The Challenge: Design, cook, and implement a dinner menu for a backyard wedding with 80 guests and a budget of $1000. Today we examine the best choice for a meat-main dish.
I’m feeling very excited about the wedding menu. Why? I’m returning to pulled pork as a main dish! I think this means the entire menu needs to go a little more bbq style. This will require a little menu re-working so everything fits with the pulled pork. But I’m good with that. I like a bbq style picnic. Plus, I endlessly debate over the menu just for having a few friends over of dinner, naturally a wedding menu requires a lot more debate and change.
To recap, since we haven’t talked about the wedding for a little while, I should mention we had been tossing around the idea of pulled pork as part of the menu for a little while. However, I was concerned about keeping it hot enough without purchasing expensive equipment. I think its horrible to serve food that should be hot, cold. Yuck. So I had settled on a spiral glazed ham which could be served at room temperature along with chicken salad, a layered ratatouille, potato salad, farm fresh pasta salad, white beans with tomato and rosemary, watermelon wedges, and bread. The bride is as un-bridezilla as can be, and was fine with menu choices either way, though she did have a preference for pulled pork.
Luckily, I decided to browse around and see if there was a decent and inexpensive way to keep food hot for the wedding. Much to my delight I discovered the Ostster Triple Buffet Server and Warming Tray (<–Affiliate link.) I haven’t purchased it yet but, I’m thinking I’ve got a winner here. The reviews are as a whole, are really positive. People say this thing can get hot enough to scorch your food if you aren’t careful! So certainly it should be able to keep food hot stead of ::shudders:: lukewarm. So, its back to pulled pork, which I really wanted to serve anyway! And as I mentioned Kyra (the bride) had particularly liked the idea of pulled pork. Of course we want the bride to enjoy the food at her own wedding!
I’ve made pulled pork for a casual dinner for family or a bbq with friends for years now. I’ve always like my recipe but, I did want to experiment and see if I could make it better still. After all it is going to be a main dish for a wedding now. My standard go to recipe calls for bbq sauce, spices, and green chilies. Just so you know, green chilies seriously work in pulled pork. They add a lot of flavor without necessarily being spicy. But, I wanted to add a bit more heat this time so I switched it up to jalapeños. You can add more or less depending on how much spice you want in the final dish.
I also decided to play with adding a sweet note to the recipe. I felt like this would balance out the heat. So… pineapple! It might sound a little strange yet, it works. As you cook the pork in the pineapple and its juice, the pineapple cooks right down and dissolve into the meat. At the end you get a touch of sweetness but, not too much. It contrasts nicely with the jalapeños.
I also added more of my usual pulled pork spices, cumin, coriander, and garlic, in this version, which makes for a bolder flavor. Soy sauce adds a hint of salt and subtly brings the umami flavor to the pork. Tomatoes, vinegar, and a little of brown sugar, which make up a traditional bbq sauce base, bring all the other ingredients together. We cook and cook and cook it all together for 6 to 8 hours preferable in a sealed pan in the oven though you can also use a crock pot. Everything melds together into a perfect sweet and spicy bbq sauce and the pork becomes so tender it falls right off the bone with the touch of a fork. (I usually use a bone in pork shoulder for my pulled pork. Though feel free to sub in a pork loin instead.) Pulled pork brilliance if I do say so myself. And I do!
Now that we have a brilliant batch of pulled pork, we must address the very pressing question: how should we serve it? Right on the plate with a heap of mashed potatoes is nice. Tacos. Inside a quesadilla works out mighty fine. Of course the traditional sandwich works as well. I personally am a big fan of the pulled pork sandwich method. Not to knock tacos or quesadillas either. Pulled pork is very versatile after all.
A sandwich, of course, means toasted buns or bread of your choice. (We always toast the bread so it doesn’t get soggy under our pork, right?) Your favorite burger buns, any nice rolls you have on hand or purchase at the store, or some big fat buttermilk bread all work well for this. King’s Hawaiian rolls are very nice if your going to make slider sided sandwiches.
The next component for a proper sandwich is coleslaw. Fortunately coleslaw is a five minute process to whip up if you use pre-shredded coleslaw veggies from the grocery store. It’s only a ten minute process if you chop your own cabbage, purple cabbage, and carrots. I figured I better share my coleslaw recipe today too, so you can properly top your pulled pork sandwich. You can always add additional bbq sauce or some of the juices right from the pan of pork.
Assemble by layering it all up and you’re set! Pork+slaw+ bread = complete meal right in a bun.
And with summer coming right up this is the perfect recipe to have on hand. Enjoy!
- large pork shoulder, about 8 lb.
- one large white or yellow onion, cut into slices
- 2 tablespoons powdered garlic
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1/2 tablespoon coriander
- 6 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1/2 to 1 whole can of jalapeños, 4oz
- 20 oz can chunks or crushed pineapple in juice
- 28 oz can diced tomatoes in juice
- 1/4 cup white vinegar
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- water as needed
- 1. Select a pan that has a tight fitting lid or can be sealed securely with tin foil. Place the onion slices on the bottom of the pan. Place the pork shoulder, fat side up on top of the onions.
- 2. Season the pork shoulder with the garlic powder, cumin, coriander and brown sugar. Spread the seasoning evenly over the meat.
- 3. Add the jalapeños, pineapple and juice, tomatoes and juice, vinegar, and soy sauce to the pan. Cover the pan or seal tightly with tin foil.
- 4. Set the oven to 350* and cook for 6-8 hours or until the meat will fall apart at the touch of a fork. The meat should be checked every two hours or so to ensure that plenty of moisture remains in the pan. Add water if needed to maintain moisture. Rotate the meat as needed when checking it periodically. The top of the meat will get very brown, even lightly black which is a good thing.
- 5. The meat may be done around 6 hours depending on the size of the pork shoulder used. If it is not tender enough to fall apart with the touch of a fork return the meat to the oven for an additional hour. When the meat is tender enough, use two forks to shred and remove the bone. Serve hot.
- This recipe works very well in the crock pot as well. Cook on high for six to eight hours or on low if the pork will be left over 8 hours.
- 1 bag of prepared coleslaw vegetable mix or the equivalent of chopped cabbage, carrots, and purple cabbage.
- 3/4 cup mayo
- 1/4 cup plain greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons of sugar
- 4 tablespoons white vinegar
- 2 teaspoons celery seed
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper + additional to taste
- salt to taste
- 1. In a large bowl whisk together mayo, greek yogurt, sugar, white vinegar, celery seed, garlic powder, and black pepper.
- 2. Add the prepared coleslaw vegetable mix or the equivalent of chopped vegetables to the bowl and mix well. Add salt and additional pepper to taste if desired. Cover and chill if not serving immediately.