Friday, April 16, 2010

Cooking for a Crowd - Pulled Pork Sandwiches

This year, just like many years passed I got a group of friends together and purchased a block of tickets to OPENING DAY 2010 - BRAVES v. CUBS.  Game time was 4:10pm so we planned to arrive in the parking lot around noon so we would have ample time to tailgate before game time.  There were about 20 friends attending the "party" all brining chips, beer, cookies, coleslaw, etc and I was in charge of the BBQ sandwiches.  All in all the day was a HUGE SUCCESS: a Monday off, beautiful weather, lots of fun friends, and the Braves won 16-5.  Here is how I made and transported the pork, and even if I do say so myself it was delicious!
I was feeding around 20 people and purchased 2 pork shoulders (aka Boston Butts or Bone in Pork Roasts). They were 10 and 11 pounds and this was more than enough food....I should have used either one large 13 pound shoulder or 2 small 7 pound shoulders for about 13-15 pounds total; so now I (and you) know.

Dry Rub:
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup smoked paprika
1/4 cup dried minced onions
3 tbls cumin
3 tbls coriander
1 tbl all spice
1 tbl garlic salt
1 tbl cayenne pepper (if you don’t like spicy, leave it out)
1 tsp cinnamon
A ton of black pepper, at least 2 tbls if not more

Mix all of the rub ingredients together and massage all over the pork. Place the shoulder(s) in a roasting pan fat side up. Pour milk into the pan until it is about 1/4 of an inch up the side and then chicken stock another 1/8 of an inch up the side for a little less than1/2 an inch worth of liquid, do this carefully as to only get liquid in the bottom of the pan and not splashing the rub off the pork. I know this sounds crazy, I thought so too the first time but something about the milk and chicken stock keep the pork perfectly moist. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil, as air tight as you can, and place in a 200 degree oven for 8 hours. Yes, this is a long time but low and slow with meat like this works the best. And resist the temptation, don’t open the oven, don’t pull back the foil, don’t touch it! Best case scenario: put it in when you go to bed and take it out when you wake up. After the long wait remove the pan from the oven, check with a meat thermometer to ensure the pork has reached at least 160; remove the shoulders to a cutting board to cool enough so you can handle them. Once cool, pull the pork off the bone into small pieces, I found the best way was to hold a chunk of the meat stable with tongs and pull pieces away with a large fork, keep shredding and pulling until all of the meat is down to your desired size.

Now for the sauce, you could definitely put a little store bought sauce onto your meat, put it in a bun and have a delicious sandwich, but you put all that work into the meat and now you have all of those juices in the bottom of that roasting pan….how hard can it be to make your own sauce? Not very hard, here is how I made mine:

Pan juices
1/4 c dark brown sugar
3 tbls balsamic vinegar
2 tbls ketchup
1 1/2 tbls worcestershire sauce
1 tbl dijon mustard
1/2 tbl whole grain mustard
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp minced dried onions
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp black pepper

Pour the juices from the pan through a colander/sieve to remove all the “fatty chunks,” I did it twice just to make sure I got it all. Pour the juices into a sauce pan and simmer on medium low for about 40 minutes or until it reduces to about a quarter of its original volume, about every 10-15 minutes while simmering skim the fat off the top with a spoon. Once reduced stir in all the other ingredients, simmer for 4-5 minutes then carefully taste (don’t burn your tongue) and adjust seasonings.  Pull the pot off the stove and let the sauce cool before putting into a squirt bottle.  While the sauce was still hot, I put about 1/4 cup of sauce on the meat so it could soak up all the goodness!
My sister and I put the pork into 2 gallon zip top bags and the sauce into the now emptied ketchup bottle (which because of its “squirt top” was perfect) and packed up in a large canvas bag with plates, plastic utensils, a roll of paper towels, bread and butter pickle chips, a beach towel and buns.  For tailgates I find a roll of paper towels is much better than napkins, so none blow away.  Since the pork had so much flavor we bought the cheap white hamburger buns and they were perfect! When we arrived at the Turner Field parking lot we set up a little assembly line with everything we had brought plus everyone else’s contributions of chips, cookies, coleslaw and even some vegan friendly rice krispy treats on a card table that we covered with the beach towel to save it from BBQ stains and let everyone make their own sandwich when they were ready. I made my sandwich with a big spoon full of pork, a healthy dousing of sauce, coleslaw and 2 bread and butter pickle chips complimented with a cold beer and salt and vinegar chips. I thought it was the perfect lunch at a tailgate in the south, and if only I never had to work on Mondays, everyday was opening day and I could eat all the tailgate food I wanted, without gaining 200 pounds...


  1. This was delicious!! Thanks for being awesome.

  2. Milk? Really? I am definitely intrigued and am gonna give it a shot. Great blog L!