“Town” & “Country” Pulled Pork Panini

It’s a twofer, folks – my indecision is your gain!  Pulled pork panini, two ways.  Can you really go wrong?

The concept for “Town” and “Country” panini comes from a little restaurant up in Irvine called Jackson Barne.  An unassuming place in a strip mall, my co-workers and I used to lunch there often back in the day.  On Jackson Barne’s menu they’ve got a “Town” side, with lighter options like grilled chicken breast sandwiches and veggie burgers, and a “Country” side, featuring comfort items like patty melts and grilled cheese.  Suffice it to say, I ordered off of the “Country” menu more often than not, but what a great idea to offer two sets of options for varying “food moods”.  After going back and forth forever in my mind, trying to hone in on the single tastiest way to make pulled pork panini, I remembered Jackson Barne and saw no reason why I couldn’t just make two versions.

My “Town” version, while not healthy per se,  offers a kind of California twist on a pulled pork sandwich with creamy goat cheese, sweet caramelized onions and fresh cilantro.  The “Country” version – tossed in tangy BBQ sauce and nestled amongst sweet-and-sour coleslaw and a blend of melted cheddar and monterey jack cheeses – is more like the classic southern favorite.  Plus cheese. 🙂

This was actually my first time making pulled pork at home.  I found a great recipe for it over at Under the High Chair, which was adapted from Martha Stewart.  What was particularly appealing to me was that it only took 2-1/2 hours to cook rather than all day.  Now don’t get me wrong, I most definitely value the flavor and texture that low-and-slow can deliver.  I just couldn’t wait that long!  Maybe one of these days I’ll do a head to head comparison and determine whether an additional 5 hours would have made a significant difference, but I’ll say that this “quick” recipe produced some rather succulent results.

Did I have a favorite among the two sandwiches?  I’d have to give a slight nod to the “Town” one, just because I really, really like caramelized onions and I thought their sweetness really brought out the sweetness in the pork.  My husband, on the other hand, preferred the “Country”.  He liked the crunchy texture from the coleslaw and the smoky flavor of the BBQ pork.  The cheese on that one kind of made the sandwich like a BBQ melt – yummy!

“Town” & “Country” Pulled Pork Panini

Each recipe serves 4



1 tablespoon olive oil
1 red onion, sliced into thin rings
Salt and pepper
4 pita breads
1-1/2 lbs pulled pork (there is a good recipe for it at Under the High Chair)
4 oz. goat cheese, cut into 1/4″ slices


In a skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Season onions with salt and pepper and sauté in the olive oil for 15-20 minutes until caramelized.

Preheat panini grill to medium-high (375 degrees).

For each sandwich: Heat a pita in the microwave on High for 15-20 seconds so that it is malleable enough to fold without breaking.  Add onions to the lower half of the pita.  Top with pork, goat cheese and cilantro (to taste).  Carefully fold the top half of the pita over the fillings and place the sandwich on the grill.  Grill for about 3 minutes until the cheese softens and grill marks appear on the pita.  Serve immediately and enjoy!



3/4 cup reduced fat mayonnaise
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon poppy seeds (optional)
1 8 oz. package shredded cabbage and carrots (coleslaw) mix
1-1/2 lbs pulled pork (there is a good recipe for it at Under the High Chair)
Barbecue sauce
4 pita breads
4 oz. shredded cheddar and monterey jack cheese blend


In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, sugar and poppy seeds.  In a large bowl, toss cabbage mix with just enough dressing to coat.

In another large bowl, combine pork with a generous amount of barbecue sauce, to taste.

Preheat panini grill to medium-high (375 degrees).

For each sandwich: Heat a pita in the microwave on High for 15-20 seconds so that it is malleable enough to fold without breaking.  Add coleslaw to the lower half of the pita.  Top with pork and cheese.  Carefully fold the top half of the pita over the fillings and place the sandwich on the grill.  Grill for about 3 minutes until the cheese is melted and grill marks appear on the pita.  Serve immediately and enjoy!


KathyPanini Happy, online since 2008, is more than just a sandwich blog. Here, you'll find hundreds of my original panini recipes, my guide to choosing a panini press and a whole lot of other creative uses for the panini press.
~ Kathy Strahs
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  1. rachel wrote:

    Wow! This look great. I would marry pulled pork if I could.

    Posted 8.23.08 Reply
  2. sharon wrote:

    you continue to amaze me with the most delicious looking sandwiches! I love everything about this recipe – bbq sauce, pita, cilantro….oh yum!

    Posted 8.23.08 Reply
  3. Hal B. wrote:

    Nice to meet you, too. Your paninis are INSANE! Every recipe makes me hungry.

    I might have to try to win that contest of your just so I can test all your recipes.

    Posted 8.23.08 Reply
  4. Kim wrote:

    I adore pulled pork and this would so be my kind of pannini! Thanks for the two choices. Splendid meal!

    Posted 8.24.08 Reply
  5. Natasha wrote:

    Oh my! The country panini is calling my name! Although I wouldn’t say no to the town version either!

    Posted 8.24.08 Reply
  6. DanGarion wrote:

    It’s 7 AM and I’m starving now that I saw those pictures…

    Posted 8.24.08 Reply
  7. Tom Aarons wrote:

    What a brilliant idea. And you’ve replicated it with such (delicious looking) flair, too!

    Posted 8.24.08 Reply
  8. noble pig wrote:

    Gee I think i like em’ both, depending on my mood! Thank you!

    Posted 8.24.08 Reply
  9. Jenny wrote:

    Wow, 2 fabulous looking panini’s! I think I am going to splurge and buy one of those presses. Your recipes look too good to not have one!

    Posted 8.24.08 Reply
  10. HoneyB wrote:

    Oh my, they both look great to me but I have a feeling Grumpy would really love the country one! I just found a recipe to make those Pita (that Elle just posted about) for!!!

    Posted 8.25.08 Reply
  11. grace wrote:

    this settles it–i’m country, through and through. 🙂

    Posted 8.25.08 Reply
  12. I’ve got to agree… this blog definitely makes me hungry each time I visit. Those are both fine looking panini!

    We always seem to have a plethora of pulled pork in the freezer (when I make it, I make scads), so I’m thinking you’ve just given me an idea of what to do with part of it!

    Posted 8.25.08 Reply
  13. Nate wrote:

    Both of these sandwiches look awesome. I think I’m a “country” person but dang, that “town” one sounds tasty!

    Saved to delicious and putting you in my RSS reader.

    Posted 8.25.08 Reply
  14. Arlene wrote:

    I’ve always believed anything worth eating could be made into a sandwich, or better yet, a panini. Both versions sound wonderful.

    Posted 8.25.08 Reply
  15. robinsue wrote:

    Yup you are brilliant coming up with 2 versions: a town and country. Fantastic! Both sandwiches look awesome, now I know what to do with my leftover pulled pork. Thanks!

    Posted 8.25.08 Reply
  16. Susan wrote:

    i love pulled pork. i actually never had it until this year and love taking it to family gatherings.

    Posted 8.26.08 Reply
  17. Mikky wrote:

    that panini looks sooo good… thanks for sharing… 🙂

    Posted 8.26.08 Reply
  18. Elle wrote:

    I’m torn between the two! The crunchy cole slaw or the sweet caramelized onions…I’m sure I’d have to taste both. Yep, that’s the only solution!

    these look so good!

    Posted 8.26.08 Reply
  19. Madeline wrote:

    While the “Town” sounds delicious, I’ll have the “Country” please! Mmmm, the coleslaw, the BBQ sauce, the cheese, you just can’t go wrong.

    Posted 8.27.08 Reply
  20. Kevin wrote:

    Melted cheese and pulled pork…mmm…

    Posted 8.29.08 Reply
  21. Sandie wrote:

    What a great site you have going on here—love the panini-blog concept and original recipes! The only trouble is…I can’t decide between the “Town” or “Country” version featured in the post. Is it possible to get a combination of them both? 😉

    Thanks for your comment on my blog! I hope you’ll visit again soon (perhaps I could feature one of your original breakfast paninis?)

    In the meantime, I think I have to go see if I can register to win that panini grill. I’ve always wanted one of those, maybe this is my chance!

    Posted 8.29.08 Reply
  22. Kristen wrote:

    Hubby is smoking a pork shoulder this weekend and you can bet what I’m going to do with some of that meat. Town and country are both calling my name! Mmmmmm!

    Posted 8.29.08 Reply
  23. Nicole wrote:

    Kathy, I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed meeting you last week at the Foodbuzz dinner. It was so fun.

    Your food looks great. I think I’ll go for the “town” style panini!

    Posted 8.29.08 Reply
  24. This is perfect! I’m going to christen my Big Green Egg this weekend by making some pulled pork. I was just looking for some interesting recipes today. These are great!

    Posted 8.29.08 Reply
  25. Pam wrote:

    It’s hard to pick which one looks better…I think I would like half of each please. They both look outstanding. You have me thinking about sandwiches now.

    Posted 8.29.08 Reply
  26. Rosa wrote:

    OMG, that looks ever so scrumptious! A gorgeous idea!



    Posted 8.30.08 Reply
  27. Oh, this reminds me of when we lived in North Carolina, where pulled pork was a mainstay of every bbq. Yours looks perfect, Kathy!

    Posted 9.1.08 Reply
  28. Dragon wrote:

    I wish I could grab that right out of the computer and devour it. YUM!!!

    Posted 9.1.08 Reply
  29. Jude wrote:

    Such a creative post 🙂 I’d probably be more of a ‘country’ person from the looks of it

    Posted 9.2.08 Reply
  30. Heather wrote:

    This looks wonderful, and I’ve forgotten all about Jackson Barne! I’ll have to find a time to get back there for the meatloaf sandwich. (Hey, have you done that one panini style?) Mmmmm.

    Posted 9.4.08 Reply
  31. Rosanna wrote:

    I just made the “Country” pulled pork panini recipe. My family loved it . . . even the most picky of all eaters. It was absolutely delicious.

    Rosanna’s last blog post..Grilled (All The) Cheese Panini on Dark Rye

    Posted 4.14.09 Reply
  32. Ellen wrote:

    Oh, wow. I made the “town” version of this recipie today, and it’s absolutly delicious. Well worth the work of making the pulled pork. I’m excited to try “country” tomorrow with the leftovers!

    Posted 9.22.10 Reply
    • Kathy wrote:

      Hi Ellen – That’s so great to hear! Really glad you enjoyed it. Hope all goes well with the “country”. 🙂

      Posted 9.22.10 Reply
  33. Tiki wrote:

    I wanted to let you know that I have been using these recipes and the one you linked to for the past year and a half. I LOVE them!

    Posted 9.2.11 Reply
    • Kathy wrote:

      Thank you so much!

      Posted 9.2.11 Reply