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When Kelaine asked me to write about Pumpkin Spice, I had some concerns. Most notably, that I think Pumpkin Spice is lamer than candied bacon on top of a chocolate lava cake. Even Wikipedia calls it an “American Spice Blend.” Ugh. What is French for the-polar-opposite-of-chic?

But since I thought I could probably get an afternoon of Kelaine watching my kid out of it, I told her I’d do it. As I thought about what I could make, I just kept wondering how this ubiquitous autumnal spice blend somehow managed to become less than the sum of its parts.

First, we have glorious cinnamon. I don’t need to tell you what Jerry already so eloquently reminded Elaine, “Cinnamon takes a backseat to no babka!” And then there’s plucky little nutmeg.

Do you know what makes all cheese sauce better? Nutmeg! It is universally accepted as something that improves the invincible power combination of butter, flour, and cheese. Anything that can improve on those flavors must be pretty freaking good. And just try to serve a ham without first dutifully studding it with cloves. That will be the saddest ham, and everyone will hate you. And finally, ginger. And if I have to tell you why ginger is amazing, you better stop reading right now because you are a very lost person, and I can’t help you.

So—very long story short—but I decided to give pumpkin spice another chance. I created two recipes to pay homage to this most American of Spice Blends. Today, I give you Pumpkin Spicy Pulled Pork. Sweet with a hint of warmth and a nice kick. Give it a chance!! This makes enough for 5-6 pulled pork sandwiches.

Pumpkin Spicy Pulled Pork



  • 2 lb. Pork Butt
  • 1/2 cup apple juice (or apple cider)
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 garlic cloves

Spice Rub

  • 2 Tbs. Dark Brown Sugar
  • 1 Tbs. Paprika
  • 1 Tbs. Kosher Salt
  • 1 tsp. Pumpkin Spice mix
  • 1 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 tsp. Garlic powder


  • 1 quart cold water
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 2 Bay leaves

1. Make the spice rub by combining the spices, sugar, and salt in a small bowl.

2. Make the brine by combining water, 1 tsp. spice rub, sugar, and salt
3. Put the pork into a gallon bag and add the brine and bay leaves. Refrigerate 12-36 hours.

4. When you are ready to cook, pat the pork dry with a paper towel and rub the spice mixture all over the pork. Get very familiar. Work it!!!
5. Put the pork in a crockpot with the apple juice, a chopped onion, and garlic.

6. Cook on low for 5-6 hours, until very tender.
7. Remove from the crock pot and allow the pork to rest for 30 minutes.
8. Using two forms, shred the pork and serve with Pumpkin BBQ Sauce.

Pumpkin BBQ Sauce

  • 1/2 cup purée pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 1 tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 1 tsp. Garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Cayenne Powder
  • 1-2Tbs. water

Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan. Cook over medium heat for 30 minutes, until all ingredients are melded together. If it gets too thick, you can add water for your desired consistency. Set aside and serve with pulled pork.

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