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Matthew Mead FR170582 AP
Butternut barbecue pulled pork. | AP Photo/Matthew Mead

Walk away from this pulled pork to make it better

Here was the problem: I needed dinner ready by 7:15 p.m. But I was going to be out of the house for the two hours before that. Further complicating things, I had a pork tenderloin that I wanted to turn into pulled pork. But my typical stovetop method of braising it until it falls apart wouldn’t work if I wasn’t there to keep an eye on it, and I hadn’t planned far enough ahead to use the slow cooker.

The solution? Braising the pork in the oven. It’s faster than a slow cooker — but equally hands off — yet far gentler than stovetop cooking. And along the way, I discovered a whole new — and so very effortless — way to make a rich sauce for my pork that had the added benefit of slipping in some vegetables.

It actually was pretty simple. I brought a blend of white wine and chicken broth to a simmer, then added chopped butternut squash, sliced onion and my pork tenderloin. I returned the whole thing to a simmer, then popped the pot in the oven and walked away for two hours.

By the time I got home, the pork was so tender it was falling apart. So were the vegetables. So I used a slotted spoon to fish out the pork, then I pureed the squash and onion. Add barbecue sauce and the pork (which was so tender it pretty much pulled itself) and I had a vegetable-rich barbecue pulled pork. The sauce was incredible, in part because the squash gave it a great natural sweetness, as well as a velvety texture.


Start to finish: 2 hours 15 minutes (15 minutes active)

Servings: 8

2 cups chicken broth

2 cups white wine

1 large yellow onion, finely chopped

2 cups chopped butternut squash

2 pounds pork tenderloin, cut into 2-inch chunks

1 cup barbecue sauce

1 to 2 tablespoons hot sauce

8 buns

Heat the oven 350 F.

In a large, oven-safe pot, such as a Dutch oven, over medium-high heat, combine the broth, wine, onion and squash. Bring to a simmer, then add the pork. Return to a simmer, then cover the pot and carefully transfer it to the oven. Cook for 2 hours, or until the pork is extremely tender and easily falls apart.

Remove the pot from the oven and use a slotted spoon to transfer the pork to a plate. Return the pot to the stovetop and heat over high. Bring the liquid and vegetables to a boil and cook until the liquid is nearly gone, about 5 minutes. Be careful not to burn the vegetables.

Transfer the vegetables to a blender and puree until smooth. Return the pureed vegetables to the pot. Add the barbecue and hot sauces, stirring well. Return the pork to the pot and stir well to coat. The stirring alone should be sufficient to reduce the pork to strands. If needed, set the pot over medium heat until hot. Serve the pulled pork on buns.

Nutrition information per serving: 370 calories; 40 calories from fat (11 percent of total calories); 4.5 g fat (1.5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 75 mg cholesterol; 42 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 14 g sugar; 29 g protein; 810 mg sodium.

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