Monday, January 20, 2014

Pulled Pork Stuffed Buns

Pulled Pork Stuffed Buns

These gems are prefect for your next Super Bowl party or any game day buffet. The recipe is flexible enough to let you prepare hearty handful sized portions or smaller two bite nibblers. We begin by preparing our pulled pork in a slow cooker with a recipe so simple you’ll wonder what got left out. One of the many plusses of this recipe is that the meat cooks completely unattended and then you put it away for a day or two until you’re ready to use it. On game day, the hands-on preparation is super simple and leaves you with plenty of time to prep the house for guests.

The preparation and cooking times listed below are attended times, meaning, that’s the amount of time you need to be hanging around and getting your hands messy and doesn’t include the slow cooker time (10 hours) or thawing and rising time (3 to 3½ hours). Please be sure to read the recipe completely through to get a handle on what gets done when and check out the variations I’ve included in the Tips and Trending section following the recipe steps.

Pulled Pork Stuffed Buns
Yield: 36 Portions     Preparation Time: 45 Minutes     Cooking Time: 20 Minutes per Batch


• 2½ to 3 Pounds Boneless Pork Shoulder Country Ribs
• ¼ Cup Liquid Smoke, recommend Wright’s® brand Hickory flavor
• 1 Tablespoon BBQ Dry Rub, see recipe in Tips and Trending
• 2 Tablespoons Dark Brown Sugar
• 2 Tablespoons Barbeque Sauce, homemade or your favorite store bought
• 36 Frozen, Unbaked Yeast Dough Rolls, recommended Rhodes™ White Dinner Rolls
• Olive Oil
• 2 Eggs, beaten

Preparation Steps

Step 1. Rinse the pork under cold running water and pat dry. Brush all surfaces of the ribs with the liquid smoke. Mix the dry rub and brown sugar together and coat the ribs, rubbing the dry mixture deep into the grain of the meat.

Step 2. Place the ribs in a slow cooker, cover and cook on low for 10 hours.

Step 3. Set a large mesh strainer or wire rack over a large bowl to catch the drips and transfer the cooked ribs from the slow cooker to the strainer or rack and let most of the liquid drip off. Move the meat to a cutting board then separate and discard any fat that didn’t melt during cooking. Shred the meat with a couple of forks and put the shredded meat in the bowl with the drained liquid. Add the liquid remaining in the slow cooker and stir in the barbeque sauce. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Step 4. 4½ hours before desired serving time remove the dough from the freezer and put the dough balls 1½” apart on lightly oiled parchment sheets. Brush or mist the balls with a light coat of olive oil and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside to allow the dough to defrost and rise for 3 hours.

Step 5. Remove the pulled pork from the refrigerator and stir to loosen.

Step 6. Roll a dough ball into a disk about 4 inches across. Roll 2 tablespoons of the pulled pork into a ball. Holding the dough in one hand, place the ball of meat in the center of the dough. Gently gather the edge of the dough together and twist to close the dough around the pork. Place the rolls, twisted “seam” side down, back on the oiled parchment sheets. Repeat with the remaining dough and pork then replace the plastic wrap on top of the balls and let rise for 30 minutes before baking. Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Step 7. Carefully transfer 12 of the rolls, seam side still down, to a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat or parchment paper. Brush the top and sides with the beaten egg and bake for 18 to 20 minutes until golden brown. Repeat with remaining two batches of rolls.

Serve warm or at room temperature and if desired provide a bowl of barbeque sauce for dipping.

Tips and Trending

~ Using shoulder cut country ribs saves some trimming time and lets us prepare a specific amount by weight. However, you can use any pork shoulder roast in this recipe. Just cut it up into smaller 2 x 2 x 6 inch chunks and trim away any very large bits of fat. If the roast has a bone, leave it intact and deal with it when you shred the cooked meat. You can also use the same recipe with a beef chuck shoulder roast or a brisket.

~ Recipe for BBQ Dry Rub – this will make more than you need for the above recipe. The unused portion can be stored for several months. Put all of the listed ingredients in a one cup airtight jar and shake to thoroughly combine.
• 2 Tablespoons Sweet Hungarian Paprika
• 2 Tablespoons Smoked Spanish Paprika, not the hot variety
• 2 Tablespoons Kosher Salt
• 2 Tablespoons Freshly Ground Black Pepper, coarsely ground
• 1 Tablespoon Garlic Powder
• 1 Tablespoon Dry Mustard

~ To make smaller one or two bite appetizers, cut the thawed dough balls in half then follow the directions for filling using only 1 tablespoon of the pulled pork per serving. Let the filled dough rise as above but reduce the baking time to 15 minutes.

~ One of the best kitchen inventions is the slow cooker liner! I still wash my slow cooker after using it, but it’s not a chore anymore. They are pretty much one-size-fits-all and although designed to be used in oval cookers, they work perfectly well in round units too. National brands, like Reynolds™, are commonly made from heat-resistant nylon resins and are free of Bisphenol A (BPA) making them safe for use with food and heat. 

~ The egg wash applied just before baking gives the buns a nice finish. But if you want to step that up a bit, glaze ‘em!  Mix 2 tablespoons of honey with 1 tablespoon of warm water. Let the buns cool for 5 minutes after coming out of the oven and then lightly brush with the honey mixture. Sprinkle just a few crystals of turbinado sugar (aka sugar in the raw) and some sea or flaked salt on top of the honey glaze. Aside from the obvious visuals, the honey glaze will keep the buns soft while they’re on the buffet table.

~ If you’re making these to take to a party, go ahead and bake them at home but don’t glaze them until you get where you’re going. If they’ve cooled completely when you arrive at the party, warm them up for 10 minutes in a 300ºF oven, and then apply the glaze. Be kind to your hosts and bring your own baking sheet(s) and other supplies. Then after you’ve done what you need to do in their kitchen, discreetly take your stuff, stash it away in the trunk of your car and wash it when you get home. The party hosts have enough to do without cleaning up after you too!


  1. Ted, I made pulled pork using your recipe (minus the rolls) for out hospital unit's potluck and it received rave reviews! It was my first foray into making this dish and I thank you! All six pounds of my pulled pork was devoured! Thanks again! Sincerely, Carl I.

  2. The BBQ dry rub is a blend of flavors that really make the pulled pork tasty and the liquid smoke adds another level of flavor. Yumm!