I can’t believe this post ended up buried in the bottom of my “To Post” pile. It’s been 3 months and this recipe was too good to be lost for that long! The family reunion was at the start of summer. Fall begins in a couple of days, but I still remember that delicious pulled pork slathered with rhubarb sauce and zesty cole slaw like it was yesterday. Ok, last week.
In June every year we have the Thompson family reunion at my Dad’s house in central Minnesota. It’s a day of food and often games and of course lots of talking and catching up. We celebrate my Dad’s birthday which is usually within a day or two of Father’s Day, so it is a handy time to get together for many reasons.
Last year my sister Dawn was in charge, so this year she designated me as the organizer. I chose what food I would make and let them fill in the side dishes and desserts. We really did a great job, but we are known for our elaborate feasts when we all put our kitchen skills together. We take our food events very seriously.
I chose to make a pot of pulled pork, topped with a rhubarb sauce and a crisp and creamy lime and cilantro cole slaw on a bun. I knew we had 2 huge pork roasts in the freezer and now would be a good time to thaw them, since they were stuck together anyway.
The first problem was that even though I had reminded my P.S. (Pork Supplier/hubby), he did not take the roasts out in time to thaw. Oops. He admitted it was his fault and dashed off to the grocery store to talk to his favorite butcher. He found us two huge roasts and a nice chunk of change later we owned two more large pork roasts, these thawed and ready.
I seared all sides of the roasts in my large skillet. They barely fit, but I did get them seared.
I placed the roasts side by side in a large flat pan I have and seasoned them, added about a cup of water to the bottom, and covered them with foil. I set the timer for 2 hours, just for a checkup. I knew they’d take about 3 ½ hours at 375°F.
At 2 hours I did a very stupid thing. I pulled the rack out of the oven so fast the juices splashed ALL OVER the bottom of my oven, the door, and the floor. Ouch! Nobody was injured besides my oven, but what a mess! The roasts had yielded up so much liquid they were swimming in an overflowing pool.
Next task: put each roast in a separate 9×13 pan. I put a little of the liquid in the bottom of each pan and covered them with foil. Back into the oven they went. I poured the juices from the large pan into a container and let it cool. I’d be dealing with it later.
The roasts were perfectly done after 3 ½ hours in the oven. The internal temperatures were around 195°, the temperature I prefer when doing pulled pork or beef. The connective tissues and fat are melted away and into the meat and it is tender and moist.
I let the roasts cool for an hour so I could use my hands to pull it into shreds. I use a fork and some fingers. I talked my P.S. into doing the second roast and he capably used 2 forks. It must be me. I gotta get my fingers right into the business. It was a lot of pork to pull, and we ended up with 3 of the Ziploc shoe box storage containers full.
I poured some of the pork juices into the containers to keep the meat moist, allow it to absorb back some of its own delicious drippings. I refrigerated the containers and they were ready to pack into a cooler for travel the next day.
I also did some prep work for the Cole slaw. I wanted to mix it at the last minute so that it still had a crunchy texture in the pulled pork sandwiches. I just needed to slice the cabbage very finely, in pieces that wouldn’t hang out all over the sandwich.
I also mixed up the dressing and put it into a container for tossing into the cabbage before serving.
My final prep work was to get rhubarb from my mother in law. She is always happy to share her major crop of rhubarb with me. Back home, I washed and diced it and put it into a pan with a little water. I’d found the recipe on Dinner with Julie’s site. She has so many recipes I want to try and this rhubarb sauce recipe was very timely.
I brought the rhubarb to a boil then turned the heat down to simmer for several minutes. I deviated from Julie’s directions by using a second pan to fry the onions in a little oil then added the rest of the ingredients and stirred well. I poured the contents of the skillet into the saucepan and let it simmer for about 20 minutes, until it had thickened somewhat.
I used my immersion blender to puree the sauce then let it cool. Once cool I put it into handy pouring bottles with snap lids and refrigerated it.
We packed everything in one big cooler to travel to my Dad’s house, about 4 hours away. The other cooler was filled to the brim with beverages, both adult and regular. I also brought along my largest crockpot to heat the pulled pork. I had my food part almost done.
The food was a success. Besides my pulled pork buns, my sister Linda brought a pink fluff salad and a jalapeno popper dip with chips. My sister Dawn bought a huge variety of fresh veggies and dip, along with two Mexican dips in cups and chips for dipping. My daughter Emily brought potato salad and a new radish salad. My brother Roger brought a Caprese salad with a balsamic vinaigrette that I loved. Everyone brought desserts for later as well.
Much food, much more laughing, and the annual family reunion was over. I heard reports later that everyone laughed and discussed the crazy fun we had on a photo scavenger hunt all the way home. A few days later I compiled the pictures into a slide show of each group’s findings and burnt them to dvds for each family.
Back to the pulled pork. We put it into the crockpot on low and reheated it for the 1 pm buffet. I’d normally have put the sauce right into the crockpot but several family members would rather add it themselves. I had the sauce in containers next to the crockpot and the cole slaw. I provided large Kaiser buns and they made their own sandwiches.
Next year Linda is up for the organizing and I’m relieved to be done with my reign of culinary chaos. Heh.
Pulled Pork with Rhubarb Sauce
Pork roast; I made about a pound per person which was more than enough
Cumin, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper
1 cup of water
Large Kaiser Buns
Cilantro Lime Cole Slaw (previously posted using broccoli; substitute thinly slice cabbage)
Rhubarb Barbecue Sauce (recipe below)
Season roast(s) with above seasonings as desired. Roast in 375°F oven until thermometer registers 195°F. Let cool until can be handled with fingers if desired. Or use forks to pull apart meat into strips. Store with some of the juices.
Reheat in slow cooker for several hours on low and remove meat from slow cooker with tongs. Place on buns, cover with rhubarb sauce, top with Cole slaw.
Rhubarb Barbecue Sauce
(This is for a single recipe. I doubled the recipe)
2 cups rhubarb; chopped
3/4 cup water
1 onion; finely chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, crushed (I used a teaspoon of minced garlic from a jar)
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup pure maple or golden syrup (I used maple syrup)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar (I used light brown sugar)
1/4 cup apple cider or rice vinegar (I used apple cider- I wanted the stronger vinegar taste)
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 Tablespoon grainy mustard (I used a grainy Dijon)
In a medium saucepan bring the rhubarb and water to a boil and reduce to simmer. Cook for 5-6 minutes until the rhubarb is very soft
In a nonstick skillet heat a drizzle of oil over medium-high heat and cook the onion for 3-4 minutes, until soft; add the garlic and cook for another minute or two.
Add the contents of the skillet and the remaining ingredients to the saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cook for 10-15 minutes until the mixture thickens.
Puree with an immersion blender or cool and puree in a blender or food processor until smooth.
Use as a barbecue sauce on meats and also great on a salad.