Red pepper jelly pulled pork sandwiches make a rain-proof meal for a springtime gathering. (Kathy D’Agostino photo)
It’s May. Spring has sprung and summer is coming. The days are becoming warmer and it is definitely getting greener outside. May is National Barbecue Month, which is fitting, as Memorial Day is on the 29th and many of us will host cookouts.
I don’t have to remind you that planning an outdoor event for a group can go either way with Maine’s spring weather. When my girls were little, one of their big moments was marching in our town’s Memorial Day parade every year. One daughter was in the marching band and the other was a cheerleader. We would always plan an outdoor barbecue after the parade with friends and family.
More often than not, their father and I sat in our webbed lawn chairs on the side of the road with umbrellas in hand. I would get myself in a knot over the rain and our cookout because I knew the kids would be disappointed that the picnic we had planned was going to be indoors. That was many years ago now, but how I remember those days.
I think of families who may be in those same soggy shoes now and have made wonderful plans for a Mother’s Day brunch or a Memorial Day picnic only to have it fall apart because of bad weather. No worries. I am here to tell you to go ahead and make those plans. Rain or shine, I have the best solution for a barbecue or brunch that does not involve the grill.
A friend of mine gave me a tip about a cook who contributes to the Meals in a Pinch program run by Harpswell Aging at Home. She said his recipes are fabulous. She was spot on. This recipe is a perfect solution to the dilemma of rain falling on your outdoor barbecue.
Craig Sipe and his wife had been coming from Rhode Island to Maine for quite a few years on weekends before they finally retired to Orr’s Island permanently in 2016. He is a poet and loves to cook. Besides cooking for Meals in a Pinch, he is the Wednesday chef for the Midcoast Hunger Prevention Program in Brunswick.
Craig shared his recipe for pulled pork. It is absolutely delicious — truly the best pulled pork I have ever had. The flavors come together magnificently. Craig suggested this dish be served with coleslaw, along with your favorite recipe for baked beans. (See “Cooking at 43° North: A Maine Saturday night tradition” in the May 2022 edition.) You can also serve it on a bun with the coleslaw on top of the pork.
If you’re like me, you may think it a bit strange to put the coleslaw on the pork while it’s in the bun. We saw our daughter do this very thing about a year ago and we thought she was out of her mind. Well, I tried it with this recipe and the taste is amazing! I will never eat it any other way, nor will I ever make pulled pork with another recipe.
Whether indoors or out, serve this menu at your next gathering and, believe me, your guests will be talking about this recipe for a very long time.
Enjoy your Memorial Day picnic and go ahead and have that brunch. Who cares if the skies open up? Don’t let it rain on your parade and whatever you do, don’t signal a “mayday” when those plans fall apart because of bad weather. Just smile and make this. Enjoy!
RED PEPPER JELLY PULLED PORK
1 pork butt or shoulder roast, 4-5 pounds
Chicken broth as needed
12 ounces of red pepper jelly (not hot unless you want it to be)
4 cloves minced garlic
8-10 ounces mild salsa (or medium or hot, based on preference)
8 ounces hickory barbecue sauce
4 ounces Stubb’s original barbecue sauce
Several squirts of yellow mustard
Cut up roast into large chunks; place in a Crock-Pot and cover with broth. Cook on low for eight to 10 hours or overnight.
Remove chunks of meat with a slotted spoon. Shred on a cutting board with two forks. Place the shredded pork into a large bowl. Reserve one cup of cooking liquid from the pork and set aside. (Save the balance for a great soup base. Refrigerate, then skim the fat off the top.)
Place sauce ingredients into a food processor and process until smooth. (He usually does this in two batches.)
Add sauce into the bowl with the meat, along with one cup of the cooking liquid (more if desired). Mix well.
Place meat back into the Crock-Pot and cook on low for two to three hours, stirring occasionally to meld the flavors.
Serve with your favorite baked bean recipe and coleslaw, or on a bun with the coleslaw on top of the pork.
Cooking at 43° North, a program of Harpswell Aging at Home, brings Harpswell residents together for cooking programs, in person and online. Watch the Anchor calendar for listings.
HAH always needs cooks for its Meals in a Pinch program, which provides nutritious meals to seniors in need of emergency assistance. For more information, contact Julie Moulton at 207-330-5416 or firstname.lastname@example.org.