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Recipe: Maple Pulled Pork & Brussels Sprouts for Sugaring Season 

click to enlarge Pulled Pork Flatbreads and Maple Brussels Sprouts - ANDY BRUMBAUGH
  • Andy Brumbaugh
  • Pulled Pork Flatbreads and Maple Brussels Sprouts

Because I grew up in Vermont, maple syrup holds a special place in my heart. One of my favorite recipes as a child was my grandmother's hot dogs with apples and maple syrup. A maple vinaigrette is one of my go-to salad dressings. Maple-roasted pecans? A delight. An antidote when my son, who is a type 1 diabetic, has low blood sugar? Mix some pure maple syrup in milk, and he's good to go. In my family, we are believers.

Recently, I made maple-roasted Brussels sprouts for lunch. My son smelled them and asked if he could have some. Of course I shared. He asked if there were more, to which I replied that I could make more. He proceeded to eat almost a whole pound of them by himself. This is my randomly picky child — who hates mayonnaise on sandwiches, who eschews raspberries on desserts, who thinks that mild is spicy — and he ate almost an entire pound of Brussels sprouts.

For this recipe, I decided to go all in with maple. Maple Brussels sprouts with maple pulled pork on flatbreads with a smoked Gouda sauce, topped with a maple-balsamic glaze. This recipe makes more than enough pork for the flatbreads, so you will have leftovers to use in sandwiches, pasta, or pulled pork mac and cheese.

I made the flatbreads from scratch, but you could use store-bought naan or another small flatbread. Nearly everything can be made ahead of time, then assembled and finished under the broiler when ready to serve.

I have a love of kitchen gadgetry, so I made my flatbread dough in my bread machine, my pork in the Instant Pot and the Brussels sprouts in the air fryer. Alternatively, you could make the flatbread dough in a stand mixer or by hand, the pork in an old-fashioned Crock-Pot, and the Brussels sprouts in the oven.

This recipe has a lot of steps, but trust me, it's worth it. It should go without saying that only the real maple syrup will do here. After all, it's sugaring season in Vermont.

Pulled Pork Flatbreads and Maple Brussels Sprouts

(makes 8 flatbreads)

Ingredients:

For the flatbread:

  • 3¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast

For the maple pulled pork:

  • 3-pound boneless pork loin
  • ¾ cup maple syrup
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

For the maple Brussels sprouts:

  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, thawed if frozen
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons maple syrup

For the smoked Gouda sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 cup coarsely shredded smoked Gouda

For the maple-balsamic drizzle:

  • ¼ cup balsamic glaze (store-bought balsamic vinegar reduction)
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • thinly shaved red onions for topping (optional)

Directions:

To make the flatbread dough:

  1. Mix ingredients in either a bread machine or a stand mixer. Knead until a soft, pliable dough forms. If it is too sticky, add a little more flour. If it is too dry, add a little water. If making the dough in a bread machine, allow to go through the dough cycle. If making by hand, put the dough in an oiled bowl and cover with oiled plastic wrap for about 1 hour.
  2. Punch dough down after this rise and divide into 8 equal balls. Allow to rest, covering the balls for about 10 minutes with a towel. Roll out on a well-floured surface until they are about 1/8-inch thick and 8 inches round. Cover the circles with a cloth while you roll the remaining dough.
  3. Heat a heavy skillet (cast-iron works well) on high heat, or a large electric griddle to 400 degrees. Brush with oil and cook the flatbreads until golden and bubbly, with darker brown spots, about two minutes per side. Cover with a cloth until ready to use. (If you are making these ahead of time, they freeze well. Just wrap individually in plastic wrap or foil and thaw in the refrigerator when ready to use.)

For the maple pulled pork:

  1. Put the pork in the bottom of a pressure cooker or Crock-Pot (no need to cut it up).
  2. Mix together remaining ingredients and pour over the pork. If cooking in a Crock-Pot, cook on low for 7-9 hours, or until it falls apart easily when you try to shred it with a fork. If cooking in a pressure cooker, cook on high pressure for 40 minutes, with a 10-minute natural release.
  3. Remove lid carefully and, using tongs, transfer meat to a stand mixer.
  4. Using the paddle attachment, shred the meat. If you do not have a stand mixer, you can shred it with two forks.
  5. Return meat to the pot until ready to use, stirring to allow it to soak up the sauce. (Store leftover meat in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 4 days, or freeze for up to 2-3 months.)

For the maple-roasted Brussels sprouts:

  1. Cut Brussels sprouts into quarters (or smaller pieces, if you have large ones). You want your pieces to be about 1/4-1/2 inches.
  2. Toss with ¼ cup maple syrup and roast on a well-oiled sheet pan for about 20 minutes at 425 degrees, or in an air fryer for 15 minutes at 400 degrees.
  3. Remove and toss with remaining 2 tablespoons syrup.

For the smoked Gouda sauce:

  1. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat.
  2. Whisk in the flour and cook until lightly brown.
  3. Add the milk and bring to a boil, stirring constantly for about 4 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in the cream and cheese until melted. (It's OK if there are some small, unmelted bits of cheese.)
  5. Cover with plastic wrap until ready to use.

For the maple-balsamic drizzle:

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the syrup and the balsamic glaze until well-incorporated. Put aside until ready to use.

To assemble:

  1. Preheat the broiler.
  2. Line a baking sheet with tinfoil, then arrange as many flatbreads as fit on the pan (my full sheet pan holds 4).
  3. Top each with about 2-3 tablespoons of smoked Gouda sauce, about ¼ cup of maple Brussels sprouts and ¼ cup of maple pulled pork. If desired, sprinkle a little shaved red onion over the top.
  4. Broil the flatbreads for about 4 minutes, or until the meat is a little crispy but the bread is not burned.
  5. Remove from oven and top with maple-balsamic drizzle.
  6. Repeat with remaining flatbreads.
  7. Serve and enjoy!

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