Whenever we find ourselves at an “American restaurant”…you know, the kind of restaurant that has nine-page menus, with burgers that have names like “The Flamin’ Texan,” and portion sizes to last you into next week…I invariably spend the first ten minutes there half-heartedly making small talk while I simultaneously moderate a heated debate within myself over what to get.
This nodding, smiling, and pretending to know what the conversation is about goes on until the waitress comes back, delivers the drinks, and begins to ask each person what they’d like to order. I start to panic, and then when the waitress is talking to the person three down from me, it gets real. Inevitably, I turn to my two standbys: the pulled pork sandwich and the barbecue-bacon cheeseburger. (Apparently, I have a thing for barbecued pork.)
I hem and haw, ask Eric, “What are you getting again?” for the fifth time, and then it’s my turn. Faced with asking the waitress to come back to me when everyone’s done…and risking the subtle eye rolls of those around me…I somehow commit, and it’s usually to the pulled pork.
Let’s face it: I haven’t met a pulled pork sandwich I haven’t liked. I mean, what’s better than slow-cooked pork, tender and shredded, piled between two soft buns and slathered in a sweet and tangy barbecue sauce?
This here pulled pork recipe isn’t fancy. There’s no super secret ingredient to the sauce, or frilly slaw to top it with. I didn’t make the buns at home, and I spent about fifteen minutes of prep time on these babies before throwing them in the crockpot.
But this recipe turns a cheap package of meat into tender, barbecued sandwich bliss. Slightly sweet from being cooked in apple juice and brown sugar (plus onions, garlic, salt & pepper…that’s it!), with a little tang from barbecue sauce, the meat from these country style ribs literally falls off the bone once done cooking and is happy and eager to hop between two buns to meet its sandwich destiny.
This is one of those recipes we make all the time, and the last time I was making it, I thought, “Why haven’t I put this on the blog?” I’ve bought country style ribs for as cheap as $1.80/lb., and in this recipe, a little meat makes several days’ worth of sandwiches for us.
So save yourself the public indecision, the sweaty palms gripping the menu in angst, and make these pulled pork sandwiches at home, where you can eat them in your pajamas, unseen by any judging eyes.
(recipe slightly adapted from About Southern Food )
(yields 6-8 servings)
Cooked slowly in the crockpot, surrounded by onions, garlic, brown sugar, and salt and pepper, these country style ribs come out to be perfectly tender pulled pork sandwich material. With only about 15 minutes of prep time, this recipe couldn't be more simple. I adapted the original recipe by adding more garlic, and upping the apple juice amount to cover more of the meat while cooking. And I often cooke these with bone-in ribs because I can find them cheaper, just taking the extra step to remove the bones once done cooking.
3 to 4 lbs. boneless OR 4-5 lbs. bone-in pork country-style ribs
1 large onion, halved, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 c. brown sugar, packed
app. 1 to 1 1/2 c. apple juice
1 bottle (16 to 18 ounces) barbecue sauce, about 1 1/2 cups + more for serving (we like Sweet Baby Ray's)
Buns for serving
Grease the crockpot with cooking spray.
Lay the onions in the bottom of the crockpot.
(Optional Step: Rinse the meat and pat dry. Remove excess fat. [I've skipped this step many times]).
Place the meat on top of the onions.
In a small bowl, mix together the garlic, salt, pepper, and brown sugar. Rub the mixture on the pork with your hands, turning to coat both sides.
Pour apple juice over the meat until it covers just over half of the meat. Place lid on crockpot and cook on LOW for 8 hours or until meat is falling off the bone, or is fork-tender.
Remove meat from crockpot (and discard bones if using; be careful to look for little bone pieces!) Discard the liquid and return meat to the crockpot.
Pour barbecue sauce over; mix to stir, and cook on low for an additional hour.
Serving suggestions: Serve meat on top of hamburger buns.
OR If your'e obsessed with grilled cheeses and paninis, like I am , place some meat between two slices of sturdy, buttered bread; sprinkle some grated cheddar on top, and fry them up until golden brown on both sides. Delicious!