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what to serve with pulled pork?

I'm cooking for my BFF's baby shower this weekend & am second guessing my menu. It's co-ed, child-friendly, with about 60 invitees & happening at 1 pm so the main dish will be a smoked pork shoulder pulled to make make sliders with. It will be sans sauce because mama-to-be hates sauce but I will have some off to the side to those who like it.

I planned on having these sides:
potato salad
coleslaw
fruit salsa with cinnamon sugar pita chips (said mama-to-be loves this recipe so it stays no matter what!)
garden salad (lettuce, tomato, black olives, carrots, red peppers, etc...)
baked beans
macaroni salad

along with water and soda, I'll be providing sweet tea & lemonade for refreshments. there won't be any alcohol/beer/wine available per MTB's request. and grandma-to-be is providing a cake.

I'm realizing this all sounds just a bit heavy and boringly predictable &, frankly, like a lot of work. I happen to be moving the night before the baby shower so I'm trying to streamline my workload along with freshening up the menu.

I'm open to any/all suggestions y'all might have. I've been a long time board lurker & trust that there will be some great ideas I haven't thought of!

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  1. Get 3 pork shoulders.

    Ice cream in a cooler with dry ice. The kids will love the "smoke".

    Get the potato salad, coleslaw, and macaroni salad from the supermarket. Serve in beautiful bowls with some fresh lemon juice stirred in at the last minute to pep it up. Do the bake beans a day or two ahead. They improve with age. I use the insert from my crockpot. Premake a relish tray for guests to adorn their own salads. Use the premixed bags of salads and present in your salad bowl.

    I also have thrown farewell parties the night before a move. ( Packers won't pack booze.) I have learned the hard way not to do everything from scratch.

    Besides, who should be the center of attention? The MTB or what is on the plate?

    Don't forget to enjoy your own party and congrats to the Mother-To-Be!

    1. I don't think you need potato salad AND macaroni salad. I think if you just choose one and make a larger helping, you'll be saving yourself a LOT of grief.

      And then if you want to add something a bit new and different, perhaps replace the coleslaw with a broccoli slaw. It's really delicious but a bit less expected, plus it would be more different from the salad than cole slaw would be. I've seen some versions that are bacon-based, but my favorite has shallots, almonds and raisins and a sweetened mayo-based dressing.

      2 Replies
      1. re: katecm

        Don't people sometimes put the slaw on their sandwiches though? Would that screw it up if you changed from traditional? However, I think a broccoli salad would be a great idea as a sub to the mac salad.

        1. re: katecm

          I have really become a convert to broccoli slaw too. If you want it fresh and do not want to whip up ingredients for the sauce, I find that Marzetti's makes a pretty decent slaw sauce.

        2. I agree that is a very heavy menu.

          It looks like you have three mayo based salads. I would keep the coleslaw ( so traditional with pulled pork!) and *maybe* keep the potato salad- but ditch the macaroni salad in favor of a big (easy) raw veggie/seedy cracker plate with a few creative and healthy dips/spreads.

          Dips/spreads are so easy and quick in the food processor- with a million recipes for healthy, lighter ones over the net. You could do two or three unique ones in a flash. I love black soy bean or regular black bean with tahini and spices...or a Tuscan white bean one....or an artichoke walnut ricotta one, etc. These are also really good with blanched asparagus or green beans(also quick and easy to prepare).

          If you really feel like you need baked beans, I would save some time by purchasing the beans and doctoring them up. Or maybe choose between the beans and the potato salad (just pick one starchy dish) to lighten it up.

          1. Wow, 60 people. Is it sit down or buffet style? Seems like alot of people to serve pulled pork sliders. How many sliders are you figuring per person? How many rolls? I would not have the capability to have that many pork butts going at one time, how are you cooking them?

            If you are set on serving a single main, then I would keep all the sides as filler. I have no problem with cole slaw, beans, potato, mac and garden salad. We do it all the time for bbqs in our family. If it were me, I would add another main, maybe something kid friendly?

            1. An idea due to your mentioning children would be something like applesauce or sliced apples with caramel dipping sauce. From my experience with a picky three year old, the only thing I could feed her on your menu unfortunately would be the slider buns and the cinnamon pita chips.

              1. Cook the pulled pork in advance and freeze in several bags (to avoid having a huge chunk of frozen pork). Defrost the day before. Bake on low heat in baking dishes with beer (or NA beer if you are afraid of alcohol not cooking off) to keep the meat moist.

                Here's the recipe I use:

                http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/da...

                Baked beans can be made in advance and frozen as well. Reheat in crock pot. Here's my favorite recipe.

                http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/da... (from the same episode as the braised pork

                )

                I have a recipe for non-creamy coleslaw that is better on the 2nd or 3rd day. Goes really well on the pulled pork sandwiches.

                http://buttermilkgrossesmeout.blogspo...

                Refrigerator pickles are nice with bbq. Make a month in advance, keep in the fridge and they will get better with age. I use the kosher Ball mix at the grocery store.

                Maybe instead of potato salad, get some high quality thick cut kettle potato chips. Sam's Club has a variety called Utz's Mystic Chips that are yummy and addictive. Slightly more gourmet than Lay's or Ruffles. Picky eaters will always eat potato chips.

                Sounds like a fun party. You are a saint to take this on the day after a move.

                4 Replies
                1. re: mtoo

                  Mtoo, when you freeze the pulled pork, do you shred it first, or just cut it up? Do you add the sauce before freezing? Does it get dry when it defrosts, meaning do you add more sauce when reheating?

                  1. re: Jerseygirl111

                    I shred it in big chunks. The pork will break down more in the reheat, and I don't want mushy overly broken down pieces. No sauce before freezing, but I use a Food Saver to make sure I get as much air out of it as possible. I throw a beer in for the reheat, but never have attempted it dry, so I don't know how that would work out. I prefer to reheat in the oven as opposed to a crockpot, because I feel like the oven preserves the texture while the crockpot steams it and makes it a little less toothsome. I have reheated small portions of the pulled pork on the stove in a pan with bbq sauce with good results. The key is to make sure you don't stir too much end up shredding it to pieces. (Oh how I hate overly shredded pork.)

                    1. re: mtoo

                      Agree with the overly shredded, turns to mush! I don't have a food saver, do you think I'd be able to freeze in a freezer safe plastic container?

                      1. re: Jerseygirl111

                        I think you would be able to get more air out with a Ziplock freezer bag. I think a plastic container would give you too many air pockets and places for ice crystals to develop. You can kind of squish the air out of a Ziplock before sealing it.

                        (Also, to clarify, Dave Lieberman puts all the meat in the bbq sauce. I don't like to do that. I prefer the sauce on the side when the meat is served.)