Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Pulled Pork Sandwiches (1 of 5) Pulled Pork Sandwiches (2 of 5)

Since I finished Molly Wizenberg’s A Homemade Life, I’ve been reading Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist. I received the book as a sweet, out-of-the-blue gift from my Mother-in-Law last week, curing me of my post-really-good-book-anxiety. It’s a thing, trust me. While the book isn’t striking quite the same chord that A Homemade Life did, it’s full of truths about life and- what’s especially sticking out to me- friendship.

I could say a million mushy, cliche things about the four ladies I call my “best” friends. Seriously. Each one deserves a post (or three) of their own. Not only because they’ve tolerated me for the last (almost) ten years, but because they are each such truly incredible people. We’ve lived life together through grueling college sports schedules, roommate disputes, breakups, love, loss, home buying, baby making and the rise and fall of the Portland Trailblazers.

“We don’t learn to love each other well in the easy moments. Anyone is good company at a cocktail party. But love is born when we misunderstand one another and make it right, when we cry in the kitchen, when we show up uninvited with magazines and granola bars, in an effort to say, I love you.”

We’ve almost always been pretty good at being friends. We have stuff in common, we like spending time together and we make an effort to participate in each other’s lives. But in the last year or so, something has just clicked and our friendships have all of a sudden, gotten all mature and stuff. Things are getting real, and I like it. Maybe it’s the baby-having that’s been going on; hormones and big life experiences have a tendency to encourage soul-baring. Whatever it is, I’m extraordinarily grateful for it.

For the hours spent with morning breath and greasy hair, holed up in vacation rental last fall, too busy talking and sharing to leave the house. For weekday walks and baby-holding and confessing our crap. For the text chain that spreads the moment someone needs prayer. For the cards that show up in the mail with beloved handwriting and precious encouragements. For the unselfish enthusiasm shared when something good happens. For the last few gatherings, where all five of us end up tucked in to the dining room table, getting deep and going straight for the real stuff. Ignoring whatever sporting event is on in the background, snuggling noisy kids and taking our turns spilling our guts.

When I stop to think about it, I can’t believe that I have relationships like these in my life. We’re not perfect. We still worry about what the others think of us. We still fret that we are too much, or not enough. We still apologize for our lack of this, or that. But at the end of the day, phone call or Superbowl party, we look into each other’s eyes and say, “Love you.” And we mean it.

Last Sunday was nothing special. There was no game, event or occasion. We gathered, we ate, and we all talked so much we left completely uncertain of what our husbands were up to the whole time. Nothing special, but everything I didn’t know I needed at the same time. An afternoon with those girls can cure just about any ill I could muster up. On top of it all, we ate a wicked chocolate cake that made me swoon, and my very favorite pulled pork sandwiches.

Pulled pork sandwiches are one of those things that I never liked before I made them myself. Not to say that mine are the most amazing thing ever, but making them myself eliminates the issues I had with them in the first place. Stringy meat drowning in barbeque sauce. Soggy, over-mayonnaised coleslaw. Dry, chalky buns. Blech.

My version, which I made this fall for Schoolhouse School, is fresh, clean, and made from scratch. I highly recommend making your own buns, though I can’t share the recipe I use because it belongs to a pastry friend of mine. Here’s a pretty similar option. Nothing beats homemade buns. I also highly recommend adding a healthy chunk of avocado to your sandwich to smooth things out a bit, since the pork isn’t quite as soupy as some. Pile on the slaw and dive in. These sandwiches are best with a group of beloved friends gathered round, kettle chips stacked high and nothing but time to chat and listen.

β€œThe heart of hospitality is about creating space for someone to feel seen and heard and loved. It’s about declaring your table a safe zone, a place of warmth and nourishment.”

Thanks for making any table, any where, any time, feel safe, warm and full. I love you people.

Pulled Pork Sandwiches (3 of 5)

Fresh & Clean Slaw
This makes A LOT of slaw. Share with friends.
Ingredients
  • 1/2 head red cabbage, shredded
  • 4-5 medium carrots, grated
  • 1 granny smith apple, shredded
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds, toasted
  • 3 limes, zested & juiced
  • 1 pt. (2 cups) plain greek yogurt
  • olive oil
  • s&p
Instructions
  1. Shred cabbage, peel & grate carrots, core and grate apple and chop cilantro. Combine veggies and cilantro.
  2. Toast sesame seeds for about 30 seconds in a dry pan on the stove.
  3. Add to mix.
  4. Zest and juice 3 limes into the yogurt. Add about 1/2 tsp of olive oil and combine.
  5. Mix dressing into salad and make sure everything is coated evenly. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

 

Pulled Pork Sandwiches (4 of 5)

Black Butte Braised Pork Butt
Serves: 12-14
This pork shoulder is braised in my favorite beer of all time, Deschutes Brewery’s Black Butte Porter. You can use any dark beer, but I highly recommend this one. This recipe also makes A LOT, but braised pork freezes like a dream.
Ingredients
  • 1 pork shoulder, 6-8 lbs.
  • 2-3 cups chicken stock
  • Sea Salt & Pepper
  • 3 bottles of Black Butte Porter
  • 1 bunch rosemary
  • 1 bunch thyme
  • 2 dried chilies
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 2 carrots
Instructions
  1. Rub pork shoulder with salt and pepper. Sear in a stock pot until all sides are lightly browned.
  2. Add onion, carrot, rosemary, thyme and chilies.
  3. Cover with beer and chicken stock. If a little of the pork sticks out, it’s ok. You just want the majority of it covered.
  4. Braise overnight (12-14 hours), covered, in a 250 degree oven.
  5. Remove pork from the braising liquid and separate fat from meat. Pull with forks until desired consistency.
  6. Serve warm or room temperature.
  7. Freeze in small ziplocs with some of the braising liquid added in to retain moisture.

 

Pulled Pork Sandwiches (5 of 5)

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