Day Twenty One: Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Nectarine Bourbon BBQ Sauce

21 Feb

One of the things I love most about pork is how perfectly it goes with fruit, and how versatile these applications can be.  In fact, the next three dishes I’m making for the challenge involve fruit in some manner. Fruit and meat is such a great combination – the fruit adds a little something you can’t find elsewhere. Another thing I love that can be mixed up a million different ways? BBQ sauce. And how convenient that the two go so nicely together.

I am by no means a bbq sauce master, and I really have only one sauce down pat (which I’ll use in a recipe somewhere down the road). But I do love playing around with flavors and trying new versions, like this one with dried nectarines. I’ve never had a dried nectarine before, only apricots and peaches, but we received a nice bag of them in our recent CSA box. It was such a random addition, so I knew I had to work them in some pork dishes. Right when I opened the box, I couldn’t wait to try one of these. Turns out they are REALLY dried – so much so that you can’t really just eat them like you would other dried fruits. Thus, I realized I needed to soak them real good in some sort of liquid in order to use them. Hmmmmm, what should I use? Oh, yes, bourbon of course.

I’m not against using ketchup in a bbq sauce, but I just don’t think it is necessarily a “universal” ingredient in all tomato-based bbq sauce recipes. It can be too sweet sometimes, in my opinion. I guess there are times when I just want to start from a blank slate so I can sweeten it to my own taste.  So I use tomato paste to achieve the rich tomato base without the added sugar/sweetness (other than what naturally occurs in the tomato itself).

The recipe below worked out beautifully. So many great flavors that melted together. The consistency was nice and thick and tasted quite fresh and homemade, just the way I like it. The sauce hits you in waves – first, you get the tartness from the vinegar; next, another layer of tart, but sweet, from the nectarines; then, you get the smokeyness from the chili powder; and lastly, the heat from the cayenne. SO good.

The nectarines aren’t standing out like a sore thumb, but rather melt right into the sauce – at first, you don’t really know what that flavor is, but you eventually figure it out. The bourbon does get a bit lost, but that can easily be rectified by added more and more, of course.

I highly recommend trying this one out – delicious, comforting and satisfying.

Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Nectarine Bourbon BBQ Sauce

  • 1/3 cup dried nectarines
  • 3 tbsp bourbon
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1/4 of an onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp soy sauce (or wheat-free tamari)
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • cayenne pepper, to tast
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 lb pork shoulder
  • Hamburger buns, or other rolls

Chop the dried nectarines and soak in 2 tbsp bourbon for about 30 to 40 minutes.

Drizzle some olive oil in a saucepan and heat over medium high heat. Add the onions and brown. Add the remaining ingredients (except the last tbsp of bourbon) and simmer for about 15 minutes. When done, cool for about 10 minutes then transfer to a food processor and puree. Add the final tbsp of bourbon and stir.

Place pork shoulder in a crockpot and add some of the sauce, just enough to coat the outside of the pork. Cook on low for about 6 to 8 hours, until very tender. Shred the pork and add the rest of the bbq sauce, stirring to incorporate.

Spread butter on both halves of the buns/rolls and broil until melted and browned. Top with pulled pork and any additional toppings you’d like (I used a simple coleslaw).


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