Monday, December 3, 2018

Joey's Cranberry Pulled Pork Sliders

   Since this is the time of year when many people are attending or hosting holiday parties, I figured it would be a good idea to come up with something fun and yummy that you can serve to your guests, or to bring with you to your next party. Lets make sliders! They're the perfect little picky-uppy holiday party food! (yes, picky-uppy is a technical term.) And since they're just little, you now have the option of sampling many more food items from the table, instead of filling up on a big honkin' sandwich. Know what I mean? More is more!
 We all know how easy it is to make a pulled pork in a crock pot, but the twist here is making it with cranberries instead of just your basic BBQ sauce. Doesn't that sound yummy? Tbh, I had been looking for a cranberry pork recipe for a while and they all seemed to be very BBQ, with just a hint of cranberry. Well, frankly, I wanted it to be the other way around! I wanted sweet and tart cranberries with just a little hint of BBQ, and that's what we have here! The other thing I wanted was to use FRESH cranberries. Every year, when cranberries are available, I stock up my freezer with bags and bags. They freeze REALLY well, and will last me an entire year! It's nothing to take a bag of cranberries out of the freezer and stir up a quick cranberry sauce, and that's exactly what I've done! The good news is you can also just use a can of cranberry sauce, just in case you forgot to stock your freezer with fresh ones! This would also be a really great way to use up leftover cranberry sauce from your big holiday dinner! Are you having turkey for Christmas? Now you can serve leftover cranberry pork sliders for your New Year's Eve Party! Look at me, always thinking ahead! And even if you're not making this for a party, it's an easy weekday meal! Just mix up the sauce the night before, turn your crock pot on before you leave for work in the morning, and then let it cook all day. Dinner is ready when you get home! It really is SO easy! And I'll say this once more.. if you don't have a slow cooker, NOW is the time to get one! I have several, and I use all of them ALL the time. Who knows? Maybe you'll get one for Christmas?? It could happen! But only if you're on the Nice list!

4 or 5 lb pork roast (shoulder or butt)
1 large sweet onion, sliced

1 12oz bag fresh cranberries plus 1 1/2 cups sugar, 1 1/2 cups water, 1 tbs butter
OR 1 can of whole berry cranberry sauce
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup ketchup
1/2 cup honey
2 tbs Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
big pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1 tbs lemon juice

Place pork and onions in a 5 quart slow cooker.
If using fresh cranberries, place them in a small sauce pot with sugar, water, and butter. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and let it simmer until the berries start to pop, about 10-15 minutes. Mash slightly. Let it cool for a bit, then add to mixing bowl. If using canned cranberries, just add a can of whole berry sauce to the mixing bowl. Add remaining sauce ingredients. Stir until well blended. Pour half of the sauce over the pork and onions. Cook on low for 9 or 10 hours or on high for 5 hours, or until the meat is falling apart. Using a slotted spoon or strainer, remove all the meat and onions from the cooker. Using two forks, shred the meat, discarding any bones and large pieces of fat. Add the other half of the sauce to the shredded meat. Adjust seasoning if needed. Serve on fresh bakery rolls with pickles and cole slaw on the side.

 To serve as sliders:
Using a big serrated knife, slice a package of King's Hawaiian sweet rolls in half horizontally, and remove the top layer in one piece. Spread a layer of the pulled pork over the bottom layer of bread. Next cover the pork with several slices of deli provolone cheese. Place the top layer of rolls on top. Cover loosely with foil. Bake at 350ºF for about 15-20 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Then use a big knife to cut into individual sliders.

When serving as sliders, you have a rectangle of rolls, but the provolone cheese is round, so what do you do to make them fit? Simply cut the slices of cheese in half! Now you have a flat edge on the slices of cheese to place up against the flat sides of your rectangle of rolls. Simple!
 Btw, the liquid that is left in the cooker is REALLY tasty. You could add it to a small pot, stir in a slurry of flour/water, and simmer until thickened  to turn it into some fantabulous gravy, perfect for mashed potatoes or for dipping your sliders!