rub half of it on the pork.
Heat a large Dutch oven or oven-safe pot over medium-high heat and add the canola oil. Once the oil is shimmering, add the pork shoulder and sear until golden brown on all sides, about 2 minutes per side. Carefully remove the pork shoulder from the pot and set aside.
Turn off the heat and add in the sliced onions, garlic cloves, bourbon, and maple syrup. Scrape the bottom of the pot to get all the browned bits. Add the pork back to the pot, cover, and then place in the preheated oven.
Roast for 6-8 hours or until the pork is falling apart and shreds easily with a fork. Shred the pork in the pot and then stir in the remaining spice mixture. Toss the pork with the BBQ sauce and then place it back in the oven for 15 minutes.
Serve warm on toasted rolls with pickles, cheese, and pickled red onions.