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Southern Style Pork Sandwiches

Try out this recipe for these Southern Style Barbecue Pork Sandwiches using lean pork tenderloin that you can either grill or roast in the oven.

Barbecue pulled pork sandwiches 


Prep time: 60 minutes for meat to marinate and 30 min. cooking time

Serves: 8 sandwiches with ¼ cup coleslaw




2 lb. pork tenderloin

8 Ciabatta, sour dough, or whole grain buns

commercial low-fat barbecue sauce – optional

non-aerosol cooking spray

plastic wrap

Dry Rub

2 tbsp. brown sugar

1 tbsp. granulated garlic powder

2 tsp. kosher salt

2 to 3 tsp. smoked or regular paprika

¼ tsp. black pepper, fresh ground

Mopping Sauce

½ cup apple juice

¼ cup seasoned rice vinegar

1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes - optional

1. Combine Dry Rub ingredients together in a small bowl. Whisk Mopping Sauce ingredients together in another small bowl.

2. Lay tenderloin on a sheet of plastic wrap. Using fingers, work rub evenly into pork, wrap securely, and sit at room temperature for 1 hour or refrigerate overnight. Remove from refrigerator, and rest at room temperature for 1 hour.

3. Preheat oven to 400F or set grill to medium. Unwrap meat, dry with paper towels, brushing olive oil on all sides.

4. Spray a heavy oven-safe pan or caste iron skillet with cooking spray and preheat on medium-high. Add tenderloin and sear evenly on all sides. Transfer pan with tenderloin to oven or transfer tenderloin directly to grill. FOR GRILLING: Brush Mopping Sauce liberally over both sides of tenderloin while on grill.

5. Roast or grill tenderloin 6 minutes, flip and cook another 6 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part reaches 140 F. (No thermometer? Roast/grill until pork feels firm and springs back when pressed.)

6. Remove tenderloin from oven or grill and transfer to a cutting board. Tent loosely with foil and rest 15 minutes before cutting across the grain into thick slices. Using two forks, pull/shred meat apart into bite-size pieces. FOR ROASTING: While meat is resting, add Mopping Sauce to roasting pan cooking over medium-high heat, whisking until reduced, 12 minutes. Remove from heat, add pulled pork back to pan, combining with sauce.

7. Divide into 8 portions, top buns with meat and 1/4 cup coleslaw. Pass barbecue sauce around as condiment.  

Nutrition Facts: (1 sandwich with ¼ cup Kicking Sumer Coleslaw) 358 calories; 6.5g Fat; 48g carbohydrate; 3g fiber; 7g protein; 20mg cholesterol; 697 sodium  

Related: Kicking Summer Coleslaw Nutritional

Nutritional Talking Points:

1. Traditional Pulled pork is made with pork shoulder and baked or smoked at a low temperature for 6 to 8 hours. Often a dry rub is used to season the meat. A mopping sauce is then used to baste the pork while it cooks.

Pork shoulder is higher in fat than the pork tenderloin used in this recipe. Shoulder has 5 grams fat per 1 oz., while tenderloin has 0.75 gram of fat per 1 oz. Because tenderloin is the leanest cut of pork, it cooks faster. If over cooked, it dries out and becomes tough making it inappropriate for smoking or baking long periods of time. 

This recipe uses a dry rub containing kosher and smoked paprika. The salt penetrates the meat tenderizing it, while the smoked paprika gives it the taste of traditional barbecue. The meat is then seared and quickly baked or grilled keeping it tender and making it easy to pull apart with a fork or shred with a knife.  

In addition, a simple mopping sauce is added to the pulled pork at the end of cooking time to add moisture and flavor. If grilled, the mopping sauce is used to baste the meat while it grills. The result, traditional tasting pulled pork with 1/16 the fat in 60 minutes instead of 6 hours. 

2.  In addition, this recipe eliminates any unnecessary additional fats, like oils in the mopping sauce.  

3. The sugar in the rub was reduced by half and replaced in the mopping sauce with apple juice.



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Post Author

Mary Ross

Mary is currently a Marketing Account Specialist and has been with SelectHealth for six years. She spends a lot of her time doing what she loves the most—teaching people how to cook healthy meals.

You can frequently see Mary on local television stations demonstrating how to revamp popular recipes by using healthy substitutions and cooking techniques.