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Pulled Pork with Mint Julep Barbecue Sauce

Pulled Pork with Mint Julep Barbecue Sauce
In the Carolinas, barbecue sauce is a subject of fierce debate. East Carolinians prefer a spicy vinegar-based blend, West Carolinians swear by a slightly sweet tomato-based sauce and South Carolinians favor mustard-based mixes. This sauce combines all three versions with the addition of bourbon and fresh mint.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bone-in pork shoulder, about 5 lb.
  • 2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tbs. salt
  • 1 Tbs. freshly ground pepper
  • 1 Tbs. yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 4 yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped

For the sauce:

  • 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 3 yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbs. peeled and chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 cups tomato puree
  • 3/4 cup dark molasses
  • 1/3 cup coarse-grain Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup bourbon
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1 tsp. Tabasco or other hot-pepper sauce
  • 12 sesame seed–topped sandwich buns,
     split and warmed
  • 12 dill pickle spears

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 300°F. Lightly coat a large roasting pan with vegetable oil.

Rub the pork shoulder with the pepper flakes, salt, pepper and mustard seeds and place in the pan. Pour the cider and vinegar over and around the pork. Scatter the onions, garlic and bell pepper over and around the pork. Cover with aluminum foil and roast for 3 hours. Uncover and continue to roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat, away from the bone, registers
180°F, about 1 hour more.

Meanwhile, make the sauce: In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onions and ginger and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato puree, molasses, mustard, bourbon, vinegar, Worcestershire, lemon, salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to very low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until very thick, about 2 hours. Discard the lemon slices. Stir in the mint and Tabasco.

Transfer the pork to a plate, reserving the roasted vegetables. Let stand for 1 hour. Using 2 forks, shred the pork by steadying the meat with 1 fork and pulling it away with the other, discarding any fat. Place the shredded pork in a bowl. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the roasted vegetables to the bowl with the pork.

Mix the sauce with the shredded pork. Stuff each bun with some of the pork and serve immediately, with the pickle spears on the side.
Serves 12.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma New American Cooking Series, The South, by Roy Overton (Time-Life Books, 2000).