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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Pulled Pork with Apricot Bourbon BBQ Sauce

In further confession of my not-so-secret love of lists, I have to admit that I have been compiling a list of food 'forms' that every foodie (and aspiring top chef contestant) should make at least once. And that led me to the realization that I have never made my own BBQ sauce. Growing up as I did, BBQ wasn't something one made, it just appeared from on high in bottled form. And like a good cosmopolitan American consumer, I just never stopped to think that the commercially prepared kind originally began as an imitation of something folks used to make at home themselves.

Shredded Chicken with Apricot Bourbon BBQ Sauce, grilled apricots with chevre, and steamed asparagus

So I decided to pony up and see what it was like to make my own BBQ sauce. And I was experiencing a little late-summer nostalgia for fruits, so I wanted to make a fruit-based sauce. I hunted around and studied the form of BBQ recipes, finding things I admired, looking for consistencies from recipe to recipe. Making some decisions of my own. And I finally arrived at a sauce that is sweet with a bite, a perfect good-bye kiss to the fruits of summer and a great way to warm up those newly chilly evenings.

Pulled Pork with Apricot Bourbon BBQ Sauce

By The Skinny Gourmet (E. McDonnell)

1/2 fresh ginger. peeled but left whole
1 medium (6 ounces) sweet yellow onion, quartered
3/4 cup dried apricots
2 cloves garlic
1/3 cup apricot juice
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1-2 jalapeno peppers, seeds removed and halved
1.5-2 pounds pork shoulder or boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 Tbsp bourbon

Optional: 1 cup fire-roasted cherry tomatoes, blended

Add ginger, onion, apricots, garlic, apricot juice vinegar, jalapenos and meat into a 4 quart or smaller slowcooker. Cook on low until the meat is fork tender but still holds together, about 4-6 hours. Gently remove meat to a bowl and pull apart with a fork. Blend the remaining ingredients from the slowcooker together, should form a thick sauce. You can remove them to a food processor or use a wand blender to blend them in the slow cooker crock itself.

If you prefer more of a tomato-based BBQ sauce, you can fire roast 1 cup of cherry tomatoes (broil on high in oven until skin is somewhat blackened) and add them to the rest of the ingredients before blending. I thought I would prefer the tomatoes, but I actually liked it better with the straight apricot base.

After the sauce is well blended, add the bourbon, stir to mix well. If the sauce is too thick for your liking, thin with equal amounts apple cider vinegar and apricot juice. Then return the shredded meat to the slowcooker and cook for another 30 minutes to allow the flavors to permeate the meat.


Adrienne said...

That looks DELICIOUS. Do you think it could be done in a covered pot on low? I don't have a slow cooker...

Erin @ The Skinny Gourmet said...

Adrienne: I feel fairly certain it could be modified for either a covered pot on the stove (on low) or a covered casserole in the oven on low. The only trouble is that I can't particularly advise how to modify the cooking time, or what the ultimate effect on the thickness of the sauce would be (which varies with evaporation differences in cooking methods). My guess is that crockpot is generally a moister cooking method, so at worst you'd be adding more liquids. And even on low, neither the stove or oven will go for anywhere close to 6 hours. I would plan on more like 3 or less, but I can't really say.

And more importantly: get yourself a slowcooker woman! They are only $20, and I'm not ashamed to say my prejudices against them (based on casserole childhood) were totally unfounded. We own two slow cookers and they have revolutionized how we cook meats. Or at least put one on your Birthday/Christmas/Hanukkah/Holiday list.

ttfn300 said...

OOoh, I've never made my own BBQ sauce, either! This looks awesome though :) I love the ideas that everyone comes up with!!! It's become a little easier, but I hope someday I'll be able to make some creations of my own :)

Grace said...

oooh, your sauce sounds fantastic! i haven't been bold enough to make my own sauce yet, but when i get there, i want to try something a lot like this. very nice. :)

Sara said...

This looks amazing, I'm always looking for new slow cooker recipes!

Jude said...

Looks so packed with flavor. I'll definitely try this on a stovetop and guess how long it will take.

Astra Libris said...

Your BBQ sauce is positively beautiful!! I love that it's a slow cooker recipe, too - I can't wait to try this for a busy clinical night!

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