Take a big honkin’ bite out of one of these and you’ll soon know why it’s the Hard Rock Cafe’s most popular sandwich. According to the menu the pork is hickory smoked for 10 hours. But since we’re impatient hungry people here, we’ll cut that cooking time down to under 4 hours using a covered grill and carefully arranged charcoal. Just sprinkle wet hickory chips over the hot charcoal arranged around the inside edge of a grill (such as a round Weber), and let the smoking begin. You can certainly use an actual smoker if you’ve got one, and go the full 10 hours with this puppy. But while you’re still waiting for your sandwiches, the rest of us will have already dragged our full, round bellies over to the couch for a nap. By the way, make your marinated cabbage a day ahead of time, if you have the foresight.
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
4 cups thinly-sliced cabbage
4 cups hickory smoking chips
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon ground sage
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 boneless pork loin roast (3 to 4 pounds)
2 15-ounce cans tomato puree
1 cup white vinegar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke (hickory)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
8 Kaiser rolls
1. Make the marinated cabbage at least one day prior to building your sandwiches. Like cole slaw, this garnish needs some time to develop in the fridge. Combine the vinegar and sugar in a medium bowl. Add the cabbage, stir, cover the bowl and store it in the refrigerator until you are ready to make the sandwiches.
2. Put the wood chips in a bowl and cover with water. Let the wood soak for at least 1 hour. Light the charcoal after it has been arranged around the inside edge of your grill. You don’t want coals directly under your pork. When the coals are hot, drain the water from the wood chips and sprinkle the chips over the top of the coals. You should now have smoke.
3. Combine the spices for the rub in a small bowl and mix well.
4. Rub some vegetable oil over the surface of the pork roast. Sprinkle the spices over the entire surface of the roast.
5. Place the roast in the center of your grill and put the lid on. Let the pork cook for 3 to 4 hours or until the internal temperature of the roast reaches 175 to 180 degrees.
6. As the pork cooks, make the sauce by combining the ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium/low heat. Let the sauce simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, then cover and remove from heat. Set this aside until your pork is ready.
7. When the pork is done, remove it from the grill and let it sit to cool for 15 to 20 minutes or until you can handle it. Now you want to tear the meat along the grain, making bite-size strips of shredded pork.
8. Put the shredded pork into a large saucepan over medium heat. Add 2 cups of the sauce to the pan and stir. Keep the rest of the sauce for later to serve on the side. Cook the pork for 15 minutes or until it is heated through.
9. Grill the faces of the rolls and stack about 1 cup of pork onto the bottom half of each roll. Add a rounded tablespoon of marinated cabbage on top of the pork, add a tablespoon or so of extra sauce on top of that, then cap off each sandwich with the top half of the roll. Serve with clones for the Hard Rock’s cole slaw and baked beans on the side, if desired.
Makes 8 sandwiches.