This week I reached out for a Memphis BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich from the No. 2 burger flipper, Burger King, with 12,300 restaurants in 50 states plus 76 international markets.
Take that, McDonald's and your McRib -- now Burger King is getting porky, too.
Here's the blueprint: tender pulled pork with hickory-smoke Memphis-style barbecue sauce, topped with sliced onions and a "sweet Southern sauce" (more about this later) on a toasted artisan bun.
Total calories: 470. Fat grams: 16. Sodium: 1,420 mg. Dietary fiber: 1 g. Carbs: 61 g. Manufacturer's suggested retail price: $3.49.
Before we pass judgment, let's fix this sandwich's wagon. This isn't really pulled pork, like on "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives," where a crusty barbecue cook tears into a massive piece of smoked pork butt with his own two hands. Don't worry, pork butt is really the shoulder of the pig.
Burger King's version of pulled pork is more like those tubs of Lloyd's shredded pork in the supermarket ... next to the hot dogs and honey ham. Shredded pork in sauce is really good stuff, by the way. OK, maybe there's too much sauce and not enough shredded pork.
Burger King is not slow-roasting pork butts in its restaurants. The meat is smoked, pulled (shredded) and steeped in sauce off-campus and warmed up at Burger King. Leave pulling pork to the experts. Burger King, stick with what you do best -- flame-broiling burgers.
The pork is slathered on the bun like a sloppy joe. The sauce is sweet and just a touch tangy. It sure tastes like Sweet Baby Ray's barbecue sauce to me. That's a good thing. We like familiar retail brands in the drive-thru.
Here's where Burger King calls an audible: the "sweet Southern sauce" -- it's white and looks, tastes and drips like mayonnaise. Hmm, suspicious, because doesn't an authentic Memphis pulled pork sandwich have cole slaw on top?
A shmear of cole-slaw sauce takes its place in Burger King's rendition of the famed sandwich. The crunch of cabbage would have been a welcome plus. Don't mess with a legend, BK.
The sliced onions are unnecessary. Next time you're in a drive-thru, look at the ground. The No. 1 thing customers forget to say is, "No onions." Out the window they go.
The split-top artisan bun is excellent. It's the same bun Burger King uses for its line of premium Chef's Choice burgers. The bread is soft inside, so it sops up the barbecue sauce like a champ. The bread gets a little squishy by the last bite, so if you're eating while driving, put the bag on your lap.
Overall, Burger King's Memphis BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich earns a solid four thumbs up (your friend will want a bite). The flavor is definitely there, and $3.49 is a fair price.
Important point: The pork in BK's sandwich is actual shredded pork. It's real. I prefer this 10 times over McDonald's McRib, which uses chewed-and-glued pork mush. Uh-uh...
Source: Argentine Beef Packers S.A.
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