When it comes to the best bread for the pulled pork sandwich, deciding is easier said than done. This American delicacy derives from the southern United States. A meal is often associated with Saturday night BBQ, your favorite beer, and a few good friends.
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A delicious, slow-cooked pork shoulder is cooked until it pulls apart. It should be shredded and slow-roasted with your favorite barbecue sauce and topped with your favorite condiments. Some pulled pork sandwich condiments my family uses are mustard, jalapeños, extra barbecue, and crispy onions, with a bun that complements and doesn’t overpower the pulled pork mixture.
How Do You Choose?
When it comes to choosing the perfect bun, it is somewhat a science. The perfect pulled pork buns have to be dense enough to hold the ideal ratio of pulled pork without tearing.
It must be enough to fill you up, without consuming your weight in yeast. The perfect bread will not mush moments after placing the pork on the bun. Most buns will not meet all these requirements. Read on for a few buns that cause controversy at every backyard BBQ.
There’s No Better Than Homemade!
Despite all the types of buns in your nearest market, aren’t the perfect buns always homemade? My mom always made rolls on top of rolls. With every meal came the perfect roll. Without a doubt, she always knew what best complemented our dinner for the night.
Hamburger steaks and gravy with a light, fluffy dinner roll. Sausage and eggs with a dense, delicious biscuit. Steak and potatoes with homemade Texas toast. My mom has many special skills, but her bread knowledge has to be at the top.
When it came to rolls for pulled pork, she always made homemade ciabatta bread rolls. A bread that fits every requirement and added a delicious taste. Ciabatta bread rolls are dense enough to support the weight, with enough mass to fill you up. And they won’t get soggy in between making and eating the sandwich.
I wouldn’t tell you how perfect and miraculous something is without sharing it. So below I will give you the recipe for my mom’s ciabatta bread rolls!
Buns for Pulled Pork: Ciabatta Bread Rolls
Ciabatta Bread Rolls
- 8 ½ cups bread flour
- ½ tsp instant yeast
- 1 tbsp salt
- 4 cups water
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- In a large bowl, put 6 ½ cups of bread flour, the instant yeast, and 3 cups of water. Use a wooden spoon and mix until all the lumps are gone. This mixture will be very sticky.
- Cover with a lightweight cloth and place in the refrigerator for 16-24 hours (can do as little as 12 hours. Keep in mind the longer it rests, the stronger and better the taste.)
- Take the bowl out of the fridge, add 1 cup water to the mixture and transfer to another large bowl (or stand up mixer if you have one).
- Add 2 cups of flour and salt. Begin beating the mixture on a low setting for 1 minute. Gradually turn the speed up, beating mixture for another 6 minutes or until dough begins releasing from the wall of the bowl.
- After washing the first large bowl you had transferred the dough from, gently rub olive oil around the edges of the bowl. Make sure it’s evenly coated.
- Using a non-stick or oiled down spatula, fold the dough and place a lightweight cloth over it and let rest for another 45 minutes. Fold the dough over one more time and let rise for the final 45 minutes.
- Use an abundance of flour (don’t go too light!) and rub your counter space down. Lightly take the doughy mixture out of the bowl and place it on the counter. *Be careful here to ensure you won’t knock air bubbles out of the dough. You don’t want to ruin the texture.
- Apply flour to the top of the dough, again don’t be greedy. Gently form a square with the mixture, using a side to side motion. *Be sure not to apply too much pressure to the top of the dough.
- Cut dough into approximately 3.5 x 3.5 squares. Keep flour close by in case of the dough getting sticky while cutting.
- Manipulate into squares. Grab a baking sheet and lay a lightweight cloth down and coat heavily with flour. Gently grab rolls and place on baking sheet pushing cloth up around the edges of rolls for support. Place another lightweight cloth over the top and let rest for 20 minutes.
- Move the rack into the oven on the bottom shelf. Preheat the oven to 415°F (212°C). Place parchment paper on another baking sheet and transfer rolls to baking sheet. Shake off excess flour. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until internal bread temperature is 210°F (98°C).
Homemade Bread Is Hard
Making your rolls for pulled pork is sometimes time-consuming. It’s well worth it, but we don’t all have time to spend days preparing bread. Although my mother’s recipe is rather easy and quick, sometimes I can’t find even five extra minutes in a day. Between work, social life, and being a mom, it’s hard to juggle my time. So sometimes no matter how much I want to, I don’t have time to make these ciabatta rolls.
No Time. No Problem!
When I don’t have time to make my rolls for my Saturday BBQ, I often get flustered — thinking about how to decide on the perfect rolls for pulled pork. So at my last BBQ, I set out to find the answer to just that.
First, I bought multiple different types of buns for pulled pork sandwiches. I sat my family down and we decided on the perfect quick-fix bun. I only bought buns I knew passed most of the qualifications for the perfect bun.
Let’s Go, Classic?
The first pulled pork bun I used was an everyday dinner roll out of the freezer section of my local grocery store. As long as you get the right brand, it will pass the density test. Not too hard, but enough to hold the pork. These sort of rolls are often small, though. So you may have to have two or three on top of all the sides to be satisfied.
Some brands of dinner rolls will mush due to how fluffy and soft they are. Although some work just fine. The taste of the roll, even though used as a bun, was just fine. Buttery rolls work well with the pulled pork. So, I’d say this roll met 3 out of 4 qualifications.
Could It Be Brioche?
I went to a local bakery and bought Brioche bread. This bread holds up due to the size of the bread, being a French pastry bread. Due to the high-fat content, it’s also a fluffy bread. It may be a little too much bread for my liking.
Though, being plenty big in size, it is also very filling. It will melt some due to being fluffy, but the outside stays hard so that it will withstand the juices. The taste was alright, not my favorite. It meets all four requirements. If you are a dough lover and enjoy the extra bread, I would say this is your type of bread. It’s just not my cup of tea.
Is It That Texas Twang?
I then tried toasted Texas Toast as my next bread. I toasted the bread in a cast-iron skillet with my favorite garlic butter. As long as it’s toasted, it holds the pulled pork well. If the bread wasn’t toasted, the pulled pork sandwich would fall apart and be a mess. It tasted terrific with garlic toast.
The only problem is that with the garlic toast, you need to eat it right away. When the bread sits too long, it gets pretty stale and is not pleasant. So it would be too hard to do on Saturday night BBQ. It met all four guidelines, but you can’t make them en masse. It is my go-to if it’s just my family and me.
Must Be Sourdough?
The last bread I used was sourdough buns. They were dense enough to fit the role, with a great bread to pulled pork ratio. They didn’t get mushy at all between making and eating. I feel biased to say anything wrong about sourdough rolls.
But, I simply don’t enjoy sourdough, I have never been a fan of the taste. It met all four of the components, and the bakers did a beautiful job making them. I just don’t enjoy the taste. If you enjoy sourdough, as my mom and sister do, you’ll love it with pork.
Throughout this experiment, I learned a few things. One of my favorites will always be homemade ciabatta buns that my mom has made since I was a child. They give this meal a whole nother charm. Also, dinner rolls taste good and work well if you buy the right type.
Texas toast is delicious if you’re feeding less than five. Sourdough is a great option if you enjoy the taste of it outside of the pulled pork sandwich. The biggest thing I took from it is that there’s no one candidate that holds the name of the best-pulled pork bun.