It was "tailgate" day for my 10-year-old son's youth football team, and it was my turn to bring a "main dish."
The longtime tradition of breaking bread each Tuesday evening with team members, coaches and parents after the West Catholic Crusaders wrap up practice for the evening is wonderful. But it does involve some thought and planning.
Brownie desserts or drink duty are much more simple. The challenge for a main dish, though, is coming up with something unique from the typical hot dogs or sloppy joes, that is easily transported to the side of a football field to be served from a folding table and that can be a crowd pleaser for both hot, grimy kids as well as the parents who have been watching practice for an hour and a half.
Slow-cooked pulled pork sandwiches, above, are a great main dish for tailgate parties. You can put it on to simmer during the day, below, then take it to an evening get-together.
Add to that the fact that I was charged with preparing and transporting a meal after an eight-hour work day, and I knew I had my work cut out for me.
Then it hit me.
The reaction I had received from a recent recipe and column I wrote last month about slow-cooked barbecue spare ribs helped me to realize if that many readers were that excited about barbecued pork, why not expand on the recipe with slow-cooked pulled pork sandwiches?
Slow-cooked pulled pork sandwiches
Pork tenderloin roast, thawed
1 / 4 cup of Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 1 / 2 cups barbecue sauce, divided
Place thawed pork tenderloin roast (or boneless pork shoulder) in a slow cooker. Add enough water to cover the bottom of the slow cooker pot. Spread Dijon mustard and half of the barbecue sauce on the roast, saving the remaining half for later.
Sprinkle the roast with the rest of the ingredients. Cover. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.
Shortly before serving, open the lid and using two forks, shred the meat into strands. Work inside the slow cooker but be careful not to get burned. The meat should be tender enough that it should shred easily.
After shredding, add the remaining barbecue sauce and stir so the pork is well-covered with the sauce.
Re-cover and cook for another 20 to 30 minutes.
Serve on buns.
Makes about 8 sandwiches.
I dropped a tenderloin pork roast and a few quick ingredients into my Crock Pot in the morning and allowed it to simmer all day. After work I quickly shredded the meat, added a bit more barbecue sauce, and I was on my way.
It seemed like a perfect choice for the tailgate event. As it turned out, the team agreed. The serving dish emptied within minutes.
Now, I just need to come up with an equally popular side dish idea for next week's tailgate.