'Ultimate BLT' – stuffed barbecue pork buns with lettuce and tomato

  • medium
  • Makes approx. 12 buns, with leftover pork
  • 1 hour 15 minutes

A BLT like you've never seen before, these little spheres contain meltingly tender pulled pork shoulder, served with baby gem lettuce and a crisp tomato slice. A brilliant mashup of low-and-slow American barbecue flavours, but served as a refined dinner party snack or starter.

Richard uses an aebleskiver pan to get his buns perfectly round, but you could also use a Yorkshire pudding tin on the hob at home. You can also cook the pork in the oven or on the barbecue, depending what the weather's looking like!

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First published in 2021





  • 1kg pork shoulder, bone in and skin removed
  • 2 tbsp of barbecue sauce, Richard uses his own elderflower barbecue sauce which is available to buy from his restaurant
  • 1 tbsp of cider vinegar, or white wine vinegar

Spice rub

Bun batter

Dried tomato

To garnish


  • Electric hand whisk, or stand mixer
  • Aebleskiver pan, or Yorkshire pudding tray


Begin cooking the pork earlier on in the day, as it takes around 5 hours to cook. Take the pork out of the fridge and leave to come to room temperature for around 1 hour and preheat an oven to 120°C/gas mark ½. If you have a lidded barbecue suited for indirect cooking that you can control the temperature with, you could also of course use this – if so, light it and wait for it to come to 120°C
Mix together all the ingredients for the spice rub. Pack most of the spice mix all over the meat, ensuring it is liberally coated all over, then (if cooking in the oven) place a large sheet of foil on a work surface. Mix together the vinegar and barbecue sauce, then spoon half of it onto the centre of the foil. Place the pork on top, fat-side up, then pour over the rest of the barbecue sauce mixture
Wrap the pork tightly in foil, place in a deep-sided roasting tray and add a cupful of water (or beer). Place in the oven and cook for 4 hours. If cooking on a barbecue, spoon the sauce over the pork and place it into the barbecue (there's no need for foil). Close the lid, keep an eye on the temperature and cook for 4 hours
Once the pork is in, prepare the tomato slices. Place the water, sugar and salt in a pan and simmer for 5 minutes, or until the salt and sugar have dissolved to create a savoury stock syrup. Dip the slices of tomato in the syrup, then place on a tray lined with baking paper. Put them in the oven along with the pork. Cook until dry and crisp (around 2 hours)
While the pork cooks, make the batter. Whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks using a stand mixer or electric whisk. While they’re whisking, place the egg yolks, flour, cream and melted butter in a bowl and season with a pinch of salt, some white pepper and Old Bay seasoning. Fold together to form a thick paste
Once the whites have formed stiff peaks, incorporate them into the batter paste a spoonful at a time. Beat in the first few spoonfuls, then gently fold in the last few spoonfuls. You should have a batter that resembles a Yorkshire pudding or cake batter. Cover and set aside to rest at room temperature until the pork is ready
Once the pork is cooked and very soft to the touch, it’s ready. If you’ve used an oven to cook it, unwrap the pork, increase the heat to 220°C/gas mark 7 and cook for a further 20-30 minutes to caramelise the exterior. Allow to rest for around 10 minutes until cool enough to handle, then remove the bone and shred the meat down using your hands
Roll the pork into dense balls weighing approx. 20g each. You will have more pork than you need, but it freezes well and can be used in all sorts of other dishes
Give the rested batter another quick whisk, preheat the oven to 160°C/gas mark 3 and place an aebleskiver pan over a medium heat (you could also use a Yorkshire pudding tin). Oil the dimples in the pan well, then add a spoonful of the batter into each one
  • vegetable oil, for greasing
As the batter begins to set, start turning them on their sides to start forming a sphere. Add a small teaspoon more of mixture to each one, then nestle a ball of pork into the centre. Continue to cook until there is cooked batter all the way around the pork
Transfer the buns to the oven and cook for 4 minutes, turning halfway through, to finish cooking, then dust with a little extra Old Bay seasoning
To serve, place a dot of barbecue sauce on the plate, then top with a nest of shredded lettuce. Place a pork bun on top, add another dot of barbecue sauce and finish with a slice of dried tomato
First published in 2021

With a background in classical cooking in Michelin-starred kitchens, Richard Bainbridge returned to his home city of Norwich to open Benedicts, a renowned restaurant which serves Norfolk produce cooked with passion, playfulness and creativity.

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