Pulled Pork Without BBQ Sauce
February 5, 2015 9:43 AM   Subscribe

I made a gigantic roast pork loin with herb rub last night and now we have a huge amount left over. I want to make pulled pork with it, but the SO doesn't like BBQ sauce, any variation. What else could I use to get the physical properties of pulled pork (soft, melt in your mouth savory) without using BBQ sauce?

My first thought was to go Thai-ish and use coconut milk and curry paste and peanut butter to make a satay-ish sauce with enough acid in it to soften the cooked pork even more, then drain it, sprinkle the pork with crushed peanuts, and serve on a bun with pickles.

Another idea was tomato paste and a ton of cumin.
posted by The Whelk to Food & Drink (27 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Mojo! I buy it in a bottle at Publix, but Badia and Goya make them. There are recipes as well.

Serve with rice and black beans! Maduros (fried sweet plantains) YUM!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:46 AM on February 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

I think pork loin is way too lean to get that texture, sauce or no sauce. You might have much better luck slicing it thinly.

Thai sounds good though. Serious Eats had a recent article on a Filipino pork dish that sounded excellent.
posted by supercres at 9:47 AM on February 5, 2015 [8 favorites]

Not sure what your asking -- pulled pork generally refers to how you cooked the pork (long low and slow so that the meat just falls apart). Once you've done that, then you can sauce it, or do whatever with it.

We use leftover smoked pork (cooked so that it falls apart) in a number of tex-mex dishes (fulfilling your no bbq sauce desire) with great results - burritos, enchilada, quesadillas.
posted by k5.user at 9:47 AM on February 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

I would shred it and use it as the base for a filling for pot stickers.
posted by jbickers at 9:48 AM on February 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

Yeah, as others are saying, the physical properties of pulled pork come from the cut of meat used and length of cooking, not from the sauce. Your flavoring ideas sounds great, but you should slice not try to shred.
posted by neroli at 9:54 AM on February 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Loin makes very mediocre pulled pork, but my mother uses it to make pork salad, which is like chicken salad or tuna salad, but...you know, with pork. It's good! It just sounds awful. Use sweet gherkins for your pickle.

I think your curry-type idea sounds good. You can also make a pretty fine variation on shepherd's pie with leftover loin.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:59 AM on February 5, 2015

Response by poster: Yeah I've never had pulled pork that wasn't dripping in BBQ sauce so the two just go together in my mind, so I guess I'm asking how to deal with two pounds of allready cooked pork loin.
posted by The Whelk at 10:01 AM on February 5, 2015 [3 favorites]

It also makes a pretty good sandwich, and you can make a passable Cubano with pork loin, though shoulder is canon.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:11 AM on February 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yeah, in Tennessee and Alabama, drowning pulled pork in BBQ sauce is an insult to the pork. :-)

You could fry some up for carnitas - just add some cumin, garlic salt and oregano.

If you haven't already shredded it, cube some for Pork Green Chile Stew.
posted by dawkins_7 at 10:14 AM on February 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

NC BBQ is marinated in vinegar, SC's is a mustard sauce. Does Mr. Whelk like these?
posted by brujita at 10:21 AM on February 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

What about a quick and dirty banh mi? Make some quick carrot and daikon pickles. (That sounds intense, but they only take like an hour to pickle.) Slice a baguette, spread with mayo, and then put some thinly sliced pork, some of the pickles, some thin cucumber slices and cilantro leaves, and maybe some Sriracha. Eat. I have no idea whether this is authentic, because we don't have Vietnamese food out here in the hinterlands, but it's a very good packed lunch to take to work.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 10:22 AM on February 5, 2015 [6 favorites]

Yeah I've never had pulled pork that wasn't dripping in BBQ sauce so the two just go together in my mind, so I guess I'm asking how to deal with two pounds of allready cooked pork loin.

May I introduce you to the majesty of Carolina barbecue?

Here's a basic recipe.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:22 AM on February 5, 2015 [3 favorites]

Agree that lean pork loin will never have the same soft, melt in your mouth quality as pulled pork. Check out this CHOW thread for some ideas.
posted by Majorita at 10:38 AM on February 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

you could pop it in the slow cooker and let it cook down with some brown sugar and soy sauce and red and yellow peppers and onions and pineapple, and then shred it and serve it in a wrap with rice and teriyaki sauce. we do that quite a bit with pork (because I also don't like bbq sauce at all) and it's delicious.
posted by euphoria066 at 10:47 AM on February 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yeah, if you really want to pull it, you're going to want to cook it longer. When I do pulled pork in a slow cooker, I use a rub and then just pour a dark soda or a hard cider over it and add a little bit of liquid smoke. I freeze it in smaller portions and then use it for fried rice, tacos or nachos, or BBQ. The flavor is great but still neutral enough (as opposed to cooking in BBQ sauce) that it can be used in a lot of things. Also, cooking in barbecue sauce just leads to greasy BBQ sauce...
posted by natabat at 10:52 AM on February 5, 2015

Yeah, you're not going to get pulled pork from loin. The reason shoulder or butt are used is they have a lot of connective tissue. The low/slow cooking converts the collagen into gelatine, which is what gives that distinctive mouthfeel.

Also usually when I make pulled pork I cook slow with a rub and liquid--beer, sure. Wine. Cider. Dr Pepper (for serious). Stock. Whatever. After cooking I take the liquid, separate out most of the fat, and reduce it as the base for the BBQ sauce. Extra porkiness!

I'd probably look at:

- The best sandwiches. Maybe sliced pork, apple or pear, and gruyere, grilled.
- Chop up and make a pork-based chili
- Toss in at the end of stir fries or curries
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:06 AM on February 5, 2015 [5 favorites]

I just made pulled pork in the slow cooker two nights ago. Shoulder meat. Bottle of coke. Apple cider vinegar, chipotles in adobo sauce. Sliced (the tarter the better) apples. I'm not a fan of barbecue sauce either.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 11:09 AM on February 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Posole! Total comfort food. You can also make it with chicken.
posted by mchorn at 11:13 AM on February 5, 2015 [3 favorites]

That sounds like it's perfectly ready for mole with a little rice.
posted by corb at 11:55 AM on February 5, 2015

You need shoulder for pulled pork. If you slow cook that, you don't even need a sauce.
For your loin roast, perhaps use vinegar and cumin - but the softness won't come no matter what. Wrongpiecameat.
posted by Namlit at 11:56 AM on February 5, 2015

Pulled pork is tender because it has all that collagen and connective tissue that's been melted out, and redistributed through the muscle fibers, which makes what would otherwise be tough meat feel rich and unctuous in the bite. But you've already got tender meat; if you want it more tender in the bite, like pulled pork, you can tenderize it mechanically by slicing it up.

So, you can slice it: Make sandwiches such as Banh Mi described above. I literally did that with a pork roast last week and I'm reaching Peak Banh at home, but it's great.

You can cube it: Chili Verde is my favorite stewed pork dish, and you could make it easily by cubing the pork you have into something like 1/2" (or smaller) dice. Let the pork spend some time in the simmer; it'll trade some flavor with the chill and the water and acid should tenderize it a bit.

You can really cut it down: You could make thin sub-1/4" slices across the grain and then chop those into matchsticks. These will work great in stir fries (no need to cook the pork again, just toss in to coat and heat), or in tacos.

You can macerate it: cube it and throw it in a clean food processor and you can get a kind of spam or pork pate (which can go on the aforementioned Banh mi), or into the wontons or pot stickers (which are really easy to do, just a slightly novel process that mixes pan-frying and steaming).
posted by Sunburnt at 12:25 PM on February 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Er, point of order, that's not what maceration is. To macerate is more or less to marinate but not as a pre-cooking process. E.g. soaking berries in booze before putting them on ice cream.

Making a pate from cold meat is difficult--works better when warm. But yeah, you could make a kind of country pate-ish-thing; process in a food processor with butter and maybe some reduced cream. Perhaps a shot of brandy or something.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:33 PM on February 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

Ah, I'm only familiar with the more mechanical definition; didn't know there was a culinary version.
posted by Sunburnt at 1:10 PM on February 5, 2015

Maybe you can make carnitas with the pulled pork for tacos/burritos whatever? If you're looking for something saucey instead of merely seasoned, maybe with mole sauce you could make some bomb-ass tacos/burritos.
posted by AppleTurnover at 3:24 PM on February 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

One other suggestion: lomo di orza. Instead of shredding the pork, slice it thinly and submerge it in olive oil, then refrigerate it overnight. It makes a wonderful cold dish. You could also infuse the oil with rosemary, crushed garlic, and other seasonings, but since you've already seasoned the meat that step isn't quite as crucial.
posted by tully_monster at 6:47 PM on February 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Careful about crushed raw garlic in anaerobic environments; garlic often carries botulinum spores, which aren't going to be a problem most of the time. But crushed and safely immersed in oil away from oxygen is where it likes to live, so if you're going to do that best to poach the garlic beforehand.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:20 PM on February 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

As far as non-BBQ sauce goes.... salsa verde! So yummy! Mexican restaurants have this on their menu called "Chile Verde" which is just pulled pork in the sauce. You can make your own salsa verde, or buy it jarred -- Trader Joe's has a pretty good one. I've also sauced pulled pork with jarred regular (red) salsa like the kind you'd eat with tortilla chips. With either salsa, just add it to the cooked meat and let it heat up and cook down a little. It's good served with with tortillas on the side, or served over rice, made into enchiladas, or just by itself next to veggies. I'm not a huge fan of BBQ myself either -- I prefer less sweet/more savory meat.

Ignore the people saying you can't make pulled pork from loin. You can too: I do it all the time. It's delicious, and those nay-sayers can't have any, so there! Since your meat is already cooked though, it may not break down much more into the texture you're looking for and could be dry; you could try heating it on low for a few hours with the salsa, or dice the meat and let it marinate in the fridge in the sauce for a day or two before heating to see if the acids in the sauce would tenderize it. Unless it's already tender enough to shred from the roasting, in which case, ignore that point. Next time you have a loin though; pop that sucker in the crockpot raw with some onion, garlic, stock, etc. on low for 10 hours & you'll have amazing pulled pork.

If you don't like the salsa idea, my grandma used to serve shredded pork in gravy over biscuits or rolls -- that was some comfort-food heaven right there.
posted by cuddles.mcsnuggy at 2:02 PM on February 6, 2015

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