Pulled pork is, by far, one of the best proteins out there. The absolute best cut of meat to use for pulled pork is a marbled pork shoulder, and it's a fundamental reason why this meat is so delicious. The cut is especially fatty and forgiving, meaning that it can hold up well to a long cooking time in a slow cooker or smoked over a barbecue pit. When you bite into a piece of pulled pork, you'll find that the meat is distinctively soft and flavorful, especially if it's paired with a sweet barbecue sauce.
Even though we love eating the standard pulled pork-and-barbecue-sauce pairing, there's so much more room for using this cut of meat in the kitchen. Not to mention, there's a reason why no one has ever made a single serving of it in their lifetime — mainly because it requires low and slow cooking that can take upwards of a whole day. And since pulled pork tends to hold up well for several days in the fridge, you'll be looking for ways to reheat it and use it in a myriad of other dishes. Here are some of our favorite ways to make the most of leftover pulled pork in the kitchen for flavorful meals at any time of day.
Add It To Your Chili
Cold weather isn't just soup season; it's also the perfect time for a delicious crock of chili. We recommend adding pulled pork to this dish because it amps up the savory flavor and helps add an additional boost of protein.
If you have all day to cook your chili, we recommend adding your whole pork shoulder to a slow cooker with your seasonings, tomato sauce, brown sugar, beans, onions, and whatever other chili ingredients you want. Allow the mixture to cook for about ten hours before enjoying; it's perfect game-day fare. If you have pulled pork already cooked, add it to a stock pot and cook with oil until crisp before adding your chili ingredients. This method will have dinner on the table in less than an hour — and save you some refrigerator space, too.
Make Game-Day-Ready Sliders
Ready, set, hike! If you need an option for quick bites on game day, consider making pulled pork sliders. Soft buns are key to delicious pulled pork sandwiches and sliders because they soak up the leftover juices for the meat and contrast the crunchiness of the coleslaw. Stock up on Hawaiian or potato rolls to serve with your mini sandwiches.
When you're ready to prepare, stuff the buns with your pulled pork and add a layer of cheese if desired. You can pop the tray into the oven to keep warm while you prepare the rest of your game-day treats before serving your leftover pulled pork sliders to your crowd. These sliders are also an easy weeknight meal idea because you can pop them in the oven and serve them with a green salad or potato salad.
Use It As A Protein For Tacos
If you're looking for a relatively hands-off meal idea for your leftover pork, grab a pack of tortillas from the store and make pulled pork tacos. The best part about this recipe is that you don't have to slave over a slow cooker for several hours to get fall-off-the-bone meat; just use your BBQ pork leftovers reheated in the microwave or on the stovetop.
Once you've brought your pulled pork up to temperature, slather it in your tacos and top with fresh lime juice and wedges, chopped white onion, cilantro, and pickled red onions. You can also go the extra mile and add some crunchy slaw to the top of your tacos; the crunchiness will contrast against the soft meat and tortilla well.
Top Your Macaroni And Cheese
Let's face it: Eating the same macaroni and cheese recipe can get a little boring. But with leftover pulled pork, you can make the cheesy pasta of your dreams with the sweet and savory flair of barbecue sauce.
To make the most of this dish, you're going to want to assemble it like a casserole. Start by adding your macaroni to the bottom of an oven-safe baking dish and top with your homemade cheese sauce mixture. Then, pile on a few cups of the pulled pork, toss with extra barbecue sauce, and add a final layer of cheddar cheese before baking until soft and gooey. If you're short on time, you can also use microwavable mac-and-cheese with a spoonful of leftover pulled pork on top. For a bit of extra heat, try adding chopped jalapeños or fresh cracked black pepper.
Substitute It For Ground Beef In A Shepherd's Pie
Shepherd's pie is a Sunday night dinner classic, but that's not to say you can't get creative with this homestyle favorite. One of our favorite ways to upgrade shepherd's pie is to substitute the ground beef with pulled pork. Start by mixing together your pulled pork, barbecue sauce, and veggies like corn and peas. Then, layer it into an oven-safe baking tray with mashed potatoes and an optional layer of cheese on top. Bake until the top is slightly browned, slice, and enjoy.
Our favorite part about this recipe is that it's super budget-friendly. Not only are you using your leftover pulled pork, but you can also opt for canned veggies and boxed mashed potatoes for a tasty yet inexpensive meal that keeps well for lunch throughout the week.
Add Some Porky Flavor To Your Grilled Cheese
Eating the same grilled cheese sandwich whenever the craving strikes can get a little bit monotonous. But topping your warm, melty sandwich with a succulent, sweet layer of pork? Count us in.
This grilled cheese upgrade tastes amazing with brioche bread slices, but you can also substitute whatever slices you have. We recommend first cooking the pulled pork in a skillet with oil and barbecue sauce to crisp up the edges. Then, stuff it into the sandwich with a couple of layers of cheddar cheese and serve it alongside crunchy coleslaw or kettle-cooked potato chips. If desired, you can smother on more barbecue sauce or add some soft caramelized onions to your sandwich for a sweeter flavor.
Make The Best Nachos For A Crowd
We guarantee you won't want to go back to boring ground beef nachos after trying pulled pork nachos. The pork has a much sweeter and more profound flavor than you'll ever get from the ground beef, which is perfect for making this recipe uniquely your own. Once you have your chips layered on a baking sheet, top it with the pulled pork, chopped jalapeños, beans (if desired), and a copious amount of cheddar cheese. Bake until the cheese has melted before pulling the tray out and topping with fresh toppings like sour cream, chopped cilantro, and lime wedges.
Since the pulled pork can be rather dense (combined with the weight of the toppings), we recommend using a sturdy tortilla chip. Our favorite tortilla chip brands for nachos include Tortiyahs!, which are pre-seasoned but can complement these toppings well.
Use It For A Topping On Homemade Pizza
There are many weird and wonderful things you can put on a pizza, and leftover pulled pork is one of them. There are several different routes you can take for this recipe. You can substitute the traditional tomato sauce for a barbecue sauce and top your pie with pulled pork, onion, cheese, and other complementary flavors — or you can stick to a red or white sauce base.
Other toppings that mesh well with the sweet and savory taste of the pork include a hot honey drizzle, fresh arugula, jalapeños, and fresh basil, but you can also get creative with whatever toppings you have in your kitchen. Like all meat toppings on pizza, you should always pre-cook the pork beforehand to ensure it crisps up in the oven and is safe to eat.
Add It To A Breakfast Casserole
A breakfast casserole is the perfect dish for folks looking for an easy, bake-it-and-forget-it meal idea. Plus, the dish tends to keep well for several days so you can have it for lunch or dinner throughout the week.
You'll need a few basic items for your casserole: sturdy bread (brioche or Hawaiian rolls preferred), leftover pulled pork, eggs, cheese, and other toppings as desired. Start by layering the bread in the bottom of a baking dish and then covering it with the pulled pork, cheese, and scrambled eggs. Bake until the bread and eggs are fully cooked before slicing and serving. We recommend adding chopped red onion and cheese to your breakfast dish, but you can also experiment with other ingredients.
Use It In A Soup Or Stew
Pulled pork soup is an easy way to repurpose your meat for a wholesome, family-friendly dish. There are several different avenues you can take for this dish, including sticking to a vegetable soup or going with a play on taco soup. Since the flavors of the broth may conflict with your barbecue sauce seasoned pork, we recommend sticking to an un-sauced variety.
Add your meat to a pot with broth and an array of pantry ingredients like canned corn, onions, and tomatoes for the vegetable soup. You can also add diced potatoes to make it a bit more hearty. If you love Tex-Mex cuisine, stick with familiar ingredients like black beans, corn, tomatoes, and chili peppers and top with sour cream and crushed tortilla chips.
Stuff It Into Homemade Tamales
Christmas time is the best time of year — mainly because we get to make tamales. For those unfamiliar, tamales is a Mexican dish that encases a filling, often meat, cheese, or beans, within a layer of masa and a corn husk wrapping. The tamales are steamed to cook the masa and then eaten once the husk has been removed.
Pulled pork is a great filling for tamales because it's already pre-cooked. We recommend seasoning your meat with a hefty amount of ancho chili pepper, garlic, and honey for a more pronounced flavor. After tamales are cooked, they can be kept in the fridge for several days or frozen for longer. While this is a labor-intensive meal, the results are tasty and well worth it.
Amp Up Your Classic Meatloaf
Meatloaf is often made with a blend of ground beef, pork, and veal, but stringy pulled pork can actually provide a welcomed texture to your loaf. One of the absolute worst mistakes people make with meatloaf is not adding enough fat, mainly pork, to the loaf. A loaf with a high-fat content will stick together and remain moist rather than drying out in the oven.
Ideally, you'll want to use equal parts shredded pork to ground meat to ensure it holds together. You can also experiment with adding ingredients like diced onion, garlic, and fresh herbs to the mixture for optimal flavor. Avoid adding extra barbecue sauce to the loaf until it's finished baking, then add a slather on top and serve with a side of mashed potatoes.
Stuff It Into Wontons For An Easy Appetizer
Your next party will be a thousand times better if you serve fried wontons as an appetizer. In order to keep the filling of these Asian-inspired appetizers moist, you're going to want to mix the pulled pork with ingredients like mozzarella cheese, green onions, and extra barbecue sauce. Place one tablespoon (no more, or your wontons will split) in the center of a pre-made wrapper and pinch together. From there, you can fry the wrappers until crisp and serve with dipping sauce. The traditional sauce route is sweet-and-sour chili, but you can also stick with the barbecue sauce theme or go with a creamy sauce. Our favorite thing about this recipe is that you can also eat the wontons on day two; just crisp them up in an air fryer for a delicious, crunchy snack.
Craft A Deluxe Cubano Sandwich
Cubano sandwiches are a pleasure to eat, and upgrading the classic sandwich with a bit of leftover pulled pork is easy. A Cubano is historically made with succulent roasted pork and ham, sour pickles, Swiss cheese, and a tangy mustard spread sandwiched by two plush pieces of Cuban bread, but this version takes the sandwich's flavors to a new level.
If you're starting with unseasoned shredded pork, you can pack on the flavor by adding ground cumin, chopped garlic, orange juice, and lime juice. If you already have pulled pork made with barbecue sauce, you can add that straight onto your sandwich as well; just know that the flavors won't quite be on par with the classic Cubano recipe. Regardless, toast the sandwiches in a pan until perfectly golden brown for a delicious lunch.
Add It To Cornbread For A Savory Twist
We're not saying there's anything wrong with a piece of cornbread, especially when it's coated in honey butter. But if you want a savory upgrade to your cornbread, add your leftover pulled pork. You can stuff the meat into the cornbread skillet and watch as each bite is transformed into a sweet and savory masterpiece perfect for serving at a football game or as a side with dinner.
Start by adding your cornbread batter to the bottom of a well-greased skillet or cast iron pan. Then, fill the center with the shredded meat, seasoned liberally with barbecue sauce and cheese, leaving a bit of border on the sides, before filling the rest of the skillet with the batter. Bake the cornbread until golden brown and enjoy.
Use It As The Protein For Your Ramen
Cold winter days are great for a warm bowl of ramen. If you need protein for your bowl, ditch the tofu and the sliced beef for pulled pork. Start by making a pork broth seasoned with aromatics like lemongrass, ginger, garlic, and onion — or buy a pre-made broth from your local ethnic market. Then, add in your favorite additions, like shredded, pre-cooked, unseasoned pork, squiggly noodles, bok choi, mushrooms, and soft-boiled eggs. It's a great way to use up the leftover shredded pork to create a protein-rich meal brimming with fresh veggies and aromatics. Ramen also keeps well so you can use the soup for lunches or easy dinners throughout the week. Get your chopsticks and bowls ready!
Stuff It Into Quesadillas
If you're inkling for a food that will remind you of your childhood, cook up some quesadillas. You can't go wrong with tortillas stuffed with soft, melty cheese and a side of sour cream.
Our favorite ingredient to add to quesadillas is pulled pork. We recommend cooking your tortilla on medium heat and going light on the oil to prevent burning. Once you've added your cheese (sharp cheddar, Monterey jack, and pepper jack all work), fill it up with shredded pork and any other fillings like beans or chili peppers and cook until browned on both sides. Serve your snack with a bit of barbecue sauce, or stick with the traditional sour cream and salsa. You can also make and store your filling in the freezer or refrigerator whenever your quesadilla craving strikes.
Empanadas are portable pies that can be filled with an array of savory or sweet fillings -- including pulled pork. Not only is it a great opportunity to use up leftover pulled pork, but you can also utilize leftover pie crust too!
Combine your shredded meat with canned adobo chili and aromatics like onion and garlic. You can stuff a few tablespoons into your empanada dough with cubed cheese and pinch to seal from there. Like wontons or wraps, you'll want to avoid overstuffing your empanadas because it might mean busted seams when you bake them. To give your empanadas the perfect color, we also recommend adding a swipe of egg wash to the top before popping them in the oven and baking them until golden brown.
Serve Up Some Fresh Lettuce Wraps
Everyone loves wraps, but sometimes, they can be a little oppressive and filling. On the other hand, lettuce wraps are an easy way to get all the benefits of a delicious filling combined with a crunchy light wrap that will leave you feeling good about eating it. Bibb lettuce is the tender type of lettuce that can hold up a wrap, which is why we recommend it for stuffing with heavy pulled pork. Add warmed BBQ-sauce-seasoned pork to your washed Bibb leaves with freshly made slaw, onions, or chopped radish pieces. You can also get creative and substitute the BBQ sauce for a spicy peanut sauce made with your favorite peanut butter, ginger, garlic, chili sauce, soy sauce, and hoisin. It's a bit of Thai flavors with a modern American twist.
Read the original article on Tasting Table.