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Kirkland Signature Smoked Pulled Pork

with 8 comments

I love pork. I’m not sure if it was Anthony Bourdain or Homer Simpson who first declared the pig to be a magical animal, but both guys was dead on. Not only do I love pork in all its many guises, I especially love pulled pork. Slow roasted, smoked until that beautiful pink ring appears under the bark, and falling apart: I regard pork roasted until it is this tender to be evidence that the pig’s dying wish was for me to ingest it, basically carving itself for me to eat.

Sadly, I’ve found that my metabolism will not let me subsist entirely on pork. Believe me, dear reader, I tried my darnedest. I think in my early 20’s I could have swung it. But the need for fiber makes me turn, however sadly and defeated, to salad.

Cafe Rio‘s Sweet Pork Barbacoa used to be my go-to salad option. They are, however, incredibly large, expensive, and so much of both that I end up feeling guilty until I cram every last morsel down my gullet. And, as I considered the contents and their nutritional value, also not a terribly healthy choice, consisting of some greens on a bed of carbohydrate-stewed meat, two forms of carbs beside it, all wrapped in a giant carb-and-fat bowl. Oh, and topped with a heaping portion of crispy strips of fried carbs.

I hate salads more than I hate poison-fanged Nazis. Therefore, I figure that if I’m going to eat a salad, I may as well choose one that I’m going to be able to convince myself is healthy, thus scoring the mental nutritional points that will allow me to have, say, a tasty apple fritter from Dick’s Market up the street from me. And maybe chase it with ice cream.

Having failed to find a mass market salad that provides me with sufficient delusional powers, I make my own. These are no mere festival of greens, however. I find that I need substantial protein in the salad to keep me sated. For a long time, that meant some nice diced rotisserie chicken, often from Sam’s Club. Lately, however, I’m finding that I miss my pork barbacoa. Not wanting to spend hours making it, I’ve turned to pre-packed barbecue pork.

Lloyd’s was my first try, mostly because it was on sale. It is beyond sweet, has the consistency of meaty library paste, and overall gives the impression of being quite a bit more cheap, one-note sauce than is wise. I once cooked up a pound of chicken, cut it up, and put it into a new container to see how far the sauce in the package could be stretched. The frankenstein result was still too much sauce.

So, at Costco the other day, I spotted a package of Kirkland Signature Smoked Pulled Pork and wondered if it might make for a suitable substitute for the Lloyd’s pork. At first glance, it seemed like a poor choice at almost $10 (by the way, I would love see the market research that led to nearly everything Costco sells being priced at $9 and change. I suspect it’s a roller coaster of excitement) where the Lloyd’s was between $3-4. But I’ve had luck with Kirkland, which for the uninitiated is Costco’s house brand, so I took the plunge.

Out of the package, the news looked less than encouraging. Once the cardboard sleeve case is pulled aside, the product itself is revealed: a 2-pound square brick of meat, laminated in thick plastic, sitting in a plastic tray. From outside the plastic, the meat looks less than appetizing. Pink, brown, and vaguely green(!) bits of meat, large veins of a white, viscous fluid, all pressed roughly against the side of the plastic envelope. The overall effect? Katherine Helmond‘s facial scenes in Brazil. Ick. Off to a bad start, Kirkland.

Looks can be deceiving, however, I found after liberating product from the plastic, and hacking off a hunk of the pork brick, and warming it up. The meat was tender, and surprisingly flavorful. The smoke level was dead on for me. Kudos to the pitmaster who decided to leave out the artificial smoke flavors in favor of actually hickory smoking this particular piece of the noble animal. I’ve not yet decided if the white liquid was fat or congealed gelatin, but either way it’s quite welcome to my meal. The green bits turned out to be a trick of light refracting through the plastic; they were really just a lighter shade of beautiful brown meat. I mixed the little bit I’d warmed up with some bottled barbecue sauce and had a sandwich of it, and was already planning salad options for the next day.

For the salad, I put a good amount of meat in a pan and stuck it in the oven to warm up. My hope was that if I left it in there long enough, I could replicate some of the bark, my favorite pulled pork bits. Mission accomplished. The result had a bit of the appearance of the lean parts of bacon with about half the smoke and nowhere near the fat content. The ability to control how much sauce I use is a welcome improvement over Lloyd’s as well.

Suffice it to say, I’m quite pork-sated and happy. Although the Lloyd’s appeared to be more affordable at first glance, after having used a bit of the Kirkland pork, it’s clear that it will be the better buy. I’ve had two meals and barely put a dent in the meatblock. New piggy applications are already forming in my head.

8 Responses

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  1. I’d sure enjoy learning about some new ways to use it! What have you come up with?


    March 4, 2012 at 7:20pm

  2. Sandwiches seemed like the natural next stop, and it was lovely in those. I also found that with a bit of coaxing in the Asian direction, it worked very well as addition to stir fry. I wondered if the prominent smoke flavor might get in the way, but it only added to the ginger and garlic, and in particular brought out some really nice notes in the sesame oil.


    February 1, 2013 at 7:58am

  3. The Torta sandwich rolls — also sold at Costco — make fabulous pulled pork sandwiches, especially toasted. I’ve always loved pork but I am a very late discoverer of pulled pork in all its smokey, meaty glory. I have a lot of catching up to do.


    March 1, 2013 at 5:43pm

    • Those torta rolls soak up the juices from the pork really nicely, as well as any sauce you decide to use. Great idea.


      March 4, 2013 at 3:02pm

  4. I just made 3 meals in a row with the Kirkland Smoked Pulled Pork. 1st: Used the Costco Torta rolls and made sandwiches with some bottled bbq. 2nd: Stir Fried with shopped cabbage, shredded carrots, diced red pepper and minced waterchestnuts mixed with hoisin sauce and ginger and garlic. I ate it in lettuce cups instaed of asian pancakes as a take off on Mu Shu Pork. The Costco baby romaine is great for this. I might never order Mu Shu pork as take-out again – it was delicious. 3rd Meal: Warmed and mixed the pork with cumin, lime juice, and cayenne pepper (you could also use a taco seasoning) and ate as soft tacos with chopped cilantro, diced red onions and hot sauce. Brought me right back to Mexico. This pork is a huge value, super easy to portion out and usePaulson different ways. My new favorite


    July 1, 2013 at 10:07pm

  5. I suggest trying Sauer’s Barbecue Sauce on it … fabulous … its our old sauce from the restaurant years ago that the recipe was purchased by Sauer’s in Richmond,VA … you can order it on line 4 bottles for $16 and free shipping .. its a red based vinegary sauce quite unique.


    September 16, 2013 at 1:23pm

  6. It is good. The best I have found outside of a BBQ restaurant.


    February 8, 2014 at 4:21am

  7. I usually like the pulled pork from costco this last batch was 1/2 chunks of fat ! A little hard to return it after its cooked and open and I’m 8 hrs away working in the bush. Not impressed ! Anyone know the complaint line number for this product.

    Troy White

    September 7, 2016 at 12:48pm

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