BBQ Pulled Pork and BBQ Pulled Chicken Sandwiches are the stress-free choice for your Memorial Day BBQ Menu.
Of course, you can throw burgers and brats on the grill, but burgers can be dry or cold before your guests get one on a bun.
Easy make-ahead recipes give you more time to attend to guests or other important events.
See our Special Note about Memorial Day at the end of the post.
Grilled Pulled Pork BBQ Sandwiches
- 2 tablespoon hickory smoked sea salt or flaked kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons coconut palm sugar or brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons mustard powder
- 1 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon granulated onion
- 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
- 4 pounds country-style pork ribs (4-5 lbs)
- 12 ounces beer -- or 1/2 cup each of apple juice , apple cider vinegar, and water
- Homemade Sandwich Buns -- toasted
- Coleslaw -- optional
- Special Equipment: spray bottle (optional)
- In a small bowl, combine the first eight ingredients and mix well. Arrange the pork ribs on a rimmed baking sheet and rub seasoning evenly over the pork to coat.
- Place in a zipper bag and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight. *Remember to prepare any wood chips for grilling, if necessary.
- Remove pork from refrigerator and bring to room temperature while lighting and prepping a gas or charcoal grill with wood chips and water pan, with direct and indirect heat zones.
- Once the grill is at 400°F, place meat on the grill over indirect heat leaving an inch in between the pieces to not crowd and allow smoke to circulate. Reduce heat to keep temperature around 325°F and grill for about 30 minutes before rotating the meat so the closest to the heat source changes. This is a good time to quickly brush or spray the meat with apple juice or beer to keep the surface moist. Grill for another 30 to 40 minutes.
- Note: During this time, wood chips should be producing a steady stream of smoke. Grilling time can be extended as long as the wood chips are smoking and the internal temperature of the meat doesn't go above 200 degrees.
- Once the meat has been on the grill for an hour or so, heat oven to 325°F. Transfer the pork onto a rack inside of a roasting pan in a single layer and pour beer in the bottom of the pan.
- Cover tightly with aluminum foil and cook in the oven about 2 hours or until pork is 200°F internal temperature when testing the thickest piece. The exact time will depend on the thickness, so it is important to check after the first hour.
- Once the pork has reached 200°F and is tender, transfer to a rimmed baking sheet until cool enough to handle.
- Using your hands, pick up chunks of the pork and rub it between your thumb and fingers to shred, removing bone, connective tissue and fat as you go. (I like to wear surgical gloves for things like this.)
- Optional: Strain and skim fat from juices in pan. Taste to determine if the juices are suitable to pour over the shredded pork (if you like the flavor, it's a yes)--add a small amount of water or chicken broth to dilute if needed.
- This liquid can be reserved to moisten the pork when reheated or pour a little into each bag when storing for later meals. (Any leftover juices can be frozen for adding to soups.)
- Toast the buns by lightly buttering each slice and place under the broiler on HI for 3-4 minutes until golden brown. When ready to serve, reheat the pork with barbecue sauce mixed-in 2-3 minutes.
- Serve 1/2-2/3 cup per serving on each toasted bun, or serve plain with sauce on the side. Top with a scoop of coleslaw for the perfect finish.
BBQ Pulled Chicken Sandwiches
- 8 whole bone-in chicken thighs , skin removed
- onion powder
- granulated garlic
- smoked paprika
- Sea salt and ground black pepper
- 1 7"x16" cedar plank , untreated, designed for grilling
- 1 large onion , peeled and quartered
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 1/2 cups ketchup
- 1 1/2 cups apple cider
- 2 tablespoons palm coconut sugar , or brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 4 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1/3 cup molasses
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon liquid smoke flavoring
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic , minced
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper , or a splash or two of Chipotle Tabasco
- Soak cedar plank in water for an hour or so. While the planks soak, prep the chicken and make the sauce.
- Remove skin from chicken thighs. Arrange chicken on a rimmed baking sheet and sprinkle both sides of chicken pieces with onion powder, granulated garlic, paprika, salt and pepper. Set aside.
FOR THE SAUCE
- Process onion and water in food processor until pureed. Pass mixture through fine-mesh strainer into liquid measuring cup, pressing on solids; this should produce approximately 3/4 cup strained onion juice. Discard solids.
- Whisk onion puree, ketchup, apple cider, sugar, Worcestershire, mustard, molasses, pepper, cider vinegar, and liquid smoke together in medium bowl. Heat oil in nonreactive saucepan over medium heat until shimmering; add garlic, chili powder, and cayenne and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Stir in ketchup mixture; increase heat to medium-high, bring to boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, uncovered, until flavors meld and sauce is slightly thickened, about 15 minutes. This will yield about 4 cups of sauce (refrigerate any leftover).
GRILLING THE CHICKEN
- On a gas grill, place soaked cedar plank directly over medium heat and allow wood to get hot, 5 minutes. Place chicken directly on the cedar plank and cook over medium-low heat 30-40 minutes (this will depend on the grill, so you may have to adjust the temp to be sure the plank stays hot enough).
- As chicken cooks, rotate one or two pieces at a time and cook directly on the grill for a few minutes, then back to the plank. This will help the chicken cook a little faster and create a subtle grilled flavor with the smoke. During the cooking process, the wood plank will char and smoke which is what you want. If the wood should begin to catch fire, simply spray those parts with a little water.
- Once the chicken is cooked through, transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and allow to cool until easy to handle.
- Remove chicken from the bone discarding any gristle, fat, or connective tissue so that only the meat remains (save the bones for stock). Pull chicken meat apart so that it is in small bite-size pieces.
COMBINE AND SERVE
- At this point the chicken and sauce can be refrigerated and then combined just before serving.To serve, toss chicken with desired amount of sauce in a large skillet or oven dish--add as little or as much sauce as you prefer. Heat chicken with sauce in the skillet over medium-low heat or in the oven at 350° until incorporated and heated through. Serve on whole wheat buns and for a special treat, top with coleslaw too!
- 1 pound dry Navy beans , about 2 cups
- 2 teaspoons Sea salt , plus more to taste
- 1/2 pound bacon , cut into 1/4" pieces
- 1 medium onion , chopped
- 1 cup chopped mild green chilies
- 2 cloves garlic , minced
- 2 teaspoons cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1/4 cup molasses
- 1/2 cup Show-Me BBQ sauce , or favorite BBQ sauce
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- Rinse and cover dry beans in water with 1 teaspoon baking soda. Soak for at least 8 hours. Drain and rinse beans, then add beans and enough water to cover by 2 inches in a large pot. Bring to a boil then reduce heat so beans are cooking at a rapid simmer for 1 hour. Check for doneness and add 2 teaspoons salt to the pot and continue to cook until beans are tender, about 30 more minutes.
- In a skillet, fry the bacon pieces until fat is rendered and bacon is crisp. Remove from skillet and set aside. Saute chopped onion in 3 tablespoons of the bacon fat until caramelized; add garlic and cook until fragrant.
- Mix hot water, vinegar, mustard, sugar, molasses, bbq sauce, bay leaf, and pepper in a bowl until well combined. Taste sauce and adjust seasoning as desired. Mix cooked beans, bacon, onions and garlic, and green chilies in a separate bowl until combined. Once mixed, pour into a large casserole dish and cover with the sauce mix. If needed, add additional water to cover the beans.
- Cover and bake at 325º (or place in slow cooker on high) for 3-4 hours. Add liquid if necessary to keep beans just covered. For the last hour of baking, remove cover to allow sauce to evaporate and thicken, if needed. Remove bay leaf before serving.
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup coconut palm sugar
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons buttermilk
- 2 teaspoons celery seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 3 cups shredded green cabbage (about 1/2 head)
- 3 cups shredded red cabbage (about 1/2 head)
- 2/3 cup finely diced green bell pepper
- 1 cup grated carrot
- 1/2 cup grated yellow onion
- 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
- In a bowl, combine the mayonnaise, mustard, sugar, vinegar, buttermilk, celery seeds, salt and pepper; whisk well to dissolve the sugar.
- In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. Toss with the dressing until evenly coated. Adjust seasoning, to taste. Place in the refrigerator, covered, to chill and meld flavors for at least 30 minutes before serving.
Bow Tie Pasta Salad
- 16 ounce mini bow tie pasta , cooked and drained
- 1 1/2 cups grape tomatoes , halved
- 1 1/2 cups zucchini , coarsely chopped
- 1 1/2 cups yellow summer squash , coarsely chopped
- 12- ounces artichoke hearts , drained and quartered
- 1 whole red pepper , chopped
- 8 ounces sliced black olives , drained
- 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
- 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 1 cup diced Provolone cheese , 1/4" dice
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh parley
- vinaigrette or Italian dressing , as desired
- Prepare pasta according to package directions, drain and allow to cool. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Toss with enough dressing to coat well just before serving.
- 3 medium avocados , peeled and smashed
- 1/2 cup finely chopped green onion
- 1 clove minced garlic
- 10 ounces Rotel tomatoes , drained
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 3 tablespoons red bell pepper -- minced
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper -- as desired
- 2 teaspoons lime juice
- Peel avocados and remove large seed in the center. Drain Rotel tomatoes. Chop onions and cilantro. Mince garlic.
- Combine all the ingredients in a bowl; stir while smashing the avocados gently, leaving some chunks. Serve with tortilla chips.
- 1/2 small sweet onions
- 1/4 Serrano pepper
- 1/4 green pepper
- 1/2 yellow chili pepper , mild
- 1 clove garlic
- 5 Roma tomatoes
- 1/2 bunch cilantro leaves
- 2 teaspoons lime juice
- 1/2 teaspoon Sea salt , to taste
- Put garlic, peppers, and onion in food processor and pulse to chop fine. Cut stems off of cilantro just below leaves. Add tomatoes and cilantro to processor and pulse to chop slowly so that tomatoes do not become too small.
- Remove from processor and squeeze fresh lime over mixture, stir well. Add salt and stir well. Serve with tortilla or pita chips.
Ghirardelli Magic Cookie Bars
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
- 12 ounces Ghirardelli double chocolate chips
- 1 1/3 cups flaked coconut
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- Preheat oven to 350° (325° for a glass dish). In a 13x9 inch pan, melt butter in oven. Sprinkle crumbs over butter; pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over crumbs. Layer evenly with remaining ingredients; press down firmly. Bake 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool. Chill if desired. Cut into bars. Store loosely covered at room temperature.
Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation’s service. All holidays are difficult for families who have lost loved ones, but Memorial Day must be especially difficult to process as others plan picnics and backyard parties. Parades, street fairs, vacation plans coincide with graveside visits.
This is an excerpt from an article featured in The Gazette, What to say to grieving families, and why it’s important to remember, about the grief families experience as they remember those they have lost:
“But after the crowds go home, grief is rarely tidy, say those who have lost a child in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some people inadvertently contribute to the heartache with awkward talk of closure or a tone-deafness about the significance of Memorial Day.”
So what expressions of sympathy are truly helpful?
“The kindest thing you can do is just say, ‘Tell me about him,’ because if you don’t talk, you get sick. I’ve had some terrible times after Jake was killed, but for me, being of service is the way to go. I’d hope Jake would say, ‘I’m proud of you, Pops.'”