You gotta love the holidays. Bob and I splurged on smoked turkey, cornbread dressing, hot rolls topped with cranberry relish (my favorite!) and more than our share of absolutely decadent desserts with no thought of calories for days. But enough already! If we continue eating like this, I'll have some real splainin' to do at my next Wii Fit workout ("No, Lucy you can't be in the show!").
Time for something light and healthy like these 398-calorie Slow-Roasted Pulled Pork Sandwiches from Cooking Light's The New Way to Cook Light (Oxmoor House, October 2012, $34.95), which just happen to taste fantastic. After being rubbed with a blend of dark brown sugar, chipotle chili powder and other smoky spices, the pork is baked for hours on low, low heat until it's so moist and tender it simply falls apart.
Slow-Roasted Pork Ready to Pull
Later, it's topped with a tangy, homemade barbeque sauce that's quite a bonus when you're addicted to condiments like me!
I tried this recipe a few weeks before Christmas on a day I was busy wrapping presents. Inspired by the thought of using my chipotle chili powder again, I made my first pork roast (it's only taken me 55 years). However, instead of using a 5-pound, boneless pork shoulder (Boston butt) as instructed, I picked up a 7-pound, bone-in version figuring I'd save the bone to flavor a big pot of red beans (pintos if you're not from Texas) later. Yum!
Pork Roast Rubbed with a Blend of Brown Sugar and Smoky Spices
You need a big chunk of time ... actually about 10 hours ... to complete the process but don't let that get in the way of making these any-night delights. They're more than worth the wait and most of the time is spent hands-off babysitting the slow-roasting meat. The hardest part is trimming any fat from the pork.
After that, you mix the dark brown sugar and spices, rub them all over the pork, let it sit at room temperature about an hour, then put it in the oven to bake. There's a little basting with a cider vinegar-ketchup combo; otherwise, you're mainly enjoying the aroma and watching the clock until time to shred the meat and make the yummy barbeque sauce. So I was able to wrap up my Christmas chores before our dinner was done.
As a heads up, hopefully, you're smarter than me and will read the full recipe before you begin. I know I always should do that but I was in a hurry and didn't notice that I needed a roasting pan with a rack until I had the meat prepped. Too bad, there was no rack (remember, I was a roasting virgin) anywhere in my kitchen. Oh well, there's always next time!
Trust me there will be one because this idea was a real hit with my hubby. Bob was nibbling, saying how much the meat reminded him of his favorite pork ribs, before I shredded it for the sandwiches. Layering a little mustard, some pickle relish, that prize pork and the DIY barbeque sauce on hamburger buns and serving it with sweet potatoe fries put us both in heaven.
Lucky for me, this recipe makes a lot more (16 servings total) than the two of us could finish in one sitting. Even better, it freezes well so unless you have a very hungry crowd, you're assured a head start on repeating this so-sensational-you'd-never-guess-it's-healthy treat.
Hope you enjoy this Cooking Light creation as much as we did. Let me know what you think in the comments section below.
Slow-Roasted Pulled Pork Sandwiches
Serves 16 (serving size: 1 sandwich); Hands-on time: 12 minutes;
Total time: 9 hours; 48 minutes
· 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
· 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
· 1 tablespoon chili powder
· 2 teaspoons ground cumin
· 1 teaspoon salt
· 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
· 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
· 1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle chile pepper
· 1 (5-pound) boneless pork shoulder (Boston butt), trimmed
· Cooking spray
· 2 cups water, divided
· 1/2 cup cider vinegar
· 1/3 cup ketchup
· 3/4 cup cider vinegar
· 1/2 cup ketchup
· 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
· 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
· 1 teaspoon chili powder
· 16 (1.5-ounce) whole-wheat hamburger buns
· 32 pickle chips
To prepare pork, combine the first 8 ingredients in a small bowl. Rub sugar mixture evenly over pork. Let pork stand at room temperature 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 225.
Place pork on the rack of a roasting pan coated with cooking spray. Pour 1 cup water in bottom of roasting pan. Place rack in pan. Bake at 225 for 1 hour.
Combine 1/2 cup vinegar and 1/3 cup ketchup in a medium bowl; brush pork with ketchup mixture (do not remove from oven). Bake an additional 3 hours, basting every hour with ketchup mixture.
Pour remaining 1 cup water in bottom of roasting pan. Cover pork and pan tightly with foil. Bake an additional 3 hours and 45 minutes or until a thermometer registers 190. Remove from oven; cover and let stand 45 minutes.
To prepare sauce, combine 3/4 cup vinegar and next 4 ingredients (through 1 teaspoon chili powder) in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally with a whisk. Boil 5 minutes or until slightly thick. Shred pork with 2 forks. Spoon about 3 ounces pork on bottom half of each bun; drizzle with about 1 tablespoon sauce. Arrange 2 pickle slices over each sandwich; top each with top half of bun.
Nutrition Facts: Calories 398; Fat 17.5g (sat 5.9g, mono 7.3g, poly 2.4g); Protein 29.9g; Carb 30.2g; Fiber 3.8g; Chol 90mg; Iron 3.1mg; Sodium 727mg; Calcium 91mg
Recipe from the The New Way to Cook Light*
Authors: Cooking Light editors Scott Mowbray and Ann Taylor Pittman
Other Works: After 25 years, Cooking Light is one of the nation's leading gourmet publications. The magazine, its website and many cookbooks focus on great-tasting food that's healthy. Cooking Light recipes and nutrition advice are also available in a popular app, Cooking Light Quick and Healthy Menu Maker, as well as on Facebook, Twitter (@ Cooking_Light), Pinterest and Instagram.
Publisher: Oxmoor House
Penned: Oct. 16, 2012
What's Inside: More than 400 go-to recipes for making mouth-watering meals where nutrition is priority #1.
A must for your wish list, this impressive collection covers lightened appetizers (like Zesty Green Goddess Dip), healthful main dishes (make mine crunchy Crab Cakes with Spicy Remoulade), satisfying sandwiches (Chicken Parmesan Burgers flavored with marinara), how-can-spectacular-be-so-easy desserts (Fresh Cherry Galette, anyone?) and everything in-between. It also includes nine simple principles for cooking light the new way (start by embracing variety) and "Ah Ha"-worthy tips and techniques from the Cooking Light test kitchen (four steps to the best noodles ever!). Plus, you'll find around 200 gorgeous, color photos sure to inspire your menu choices.
Time Out: 512 pages
Available: Amazon and most book retailers
* Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.
Want another light alternative? Try:
Love FREE stuff? We've teamed up with Stubb's Legendary Bar-B-Q to give away a $30-value coupon bundle good for an assortment of their fast, smokehouse-flavored favorites. Click here for details on how to enter. Contest ends Aug. 21, 2014.
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