Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Labor of Love: Pulled Pork BBQ Sammies & Chicken Pasta Salad

Pulled Pork Sammie

I was a little bit of a precocious child. I'd find something and when I decided to like it, I LOVED it and took it upon myself to become an expert. One year, my obsession became dolphins - bottlenose, spotted, spinner- it didn't matter, I loved them all. I put my little heart into scouring through encyclopedias, books about dolphins, reading and learning just about everything my developing brain could soak in.

Hey, I even went through a dolphin fashion phase where I would wear dolphin earrings to match my dolphin t-shirt and socks (somehow I made it through these years with friends). Well at some point during my research, I read that dolphins were unfortunately being caught in nets by tuna fisherman. From that day forward, I swore I would never eat tuna. And I didn't...until I was in my 20s and decided I LOVED eating tuna, not studying them. Thankfully, I believe fishing practices have also improved.

I similarly decided as a child that I would not drink milk at the tender age of 3. Later in my childhood, I simply would not and could not eat a pig. That day, at the age of 8, I swore off pork. The tuna and the milk were not such a huge deal in my family. However, swearing off meat in a carnivorous family does not go over well. For many years, my Mom (being the saint she is) would have to make me my own "special" dish while the rest of the family dined on beef and pork. We'd go out for Pizza Hut and while the rest of the family shared a Meat Lovers pie, I'd have to get my own cheese pizza. Faces would sour when they saw my barren pizza; my parents would often wonder where I came from!

Fast forward to many years later: I'm no longer a picky eater in the least bit. I'll try anything once though the last time I said this I ended up eating chicken feet and feeling a tad bit ill.

As you'll notice, most of my posts and cooking concentrates on desserts (for obvious reasons), chicken/poultry and seafood. Even though I am no longer picky, old habits die hard and I have never been much of a meat eater. I had my very first bites of steak when I met my husband.

Hubby should probably hang out with my family more often since he's also quite a carnivore. He has been more than patient, altering his diet to accommodate mine so that we can share dishes at restaurants and I don't need to cook him anything "special" that I wouldn't enjoy myself. Though I will say that I'm less than skilled at cooking pork or beef, I've made a conscious effort to try it out from time to time to be fair to his tastes. While the rest of the world is moving towards a vegetarian diet, I'm bucking the trend. I'm a quasi-wannabe vegetarian trying to eat more meat!

Pulled pork is one of my favorite 'compromises' and this recipe is beyond easy. I usually save it for nights I know that I'll be working late or unable to make a fancy dinner. Lean pork tenderloin goes into the slow cooker with a magic tenderizing ingredient...Root Beer! The first time I used this recipe, I was a little skeptical, but it has tasted great every time. After several hours of slow roasting, add your favorite bbq sauce (Sweet Baby Rays is best in my opinion) and allow to cook on low for another hour. Voila, you have wonderful slow roasted pulled pork! If you have more time, consider serving these with cole slaw on the top. It's also delicious on the mini Hawaiian rolls you can purchase at most groceries.

This may be my shortest & easiest (& tastiest) recipe to date. (check out those superlatives!) J

Pulled Pork BBQ Sammies
2 pounds pork tenderloin, trimmed
salt & pepper
1(12 oz) can of root beer
sweet onion, cut into 5 rings ½” wide (reserve remainder of onion for other use)
1 bottle Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ Sauce (or your favorite)
toasted kaiser buns, makes about 6-8 sandwiches depending on bun size

1. Rub salt and pepper into pork tenderloin, to taste.
2. Cover the bottom of the slow cooker with sliced onion rings, about 4-6. Place pork tenderloin on top of onions in slow cooker. Pour root beer over the pork, cover and cook on low until tender, about 5-6 hours.
3. Remove pork from the slow cooker and shred with a fork and knife. Drain half of the juice from the slow cooker and save onions in the juice.
4. Add pork back to slow cooker and pour bbq sauce over pork. Eyeball the amount to use based on how saucy you would like your pulled pork. Combine well and cook on low for an additional hour. Serve on toasted kaiser buns.

Chicken & Pasta Salad
adapted from Cooking Light
1 1/2 cups chopped red,yellow and orange bell pepper
1/2 cup frozen green peas, thawed
3/4 cup plain fat-free yogurt
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup light mayonnaise
2 teaspoons prepared mustard
1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 cups chopped cooked chicken breast (about 1 pound)
1 cup cooked tri color rotini pasta
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1. Combine the first 9 ingredients in a medium bowl. Add the chopped cooked chicken, cooked pasta,and cheese and toss mixture well. Cover salad and chill 1 hour.

Print out the recipe here:

Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork

An easy and tasty way to make pulled pork. Perfect ...

See Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork on Key Ingredient.


LizNoVeggieGirl said...

I too used to be a SUPER picky-eater; and while I AM still quite monotonous with my food choices (if I love something, I want to eat it everyday - and usually do, haha), I am definitely more open to trying new things :0)

Anonymous said...

Oh I agree, the pulled pork and the root beer work well. I make a root beer BBQ sauce that is lovely and I'm sure this tastes just like it! Thanks for sharing this.

test it comm said...

Pulled pork simmered in root beer sounds really good.

La Bella Cooks said...

I have been coming across pulled-pork sandwich recipes for the past couple weeks! I am glad you tried one. I am such a carnivore it isn't even funny..."hand over the beef and no one gets hurt" kind of obsession at times. I will definitely be trying looks incredibly comforting.
I loved reading about your childhood obsessions. My son is like that as well but I love it. You were probably a sweet little girl.

grace said...

ya just had to throw in a chicken recipe, didn't ya? :)

seriously though, i don't eat much pork, but i can't resist good pork bbq. i've never had it cooked with root beer, but i'm enticed. smells like progress on your quest to eat more meat! :)

Elle said...

Both great looking recipes! The root beer intrigues me...I've done the ham in cola and that was good, so this one must be delicious!

Sharon said...

veggiegirl - I'm the say way. I'll go on a kick with something, eat it everyday and then decide I'm sick of it! I did this with blueberries last summer. Sometimes, I'm so strange :)

noble pig - Root Beer BBQ sauce sounds delish! I love condiments..esp BBQ sauce :)

Kevin - Thanks! Definitely give it a try.

Bridgett - It's definitely a comfort food. I love eating it with coleslaw but I was too lazy to make it this time.

Grace - pulled pork is one of the only ways that I like pork! Good point about the chicken recipe :) I actually tried using chicken with this root beer recipe and it was only OK.

Elle - Ham in cola? I'm not sure where I've been hiding but I had no idea soda was such a versatile ingredient!

Larissa said...

Hey, Sharon! Nice to meet another recently-married Asian Southern Californian who likes to cook (we're like the exact same person!). Also, I love pulled pork too.

RecipeGirl said...

Root beer? That's funny. That one would have never occurred to me! I agree about Sweet Baby Rays- it's the best!

PS... my best friend was totally obsessed with dolphins when we were little!

Anonymous said...


I'm Sophie, Key Ingredient's Chief Blogger. We would like to feature your tasty Pulled Pork recipe on our blog. Please email if interested. Thanks :)


Adrianna said...

I'm trying this immediately. I even have Hawaiian sweet rolls in my cupboard to eat it with. Yes!