Barbecue sauce is a staple glaze for meat lovers, but it’s also high in sugar, which can add to the calorie count when you’re in the mood for slow-cooked pulled pork. Dietitian Michelle Dudash, author of Clean Eating for Busy Families: Get Meals on the Table in Minutes with Simple and Satisfying Whole-Foods Recipes You and Your Kids Will Love, uses iron-rich molasses and onions to slim down the sauce while using whole-grain buns to add protein and fiber to a pulled pork sandwich. Pickeled cucumbers and bean sprouts provide a healthy crunch without the fat and carbs of traditional cole slaw.
Recipe: Braised Pork Buns with Quick Pickled Cucumbers and Bean Sprouts
Yield: 11 servings
2 teaspoons expeller-pressed grapeseed or canola oil
3.15 pounds Boston butt, cut into 3 pieces along natural muscle separation, trimmed of surface fat
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup vermouth, rice wine, or dry sherry
2 1/2 cups thinly sliced red cabbage
1 small onion, sliced (about 1 cup)
3 tablespoons molasses (or honey)
2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons minced ginger
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
1 tablespoon honey
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 large cucumbers, peeled, cut in half
lengthwise, seeded with a spoon, thinly sliced
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
11 soft whole-wheat hamburger buns
2 3/4 cups mungbean sprouts
To make the pork: Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil. Season the pork on all sides with salt and pepper. When oil begins to shimmer, add pork and brown on all sides, about four minutes per side. Add browned pork to a slow cooker. Off of the heat, add the vermouth and then place on low heat, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the skillet with a wooden spoon. Add contents of the skillet to the slow cooker, along with cabbage, onion, molasses, soy sauce, garlic, ginger and sesame seeds. Cover and cook on high for one hour, then reduce heat to low and cook for four hours. Alternatively, cook the pork on low for the entire duration for 6-7 hours.
To make the cucumbers: One hour before serving, in a medium bowl, stir and dissolve the honey and salt into the rice vinegar and then add the cucumbers and pepper. Chill.
To assemble: Toast the buns cut side up under a broiler or in a toaster oven. Fill the buns with pork, drained cucumbers and bean sprouts.