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Sunday, May 6, 2012

Lighter Pulled-Pork Sandwiches

I adore a pulled-pork sandwich topped with creamy coleslaw. The best one I've ever had is from Corolla Village Barbecue on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It's a tiny shack tucked away in the woods, but boy is it worth a stop. The smokey melt-in-your-mouth pork covered in tangy vinegar-based sauce tastes even divine sitting on a picnic table in a shade after a day at the beach. We also enjoy the pulled pork at Rocklands, our local barbecue place right here in Arlington.

Traditional pulled-pork sandwiches aren't too horrible for you, but pork shoulder can be high in fat, and I'm sure the sodium content is off the charts. I was a little skeptical about trying this lighter version but the recipe looked simple, and you can't really go wrong with shredded pork tenderloin.

Nick bought some jalapeno peppers to add to the coleslaw. I think this addition totally made the dish. It adds some heat and crunch to the coleslaw but is not overpowering because of the creamy mayo dressing. The pork is wonderfully tender, and the sauce has a light tang balanced by the sweetness of the brown sugar. The sauce has a bit more body than a traditional vinegar-based sauce which means it won't make your bun soggy.

First step is to make the barbecue sauce base. I used Dijon mustard, but you could also use spicy brown mustard if you have that on hand. Season it well with salt and pepper.

Bring the sauce to a boil. 

Add in the chunks of pork tenderloin.

Cover and simmer over medium-low heat.

Meanwhile, make the dressing for the coleslaw. Whisk the mixture together until smooth.

Add in the shredded cabbage (use the pre-shredded bagged coleslaw mix to save time) and the jalapenos. Mix it together with the dressing. Add more cabbage if you think you have too much dressing. Refrigerate the slaw to let the flavors meld. 

The pork will probably be ready to remove from the sauce once you are finished with the coleslaw. 

Simmer the sauce over medium heat until reduced. Mine was pretty thick by the time I turned off the heat. 

Shred the pork (I used my fingers) and then add it to the sauce. 

Take the slaw out of the fridge and begin to assemble your sandwiches. 

Serve the pork with some roasted sweet potato wedges to make it a hearty and healthy meal (great for the weekend when you have some extra time to make lunch or dinner). I think this sandwich might just hold me over until we head out to the Banks this summer. Thankfully it won't do too much damage to my waist line!

Lighter Pulled-Pork Sandwiches
Adapted from Everyday Food Light
Serves 4


  • 1 can (15 ounces) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon light or dark brown sugar
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon water
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 pork tenderloin (about one pound), cut into four pieces
  • 1/4 cup light mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cider vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seeds (I used herbes de provence)
  • 1/4 small head green cabbage, shredded (or you could use the bagged coleslaw mix to save time)
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
  • 4 whole wheat rolls, split

In a medium saucepan, stir together tomatoes, sugar, garlic, mustard, chili flakes, and 1/2 cup water; season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil; add pork, cover and simmer until tender, 20 to 22 minutes. Transfer pork to a plate to cool. Continue to simmer sauce (uncovered) over medium heat until reduced by half, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon vinegar, seeds or herbs, jalapeno, and remaining 1 tablespoon water; season with salt and pepper. Add cabbage, and toss to coat. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Shred pork with fingers or two forks, and return to sauce; stir in remaining teaspoon vinegar. Serve pork on rolls, topped with cabbage mixture.

Per Serving: 369 calories; 11.2 grams fat (2.5 grams saturated fat); 30.2 grams protein; 38.2 carbohydrates; 6.7 grams fiber.

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