nimanranch_bbqpulledpork-cookedI was recently at Food Fete in New York for February’s excellent gathering of food manufacturers and had the pleasure of seeing the Niman Ranch Pulled Pork with Barbecue Sauce. At the booth I met Niman Ranch Pork Company founder Paul Willis and explained to him that I discovered them in my local grocery store in Los Angeles in 1998.  Below are some pictures of Paul Willis’ hog ranch and Paul with one of his hogs.

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Niman Ranch’s Paul Willis’ Hog Farm
Photo courtesy of Niman Ranch

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Paul Willis with a hog on his farm
Photo courtesy of Niman Ranch

In 1998, after some exhaustive research, I was looking for minimally processed, nitrite and nitrate free range meats since I was nursing my exceptionally allergic (then) baby (OK, she’s still my baby).  Niman Ranch’s delicious sausages have always been gluten-free, nitrite and nitrate free, and my husband and I continue to enjoy them. Additionally, according to the web site, the animals are raised humanely on sustainable family farms, are never given antibiotics or hormones EVER and are fed the finest vegetarian feeds. It is important to note that Niman Ranch meats are also used at Chipotle, one of our favorite restaurants.

In February at Food Fete, the Niman Ranch team gave me their Pulled Pork with Barbecue Sauce to take home. While I don’t usually eat or purchase pre-packaged items, when I saw that it contained no mustard (an allergen for me in large doses) and no gluten, nor any other top 8 allergens as defined by the FDA, I was very excited to try it. Here are the ingredients:

Ingredients: Niman Ranch Pork, water, sea salt. SAUCE: sugar, water, tomato paste, vinegar, corn syrup, modified food starch, salt, pineapple juice concentrate, cultured dextrose, natural smoke flavor, caramel color, molasses, spices, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, tamarind natural flavor. CONTAINS NO ALLERGENS*

I warmed up the product in our oven on a cookie sheet as directed. When my husband came home, I served it with rice, and brocolli. Although the package says 8 servings, I’m fairly sure that this will comfortably feed 3 – 4 hungry people. I didn’t tell my husband that it was pre-packaged until halfway through the dinner after he told me – and I could tell – that he loved it.

The next day I went to my local market, Eagle Provisions, and, knowing that they carry Niman Ranch products, asked them to carry it.

In closing, the product is excellent. It does not have a pre-packaged chemical taste found in most packaged products. It came very close to being as good as our favorite local BBQ Restaurant, Fort Reno on Union Street. The only ingredient that doesn’t please me from a mom point of view, and this is a preference, not an allergy, is the modified food starch, but I understand that in creating a packaged food product, that it can be necessary when packaging a food product.

The Niman Ranch BBQ Pulled Pork will definitely be on my list of go-to products for those nights I need to get something on the table fast and don’t want to cook.

* please note that the contains no allergens statement refers to the top 8 allergens as defined by the FDA, if you or your family member have a diagnosed corn allergy, this product does contain corn.

From Niman Ranch:

Pulled Pork with Barbecue Sauce

Fully cooked- just heat and serve. A convenient BBQ pork dinner in a fraction of the time it would take to prepare traditionally. Slow smoked over hard-wood, hand pulled and them combined with barbecue sauce. Gluten free. Made with pork raised without antibiotics or added hormones. SRP: $9.99

Disclosure: I did not receive payment for this review, but I did receive $10 worth of delicious Niman Ranch pulled pork with barbecue sauce.

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