Man Food: Hungry Mother's Backdoor Barbecue

On Thursdays and Fridays, the Kendall Square spot offers killer pulled pork sandwiches.

Lunchtime bliss, courtesy of Hungry Mother. Photos by Katie Barszcz.

Ever since Hungry Mother started serving their new “Backdoor BBQ” lunch (Thursdays and Fridays only) I knew it was only a matter of time before I was going to have to pay them a visit. Walking into the backdoor of the acclaimed Kendall Square restaurant feels a little sneaky, almost like you shouldn’t even be there. But you’re quickly greeted by a welcoming staff—chef/owner Barry Maiden awaits you with a warm smile, and, even better, a tray of pulled pork at the ready. The menu is limited; the only “entrée” to speak of is a Lexington, North Carolina-style, cole slaw-topped pulled pork sandwich ($9). You can round it out with a bag of Wachusett Chips ($1), a can of RC Cola ($1.50) and one of the over-sized house-made triple chocolate chip cookies ($2) if you’re looking for a full meal (which I strongly suggest).

The pulled pork is smoked for 12-14 hours in a combination of hickory and applewood chips in a modest smoker that’s been set up in their tiny kitchen. The tender meat, lightly coated in sauce, is presented in a more chunky than shredded form, which gives the pork more substance. The barbecue sauce, which Maiden described as a cross between a vinegar-based barbecue sauce and a tomato-based sauce, possesses just the right amount of tang from the vinegar, but not so much as to make you pucker. The slaw, meanwhile, has the flavors of a pickle brine; shredded carrots and cabbage make their way into the creamy coleslaw with a dollop of homemade mayo, and as a whole it’s pleasantly acidic and fresh.

The proper bread vehicle could make or break this sandwich, and the choice of a homemade Pullman loaf is the right move. Most folks serve their pulled pork on a bun, which is a fine choice but often can be too bready. The Pullman bread is a thicker, more buttery version of a traditional white bread, and it’s just sturdy enough to hold it all together (for the first few bites, at least). Individually everything makes sense here, but it’s more the sum of the parts that make this dish a winner. The real surprise is the balance and abundance of flavors that are packed into such seemingly simple sandwich. Plan ahead if you want to check it out for yourself, as it is take-out only and they have a limited supply of the pork—and you won’t want to miss out on this one.

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