Instant Pot,  Main,  Pork,  Slow Cooker

Bourbon BBQ Pulled Pork Nachos

Did you know that Cinco de Mayo and the Kentucky Derby fall on the same day this year? That’s right, this Saturday we get to both celebrate and honor Mexican-American culture and one of America’s favorite horse racing events on the same day.  When I realized these two holidays – and all their associated food traditions would converge – I immediately began imagining how I could honor both in one meal. The answer? Bourbon BBQ Pulled Pork Nachos.

I once read a food critic review that said, “You can’t hate eat nachos.” And I think he was right.  Nachos make people happy. They’re social. They’re messy. Eating them inevitably leads to giggles as you try to (not so gracefully) scoop all the toppings into your mouth. So if you want to make something festive for your loved ones for “Derby de Mayo,” give this dish a try!

Bourbon BBQ Sauce

  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ½ cup bourbon (don’t go wasting any fancy stuff here)
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar (plus more if sauce is too thick)
  • 3 tbs tomato paste
  • 2 tbs liquid smoke
  • 1 tbs Worchestershire sauce
  • 2 tbs chipotles in adobo sauce
  • 3 tbs brown sugar

Saute onion in oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add rest of ingredients, stir together and bring to a simmer. Lower heat to medium-low if overboiling.  Cook together for 10 minutes to join flavors. Sauce should look like thick ketchup – if too thick, add a splash of apple cider vinegar. Taste, season with Salt and Pepper as desired.  Sauce should be tart, smoky, slightly sour and with a little heat. Feel free to add additional adobo sauce or red pepper flakes if you want more heat.

Remove saucepan from heat.  Allow sauce to cool slightly.  Store in glass container until ready to use.  (If you can, make this the night before to allow flavors to further meld together.)

Bourbon BBQ Shredded Pork

  • A 2-pound Boston Butt/Pork Butt (this is a cut of pork, the upper portion of the shoulder)
  • 1 recipe of Bourbon BBQ Sauce (see above)
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper

Instant Pot Version (see Slow Cooker instructions below)

Wash and dry pork butt.  Season generously with salt and butter.

Turn machine on Saute (High) function.  Pour in one tbs of olive oil to coat bottom. Once oil is hot, put pork in pan to sear for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown.  Turn pork and repeat searing process on all sides. Pour Bourbon BBQ sauce over pork and use back of spoon to spread out over all of pork.  Close and lock lid. Hit Cancel and switch function to Pressure Cook on high for 90 minutes. Make sure pressure lock is on. Once cooking cycle is complete, allow pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes, then follow machine instructions to force release remaining pressure.

Remove pork to a plate and use two forks to shred meat.  Return meat to pot, turn on Low Saute function and allow pork and sauce to simmer until sauce has reduced and is slightly thick.  Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. This is a stage where you can add more apple cider vinegar if you want a more sour pork, more bourbon if you want more kick, and of course more salt, pepper and red chili pepper flakes if you want more heat.

Keep warm until ready to use.  (This pork can also be made ahead, refrigerated overnight, and reheated on medium heat over the stove, if you prefer.)

Slower Cooker Version

Wash and dry pork butt.  Season generously with salt and butter.

Place large saute pan on stove and turn heat to medium-high.  Add on tbs of olive oil and swirl to coat bottom. Once oil is hot, put pork in pan to sear for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown.  Turn pork and repeat searing process on all sides. Remove pork and place in slow cooker. (Optional: Use a tbs of apple cider vinegar to deglaze pan.  Scrape up browned bits and add to slow cooker). Pour Bourbon BBQ sauce over pork and use back of spoon to spread out over all of pork. Put lid on slow cooker and cook on low heat setting for 8 hours.

Remove pork to a plate and use two forks to shred meat. Return shredded meat to slow cooker and allow to baste in sauce until ready to use. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.  If sauce is too thin, you can transfer meat and sauce to a saucepan on the stove over medium-low heat. Allow sauce to simmer and reduce to desired consistency. Again, taste and adjust seasonings as desired.

Sheet Pan Nachos

This makes enough pulled pork to serve a crowd, for sure.   So these instructions are for making a large serving of sheet pan nachos.  If you like easy clean up (because who doesn’t?!), line your sheet pan with foil before assembly.  And feel free to change up the toppings to your desire – below is just a suggestion based on flavors I like and convenience where possible.

  • 1 bag of your favorite corn tortilla chips
  • 1/2 recipe of Bourbon BBQ Pulled Pork
  • 2 cups (8 oz.) of your favorite shredded cheese (I like mozzarella with pork; most pre-shredded bags of cheese at the grocery store are 8 oz. Feel free to pick up one of these to make your life easy!)
  • 1 cup fresh salsa or pico de gallo
  • 1 avocado, cubed, or 1/2 cup of your favorite guacamole
  • 1-2 cups shredded lettuce (romaine or iceberg are best since they’re crisp)
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, washed, dried, and chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, sliced
  • Other toppings you might like: cumin black beans and onions, pineapple salsa, cilantro pesto, sour cream

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Scatter half the bag of chips over sheet pan.  Use tongs to dot desired amount of shredded pork over chips.  Scatter with 1 cup of shredded cheese. Repeat layers with remaining chips, pork and cheese.

Place pan on middle rack of oven and bake for 4-5 minutes, or until cheese has melted.  Keep a close eye on this, as you don’t want to burn the chips.

Remove from oven and scatter remaining desired toppings over chips.  Serve and commence joyful eating.

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