If your team is one of the two slated to play in the big game this weekend, congratulations! You get to root on your boys as they invade the Big Easy. As for the rest of us, we get the pleasure of doing the same thing our favorite teams are doing – sitting on our butts, chowing down and watching the TV.

But just because you’re not down in New Orleans doesn’t mean you have to settle for bad wings and dry chicken tenders. Big games, like the one on Sunday, offer a great excuse to cook something different.

Sometimes you can base a game-day menu on where a given team comes from. Just think of those classic towns with storied food traditions and world famous dishes. Philadelphia has the cheese steak, Green Bay is famous for sausages, New England is known for chowder… you get the drill.

This year, you might prepare some sort of crab dish in honor of Baltimore. For San Francisco? Maybe something with sour dough (or Rice-A-Roni if you’re feeling cheeky).

Sometime, though, your focus is on downing those fizzy lifting drinks, so you want all the heavy lifting done by kickoff. A perfect food for this strategy is pulled pork.

You don’t need much to make great pulled pork.

You don’t need a smoker to do a great pork shoulder. All you need you is a little time and know-how. If you can control the temperature of your oven or smoker and want to use a rub on this pork, you can. Just make sure you keep your temperature consistently at 275 and smoke or roast until the meat hits an internal temperature of 205. You need to roast low and slow – roasting too fast will result in dry meat!

Super Sunday Pulled Pork Sandwiches
You’ll need to do some prep work a day in advance of when you want to dig in. You’ll need:

  • Pork shoulder or butt, 5 to 7 pounds
  • Dried thyme
  • Pepper
  • Granulated garlic
  • Onion powder

Rub salt liberally on all sides of the pork, followed by pinches of dried thyme, pepper, granulated garlic and onion powder. You can use only salt and pepper, or your favorite rub recipe if you like, but I find the above procedure can be used for a few different dishes (but if you insist on that classic BBQ rub, I’ve included my recipe below).

George Formaro’s rub

  • 2 tbs. smoked paprika
  • 1 c brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. granulated garlic
  • 1 tsp. ground chipotle pepper
  • 2 tsp. ground celery seed
  • 1 tsp. ground mustard
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin seed
  • 2 tbs. seasoned salt
  • 1 tsp. chile pepper
  • 1 tsp. leaf thyme
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/16 tbs. or pinch of red wine vinegar powder

Place rubbed roast in large airtight plastic bag or container; refrigerate overnight.

Day 2: Remove the pork about 30 minutes before cooking and preheat your oven to 275 degrees.

Place pork fat side up in a roasting pan or an aluminum pan. Roast in middle of your oven for 6 to 8 hours (In my home oven, I’ve found that 7 hours always works; yours may vary a bit).

Roast or smoke until pork reaches an internal temperature of 205 degrees or the roast can easily be pulled apart. Transfer the roast to a cutting board and let stand for 15 minutes. Using surgical gloves (double up), pull shreds apart, or use tongs to pull it into chunks.

Toss the pulled pork with your favorite BBQ sauce and hold in a crock pot. Serve with South Union buns, coleslaw and baked beans.

Get’n SAUCY with George’s K.C. Style Sauce

Now, we’ve got a lot of great BBQ sauce selections at Gateway Market, covering a variety of styles and tastes. But if you want to give making your own a shot, here’s one recipe you’re sure to love.

  • 1/4 cup yellow mustard
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 4 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1
  • 1 32 oz. bottle ketchup
  • tsp. allspice
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. garlic
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. liquid smoke
  • 1 cup corn syrup or brown sugar
  • 1 Tbs. ground celery seed
  • 1 tsp. ground chipotle pepper
  • 1 Tbs. salt
  • 1 Tbs. chili powder

Combine ingredients in a saucepan and cook on the stove for at least 20 minutes.

If you want to kick up the heat, you can add things like chipotle in adobo or jalapeno peppers. You also can customize this recipe by adding honey, molasses, espresso powder or different jams or preserves such as peach or raspberry to make it your own.

Pulled pork replaces shaved beef in this Philly-style sandwich.

Pulled Pork Sandwich, Philly Style

Want to try a different approach for your pulled pork? Skip the BBQ sauce, and try this play on a classic Philly! You’ll need:

  • About 2 cups cooked pulled pork (warm)
  • 4 South Union hoagie rolls
  • 1 bunch chopped broccoli rabe (if you can’t find broccoli rabe, you can substitute dandelion greens, Swiss chard, kale or turnip greens).
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • Pinch of red pepper flake
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 tsp. chopped garlic
  • 8 slices young provolone or whole milk mozzarella

To prepare the broccoli rabe, heat the olive oil in a large saute pan. Add broccoli rabe and salt, and cooking until it becomes tender. Add the red pepper flake and garlic, adjust the seasoning until the taste is to your liking. Remove from heat and hold warm.

Now, you can make your sandwiches. Place 1/2 cup of warm pulled pork in each hoagie.

Divide desired amount of broccoli rabe among the 4 sandwiches, then place 2 slices of provolone on each sandwich. Toast them in your oven or in a toaster oven.

You’ve never had a Philly like this one before!

If you’re feeling adventurous, try adding a touch of aged provolone along with the young provolone – you’ll get a better flavor along with some stretchy melt! In addition, you can try making this same sandwich on sliced country Italian bread for panini heaven. Just butter the outside of the bread and let George Foreman do the work!

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