In a thrilling culinary collaboration, Chef Paul Wahlberg, co-founder of the renowned gourmet burger restaurant Wahlburgers, recently embarked on an inspiring journey to Tennessee. There, he immersed himself in the world of moonshining at Sugarlands Distilling alongside the stars of Discovery Channel's "Moonshiners," Mark Ramsey and Digger Manes. The outcome of this adventurous expedition is a delectable duo of menu items: Apple Rye BBQ Pork Sliders and Bootlegger Apple Cider to complement the meal. Both items are available for a limited time, gracing the menus of Wahlburgers locations through November 2023.
This exceptional partnership between Sugarlands Distilling and Wahlburgers exemplifies a commitment to quality and shared values, bringing a taste of the Smoky Mountains to a wider audience. With an array of signature moonshine offerings, Sugarlands continues to bridge the gap between craft distilling and popular culture, solidifying its reputation as an iconic brand with deep roots in moonshining heritage.
We had the chance to try this delectable pairing to provide you with a review of Tennessee's moonshine culture combined with Chef Paul Wahlberg's culinary prowess. And we have to say, we were deeply impressed. Let's dig in!
The Inspiration Behind The Walhburgers X Sugarlands Collaboration
We had the pleasure of chatting with Chef Paul Walhburg to gain a deeper understanding of this delicious pairing. While he loves burgers, he also likes stirring things up from time to time. When he went down to Tennessee and tasted Mark & Digger's Rye Apple Moonshine by Sugarland's, he knew it was a match made in heaven.
Using the flavors of fall as inspiration, and channeling apple ciders and pies, Paul created and tested a variety of sauces and worked with his team to find the perfect flavor profiles for the meal and drink combo. And that process is exactly what Paul loves about his work -- the creative flow and camaraderie. Just like a fine wine that changes its flavor profile the longer it sits, Paul looks at his food creations the same way, observing every aspect of each element and overall complexity to ensure a delicious bite and sip every time.
What stood out most to us was the passion and care that anchors his menu. There is so much research, science, and teamwork behind the entire process. "Nothing just happens," Paul said. It's all by design, and it takes a village." From his first musings and taste tests to the marketing team perfecting the message, there is a deep sense of pride and honor in all who work for the Walhburger name.
What Do The Apple Rye BBQ Pork Sliders Taste Like?
These sliders feature succulent, slow-smoked pulled pork generously smothered in a scratch-made BBQ sauce infused with none other than Mark & Digger's Rye Apple Moonshine. This unique moonshine, crafted in collaboration with Sugarlands Distilling, adds a distinctive twist to traditional BBQ sauce, creating a flavor explosion that is sure to leave you craving more.
The pork was tender, juicy, and not over-sauced, allowing the natural flavors of the meat and the delicious tangy house-made Apple Rye BBQ to dance harmoniously. The addition of the coleslaw provided stellar textual elements, as well as a cool temperature juxtaposed with the warm pork. It also cuts the weight of the meat, allowing for more bites per sitting.
The sliders were served alongside a stack of mouthwatering onion rings -- the perfect complement to the decedent sliders. They were delightfully crispy with a little salt and seasoning to balance out all the flavors within the BBQ sauce. Honestly, we couldn't stop eating.
What Does The Bootlegger Apple Cider Taste Like?
To complement the Apple Rye BBQ Pork Sliders, Wahlburgers created the Bootlegger Apple Cider, a specialty craft cocktail that combines Mark & Digger's Rye Apple Moonshine with the crisp and refreshing essence of apple cider. The drink features Sugarlands Rye Apple Moonshine, apple cider, ginger ale, fresh lemon juice, a grenadine float, and a gala apple garnish.
You might think a cocktail with moonshine would be super strong, but this drink is perfectly balanced. You get sweet apple and sugar flavoring on the front end with that traditional apple cider taste on the back that screams everything Autumn. While the alcohol is present in the flavor profile, it doesn't overtake the delicious crisp apple cider taste.
This beverage is the perfect companion to Chef Paul's sliders, the apple notes connecting to the tangy zest of the pulled pork sauce. It was a truly satisfying dining experience!
Our Final Thoughts
Paul knows his stuff, and that was crystal clear from the first bite and sip. We couldn't stop eating the sliders with that delicious sauce, and the onion rings were the perfect pairing to such a decadent main. And the apple cider cocktail? This one will keep us coming back for more. Perfectly balanced, this drink screams fall. It's like a taste of apple picking and Halloween fun in a glass.
We deeply enjoyed the limited edition sliders and cocktail, and encourage everyone to go give them a try. But remember, these yummy treats aren't here to stay.
Read the original article on Daily Meal.