A tasty way to enjoy a meal that has been slow-roasted and delightfully seasoned, National Pulled Pork Day celebrates everything that has to do with this delicious dish!
History of National Pulled Pork Day
Pulled Pork is a dish that has its origins in the southern parts of the United States, based on the idea of shredding the meat after it has been barbecued. Although it can certainly be made in a slow cooker, the most traditional way to do so is to slow-smoke it over wood.
The process of cooking the meat through smoking seems to have spread through Spanish settlers who observed what native peoples (likely in the Caribbean or perhaps the United States) were doing. They learned that smoking meat through the use of an indirect fire provided a way of keeping the bugs away while preserving it. And this seems to have been the predecessor to what everyone now knows as a barbecue.
Through this method, the desired meat usually was pork, due to its affordability as well as availability. It is almost always made from the pork shoulder (sometimes called pork butt, Boston butt or picnic shoulder), which is a fairly inexpensive cut. The meat should be somewhat fatty, which adds flavor to the dish, and it cooks up extremely tender. Ideally, the meat will be slow-smoked for a very long time, so that the connective tissue becomes tender and falls apart even before it is actually “pulled”.
Sonny’s BBQ has partnered with the National Pork Board and the National BBQ Association in the United States to declare October 12 as National Pulled Pork Day.
Barbecue is revered in the South, specifically in Florida and the Carolinas, for its special connection to family and its call to gather with loved ones. The South is also known across the country for its unique and dominant BBQ protein, pork. And the number one way to enjoy it? The delicious pulled pork sandwich. Because of this, these three organizations have joined together to create a day to celebrate this Southern tradition: National Pulled Pork Day.
How to Celebrate National Pulled Pork Day
Getting to celebrate this day is a delight for the taste buds! Plus, since it’s a large cut of meat that will feed many, it typically will be enjoyed with good company such as friends, family, or even a block party full of neighbors.
Try out these ideas for getting the Pork Day celebration going:
Make Pulled Pork
Since not everyone has access to a wood-fired smoker, it is also okay to make it in a kitchen. Whether using a slow cooker or a traditional oven, the most important thing is to be sure that it is cooked very slowly and at a very low temperature. The slower and lower, the better! On the other hand, some people find that an Instant Pot pressure cooker is just the thing to make their pulled pork melt in their mouths.
No matter what form of cooking is used, preparation of the meat is important. Some people like to soak it in brine for a few hours before cooking the meat. Also, feel free to make some spices to rub into it (although it certainly should have a lot of its own flavor). Try spices such as smoked paprika, dry mustard, and chili powder, mixed with brown sugar and apple cider vinegar.
Get Creative with Pulled Pork
Pulled Pork doesn’t have to be just for sandwiches! Many different varieties of dishes can be conjured up using this tasty meat. Try out these ideas for various recipes to make with pulled pork, whether in honor of National Pulled Pork Day or just for any day:
- Pulled Pork Nachos. Combine Tex-Mex with southern pulled pork goodness by piling pork on top of tortilla chips and then adding a variety of toppings such as cheddar or Monterey jack cheese, jalapenos, sour cream, salsa, guacamole or black beans. This same idea can be accomplished with burritos by stuffing everything into a large tortilla.
- Pulled Pork Soup. Use that leftover pulled pork in a healthy way by cooking it into a delicious soup. Add tomatoes, onions, garlic, black beans, zucchini, chicken stock and other desired ingredients and let it cook slowly until the flavors melt together. Serve with a topping of cheese and tortilla chips.
- Pulled Pork with Cornbread. Enjoy just a pile of this delicious meat all on its own–with or without a favorite brand of barbecue sauce. Then whip up some delicious homemade cornbread to enjoy on the side with a pile of butter.
- Loaded Fries with Pulled Pork. Take fries to a whole new level with pulled pork! Make fresh or frozen fries, pile on the pulled pork, add some jalapenos, flavor with coriander, lime and red onion. Made this way, fries are not just an appetizer or a side dish, but they can function as a full meal.
Throw a National Pulled Pork Day Party
Make National Pulled Pork Day into an excuse to have a fun barbecue in the backyard. Gather a group of friends and serve pulled pork sandwiches with a collection of side dishes. This might include the traditional creamy coleslaw, potato salad, baked beans, collard greens or corn on the cob. Serve with a pile of fresh watermelon.
Go Out for Pulled Pork
Some of the best restaurant chains that serve Pulled Pork can be found in the southern parts of the United States since that’s where the dish began. Check out some of these delicious barbecue places:
- Dickey’s Barbecue Pit. Just because it’s the largest barbecue chain in the world doesn’t mean they’ve compromised on quality. Every location (there are more than 400 locations in 43 states) still pit-smokes its own pork, and they offer free meals for kids on Sundays. Unlike many places that don’t say how much meat comes in their dishes, here the meats are served by the pound.
- Jim ‘N Nick’s Bar-B-Q. Founded in 1985 by a father and son combo (presumably named Jim and Nick), this restaurant chain was started in Birmingham, Alabama and now has 30 locations. They smoke their own pork (choose pulled or chopped) and it’s crazy good.
- Red Hot & Blue. A group of southerners in Arlington, Virginia were missing home, so they started their own barbecue joint in the Washington DC area. They’ve now moved into 6 other states and their pulled pork is hickory smoked (slow and low).
- Famous Dave’s. Another fairly well-known chain, this one was, ironically, started in the northern US–in Minnesota. Dave Anderson, A Chippewa Indian, started the chain in 1994 and has opened almost 200 locations in more than 33 states.