Although I usually keep it pretty light here; if you’ve read this blog long enough you’ll know that sometimes something will get under my skin and I will use this space to howl at the moon. I recently noticed some grumbling about the quality of food blogs based on one person’s criteria which for her was the lack of quality ‘food writing’ and I really want to know…who the heck is making up the rules for food blogs and even more importantly? Who is the ultimate judge and jury? These Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Apricot Bourbon Barbecue Sauce are on this blog today for one reason and one reason only. I made them. I loved them. I wanted to remember them and share them with others. Guess that’s more than one, oops! They do evoke for me some memories of the south I loved and why I’ve put coleslaw on them, but North Carolinian’s would have my head for putting a tomato based sauce on pork so there is no story there. Hmm, what else could there be so that I could share this fabulous sandwich? Where’s the story, morning glory?
For me, there isn’t always a story; a drama that ties the food into some aspect of my life’s history and I know I’m not alone. The impetus for the website I started with just recipes way back in 1995 has morphed into this blog that I manage today. I really love to cook. It is an extension of my creative nature and I thought putting recipes online would be a great way to catalog and share the results of the dishes I made. As efforts to satisfy my own needs took flight and readers began to enjoy that effort, it became a space to not just share a recipe but often to share a tidbit of life; the history of the recipe, the reason for making it…whatever.
There is no doubt that the capability for readers today to leave comments has added an element that can’t be disregarded and this effort is most definitely improved with the notion that people are reading, enjoying, communicating and yes, even making the dishes I love.
Want a bite?
Most often it’s an easy effort for me to make something that sounds good; years of cooking and reading and trial and error make experimentation a given and that part is fun. I have learned to love the photography part too but I’ll admit, the writing part is a job and if I’m honest not one I totally enjoy. It’s not that I suffer from writers block or find it hard (I might have even majored in English!!), it’s just not something I crave like ‘writers’ do especially when my primary focus is to share a recipe and I offer no apologies for my personal bent.
The Internet is such a hugely creative space and I love and appreciate those that so willingly share the bounty of their experience but in that, I would hope that those that write blogs for other reasons would not find fault with mine or with others who do what we do simply because we love the culture of food; the preparing of it, the sharing of it and of course the eating of it! I don’t spend hours trying to memorialize a recipe with the perfect experience or even the most perfect of adjectives. I’m not here to write a story filled with someone else set of rules; I’m simply sharing a recipe. For me I rather imagine you are sitting at the counter in my kitchen, sipping from a cup of coffee or even a cocktail and we’re chatting during the process. If I wanted to write a short story I could and I would but I don’t.
I still don’t know who is making up those rules but I do know this. For this blog the ultimate judge and jury are you, the readers. If you prefer that I wax poetic and create a short story with every post that is published about the food I make then you’ll probably decide to not stick around and I get that; your needs are better met by someone who enjoys that process more than I do.
That being said? You might want to stick around just long enough to lick this page…wait, wait…I meant print this page! I know I have a reputation when it comes to putting booze into food and I’m OK with that. That single addition often elevates something that would already be good to great status. Funny; I love my fun cocktails but I most often use bourbon for cooking; there is something about it that just melds so nicely with so many flavors. Cakes, breads and ice creams are elevated whether vanilla or chocolate based and I find that conjuring up a barbecue sauce almost requires it!
This sauce is actually courtesy of Fine Cooking; I saw them tweet a recipe the other day for Ribs with an Apricot Bourbon Sauce; of course my eyes popped out of my head…you just know that’s calling MY name, right? I made some slight revisions but I think good ones…just a bit more of the apricot jam and the addition of some molasses. I really love the combination of sweet, spicy and a teeny bit of heat that is the end result. I could absolutely eat this sauce with a spoon; however, adding it to slow cooked, shredded pork resulted in an ‘Oh My’ moment for sure. Enjoy this with or without the coleslaw (my very favorite with just a bit of horseradish) but I just love the combination of the two. It really does take me back a bit to somewhere southern so I can’t help myself; Hey Y’all…how y’all doin?
For the Coleslaw
- 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1 Tbsp whole grain mustard
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- 1 Tbsp horseradish
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- Package of coleslaw mix (One of my few Sandra Lee moments but SO convenient!)
For the Pork
- 2-3 lb pork tenderloin
- 2 cans of Dr. Pepper (I had it so I used Diet Dr. Pepper)
For the sauce
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 2 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 large jar (18 oz) apricot preserves
- 1 cup (12 oz jar) Heinz chili sauce
- 2 Tbsp molasses
- 1/2 cup plus 1 Tbs. bourbon
- 1/3 cup cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 2 Tbsp mustard (Dijon, spicy or wholegrain preferably)
- 1/2 - 1 medium serrano or jalapeño chile, seeded and finely chopped
To Make the Coleslaw:
- Mix all ingredients except the coleslaw mix with a whisk until smooth.
- Put coleslaw mix in a large mixing bowl; pour on the dressing and mix well to combine. Chill for at least an hour before serving..
To Make the Pork:
- Put the tenderloin into a crock-pot and cover with the Dr. Pepper. Cook on low for 7-8 hours. (I wanted to cook mine overnight so did it on the lowest setting of warm for 10 hours.
- Remove from the crockpot and dispose of the Dr. Pepper. Allow to cool a bit until it can be handled.
- Put the meat on a cutting board and using 2 forks, shred the meat, Start by putting your forks in the center and pull them both to the outer edge of the meat; It should come apart easily; if it does not, it needs to be cooked longer.
To Make the Sauce:
- Melt the butter in a 3 qt heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the chopped onions and saute for at least 5 minutes until they start to brown.
- Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, approximately 1 minute.
- Add the remainder of the ingredients except for 1 Tbsp of bourbon. Cook for 20-30 minutes on low until well blended and thickened. Remove from heat and add the remaining Tbsp of bourbon. Mix well.
- Cool slightly and add to the shredded pork. Depending on how much pork you have, you may have extra sauce; store any extra in fridge.
To Prepare the Sandwich:
- Layer pork and sauce on a fresh bun, top with a big spoonful of coleslaw and top with top of hamburger bun. Serve with additional slaw and chips.