In The Kentucky Fresh Cookbook, Maggie Green offers up not only delicious, seasonal recipes using fresh, local ingredients, but also provides menus to make holiday planning easy. For a classic, Kentucky-proud celebration, Maggie’s menu includes:
- Ale-8 One Slow Cooker Pork Barbecue with Brown Sugar Bourbon Barbecue Sauce
- Sweet and Sour Creamy Coleslaw
- Cornmeal-Crusted Fried Green Tomatoes
- Nina’s Potato Salad
- Sweet Bourbon Baked Beans
- Buttermilk Black-‘n’-Blue Berry Cobbler
- and Fresh Herbed Lemonade, Sweet Iced Tea, or mix ’em up in an Arnold Palmer
You’ll find a personal favorite of ours below, or a printable version of the recipes on Maggie’s menu here. For more great meals (and recipes), The Kentucky Fresh Cookbook is available wherever fine books are sold.
Succulent Pork Barbecue
Every Kentucky cook needs a good pork barbecue recipe up his or her sleeve, and I have learned several juicy tips over the years.
First, a bit of terminology: the best meat for pork barbecue is an economical, rectangular roast from the top part of the pig’s shoulder called Boston butt, Boston roast, fresh pork butt, or Boston-style butt. (Don’t ask me why a pork shoulder is called a butt.) Pork shoulder is sold bone-in or boneless, in sizes ranging from 4 to 8 pounds. I consider this cut the chicken thigh of a pig—the meat is moist, dark, and distinctive. The well-exercised muscles in the shoulder crisscross around a bone and are supported by collagen and tendons, with fat marbled throughout. Because of this hodgepodge of muscle, tendon, and collagen, the meat has to be coaxed into tenderness. Given enough time to cook, though, it shreds easily for the best pulled pork barbecue around.
The flavor varies, depending on the method of cooking—smoked, oven-roasted, or slow cooked—but the end result will be fork-tender goodness. What does fork tender mean? Poke a fork in the cooked pork and twist: the meat shouldn’t feel tight, and it readily falls apart.
Ale-8 One Slow Cooker Pork Barbecue
Nothing holds a candle to home-smoked meat, but this slow-cooked version works in a pinch—a large pinch piled high on a bun, that is. It uses Kentucky’s own soft drink, Ale-8 One. This spicy soda, bottled in Winchester since 1926, is sold around the state. If Ale-8 One isn’t available, substitute a spicy ginger ale. Just like a true, wood-fired smoking process, low and slow is the rule. For best results, start early in the morning or let the pork slow-cook overnight. In my (oblong) slow cooker set on low, the pork takes about 11 hours to reach a fork-tender state. Check the tenderness of the meat after about 10 hours to gauge how quickly or slowly your slow cooker cooks.
Makes about 12 servings
- 1 large onion, thinly sliced
- One 4- to 4.-pound pork shoulder or Boston butt pork roast
- One 12-ounce can Ale-8 One
- 2 tablespoons Barbecue Dry Rub
- 2 cups Brown Sugar Bourbon Barbecue Sauce, or the barbecue sauce of your choice
Place half the onion in the bottom of a slow cooker. Lay the pork shoulder on top of the onion. Pour the soda over the pork and sprinkle with the dry rub and remaining onion. Cover and cook on low for 11 hours. At this point, the meat should be fork tender, which happens when the internal temperature reaches about 200 degrees F. If it’s not fork tender, turn the meat over, cover, and cook for 1 to 2 more hours. When the pork is done, place it on a platter and shred and chop the meat. Keep the meat warm, and serve the barbecue sauce warm on the side. Alternatively, discard the juice from the slow cooker and place the meat back in it. Mix in the barbecue sauce and warm before serving.
Brown Sugar Bourbon Barbecue Sauce
This sweet sauce, flavored with bourbon, is inspired by a recipe I developed for Barbara Smith.
Makes about 4 cups.
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
- 1 cup ketchup
- One 12-ounce bottle chili sauce
- 1/2 cup Kentucky bourbon
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 cup Kentucky sorghum or molasses
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1⁄8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
In a saucepan, heat the canola oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the ketchup, chili sauce, bourbon, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, sorghum, vinegar, and cayenne pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes. Serve warm, or let cool and store in glass jars in the refrigerator.