Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Carolina Pulled-Pork Sandwiches

Well used recipes that are splattered and marked up are the best.  That is exactly the case with this pulled pork recipe that I have long since forgotten where I got it from.  The page was slyly torn out of a magazine at some doctor's office, for which I felt guilty for a while.  Now that I look back at how many times I've made these tasty sandwiches and how the simple flavors bring me back to happy times, I'm glad I took that recipe even if it did mean that someone else didn't get to see it!

My notes say that I first made this recipe in 1999... I remember the day perfectly.  I was 8½ months pregnant and for some unexplained reason I prepared a feast for all the neighborhood kids and adults for my son's 3rd birthday party.  Thank goodness my mother was there to help me as I seem to remember my feet swelling to the size of small watermelons shortly after lunch was served.  I don't think I moved for 3 days afterwards and definitely didn't cook again for weeks.

Ketchup is not an ingredient or condiment that I use often.  Frankly, I think it's a tad "yucky".  However... Carolina Pulled Pork calls for what I think is a fairly large quantity of ketchup, and I admit that I keep a bottle on hand simply for this recipe.  Aromatics, spices, pork, and a touch of apple cider vinegar combine in a stock pot with the ketchup, bubbling away for about an hour producing a savory scent that makes your stomach growl in anticipation.  The measurement of apple cider vinegar is perfect, adding just a bit of tang but not overpowering the other ingredients.  Feel free to adjust the cayenne pepper to your taste, although we have found that if you reduce it too much the sauce really loses it's punch, becoming a bit bland.  

Carolina Pulled Pork is often requested by my husband and freezes wonderfully for those nights when he asks for it, but I haven't thought ahead.  On our recent vacation, bowls of this pork were frozen along with our Mexican Casserole for our Feast in the Desert.  Thawed in the fridge and warmed in the microwave or on the stove it makes for an easy, portable dish that is always well received.  My husband has even used the pork in spiced up quesadillas for a quick, tasty lunch.  

Carolina Pulled Pork Sandwich
looted from a dentist's office magazine
We prefer to double this sauce~

¼ cup butter
1 - 2 large onions, chopped
3 -5 cloves garlic, pressed
1 Tbs mustard (recipe calls for powdered, but I use dijon if I don't have powdered on hand!)
1 Tbs paprika (I use 1½ tsp sweet + 1½ tsp hot)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp cayenne pepper
2 cups ketchup
3 Tbs brown sugar
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
2 cups water
1 tsp salt
1 whole 5 lb pork roast
soft buns

Place pork roast in a crock pot, cover with water and cover with the lid.  Cook until pork is very tender and falls apart when pulled with a fork.

In a large pot melt butter.  Add onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and cook for 1 additional minute.  Add mustard, paprika, cumin and cayenne;  cook for 1 minute.  Add ketchup, sugar, vinegar and water.  Simmer, covered for about 30 minutes.  Uncover and simmer for 30 minutes more.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  (Can be made 2 days ahead;  refrigerate, covered.  Heat before using.)

After the pork is cooked, place in a large bowl.  Shred.  Add sauce and mix until combined.  Spoon heaping amounts onto toasted buns and watch for smiles of pleasure!! 

Note:  I usually double the sauce as we prefer our pork to be "saucy". 


  1. I love pulled pork sandwiches. Since my mom made them for us growing up, they are a comfort food for me. This recipe sounds delicious, thanks for sharing!

  2. My dad tried to make pulled pork about a year and a half ago and it didnt turn out very good. The sauce just wasn't doing it for me. I'll def have to try this out since you've promised it isn't too vinegary ;)

  3. Great recipe for tailgating, I will bookmark this, thanks!

  4. Pulled pork sandwiches are one of my favorites! I love your recipe for them :)

  5. This is new to me! Now I'll have something new and good to try out! Thanks for sharing!

  6. It sounds perfect! I love that certain recipes are saved and become a household favorite! Thanks for sharing.

  7. This looks so good I can hardly even look away!! I loved pulled pork sandwiches!

  8. I don't eat meat...but these look so good that I could easily polish off one (maybe two!) I crave pulled pork so badly!

  9. I love that you stole the recipe from the waiting room. So naughty. I wanted to with a couple of recipes I saw at the library but that seemed to mean, at a doctor's office I could definitely do though. :-) And it looks fabulous. I love, love, love pulled pork. I have a version that I make with hard cider and it is SO good.

  10. Mmmm...this sandwich looks delish. Congrats on Top 9!

  11. I am a huge pulled pork fan. I have had good pulled pork and I have had terrible pulled pork. This looks excellent.

    I am a ketchup fan too. Have been for a long time. I make my own spicy ketchup and my son thinks of it as a veggie side dish sometimes.

    I have to try this. It looks so delicious.

  12. You're on a roll! Congrats on another great Top 9!

  13. So I'm a little behind on comments but I'm still here! Wishing you a congrats on the Top 9 and I love this pulled pork. This looks amazing...great pair with the Fire Rock!

  14. Congrats! is this 2 days in a row?

    Ironically i wanted to make pulled pork sandwich but couldnt find an easy recipe! but now i have this one! thanks!

  15. Sprinkled with Flour, you're welcome. I wholeheartedly agree about the comfort food aspect. Nothing better than the pork/bun combo!

    BB, I hope you like it! I've had a few that were far to vinegary for me as well. When I first made this I reduced the vinegar, but ended up adjusting to the full amount.

    Patty, perfect for tailgating!!! :)

    Baking Serendipity, thanks! We love it too!

    Gran, hope you like it! This is another recipe that is requested around our neighborhood.

    Adelina, tried and true, always a good one!

    Ravie, Kelsey & Trish, thanks!

    Monet, I think that's the biggest compliment ever!! :)

    Kelly, I think it's the only one I've ever actually ripped out of the book... I did feel guilty for a while, but I'm over it!!

    4eva, have yo posted your ketchup? I'll have to look for that!!

    Jean, thanks!

    Dionne, thank you! I agree... the sandwiches are better with the beer!

    Patrick, yep! Never thought that would happen! Pretty darn exciting!! I hope you enjoy them. Report back with your thoughts!!

  16. Being from central Carolina, my native pulled pork (although there it's not called pulled pork, but just barbecue) has no mustard or brown sugar. It's vinegar and pepper. I've never mastered how to do it at home, but I keep trying.

  17. Ketchup? My grandpa was from East Carolina - so his beloved (and dearly missed) pork recipe calls for apple cider vinegar, crushed red pepper and Tabasco - I like your version though!

    And somehow, I am a mustard person, but produced a daughter who loves ketchup - even on her eggs!

  18. love that you found this recipe in a dentist's office! What a gorgeous sandwich.


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