For me, Mondays tend to be about recovering from the weekend and staying in to eat with my family. Since I entertain a lot on the weekends, I usually want a simple meal that doesn’t need too much preparation so I can put the plates in the dishwasher and hang my hat up early. If you’re like me, you’ve had a long day of doing what you do; working and taking care people. What about a pulled pork sandwich and a nice green salad on the side?
There are endless ways to make a sandwich out of pulled pork, but one of my favorites is a Cubano. Traditionally, a Cubano has ham and Swiss cheese, roasted pork, pickles, mustard, and sometimes even a few pieces of salami. It’s wedged in between sweet Cuban bread and toasted. It is hands down one of my favorite sandwiches and I love it even more with pulled pork.
Split a piece of bread, like baguette or ciabatta, in half lengthwise, spread the bread with honey mustard or sweet-hot mustard, layer in spoonfuls of pulled pork, thinly sliced pickles and sliced Swiss cheese. Flatten the sandwiches with your hands, then wrap them in foil and bake at 400 degrees F for 5 minutes. Unwrap the foil and continue cooking for 2 minutes, just enough to crisp the tops. Allow the sandwich to rest a few minutes before serving.
Pulled pork hash. Now doesn’t that sound amazing? This is the kind of meal I can see feeding to a very hungry family: one just back from big days at school, at work, or the gym. It’s simple to make a balanced meal from pulled pork, potatoes and some greens. Just par-boil a few potatoes then slice them into bite-sized pieces and fry them quickly in a hot pan with sliced onions and/or garlic, perhaps some bell peppers, shredded carrots… whatever you have on-hand. Throw in some pulled pork and let the mixture cook without moving it. I like my hash crispy so I leave it in a good minute or two before flipping it (it’s okay if it falls apart) and letting it cook another minute.
The way to serve this hashy goodness is to top it with greens and a quick splash of dressing. I promise, everyone will be happily satiated.
Middle of the week dinners take me back to childhood when we would have “breakfast dinner” – eggs, toast or sometimes even pancakes or waffles on Wednesday evenings. What a gas! Now when Wednesday hits, I still think about that breakfast dinner tradition, but I like to turn it on its head and do “dinner breakfast!”
Chilaquiles is a Mexican dish made with torn up stale corn tortillas that are fried in oil with salsa, and sometimes scrambled eggs and shredded chicken. The dish is usually topped with queso fresco, or another dry white cheese. So why not swap the shredded chicken with a few helpings of pulled pork? This is a protein-rich, deeply satisfying meal that’s an exciting change to the traditional breakfast. Perfect for those long mid-week hump days. Crisp it up by frying it quickly in a hot pan with a dash oil and stir it into the tortillas at the last minute.
Soup is satisfying, much like using up leftovers is satisfying, so it’s no coincidence that making a soup from leftovers is so easy. One of my favorite ways to use up meat is to prepare a simple soup with onions, carrots, celery and broth. If I have some leftover rice or other grains in the fridge, I’ll stir that in last-minute with a few handfuls of pulled pork. Top the soup with sliced green onions and a few cracks of black pepper and you’ll have a fresh, bright soup that doesn’t seem to have come from leftovers. Pair it with a hunk of warm bread with olive oil or butter. That right there is truly one of the easiest lunches or dinners you’ll ever make.
One of my favorite Thai dishes is called Larb Gai. It is a tangy and spicy combination of ground meat mixed with chopped mint, basil and red onions, similar to a Thai Pulled Pork Salad. Pulled pork works perfectly with the flavors of this dish, especially when the pork, herb and onion mixture is dressed with lime juice and ground red chilies and rolled up in pieces of lettuce.
This dish makes a great party appetizer when served as small lettuce wraps, much like a Greek dolma. It’s Friday night, have some friends over for dinner, or gather the whole family, and even get the neighborhood kids involved.
Or, if you’re cooking dinner for the whole gang, turn this into a full meal by adding more shredded greens like watercress, spinach or lettuce to the pork mixture, and serving it alongside cold cucumber spears and sticky Thai rice.
Whether you gather to eat with your children, your neighbors, the one person you love, or your classmates, your bond will grow stronger when you eat together. Challenge yourself to make a batch of pulled pork and use it up during the week by sitting down each night and sharing the meal. These are just five of endless ideas for using up pulled pork. Imagine the possibilities.