I had every intention of posting this recipe about a week ago, but - and I do realize that I am starting to sound like a broken record - I've been busy. This time, however, it is not my fault. You can blame my lack of posting on Stephenie Meyer.
Yes, on Tuesday of last week I finally jumped aboard the Twilight train, and I have yet to get off (thank goodness they have wi-fi.) Wanting a summer read that had nothing to do with - brace yourselves - cooking, I wandered into Barnes and Nobles with an open mind. Although I had certainly heard about Ms. Meyer's Twilight series, I knew very little about the story, other than the facts that it involved vampires and that most of the books had enjoyed a nice long stay on the New York Times bestseller list. I had not seen the movie, and I knew nothing of the plot.
Although I usually resist reading the books that seem to be everywhere because my expectations are raised to the un-satisfiable heights, I decided that this 500-pager would be an easy enough read (it was in the Young Adult section after all). I figured that I wouldn't lose much time if I did not agree with the masses.
8 days, two books, and 1100 pages later, I am eagerly awaiting my shipment of books 3 and 4 from Amazon.com. Hurry up!!
Much to my surprise, I really "sunk my teeth" into the story of Meyer's star-crossed couple, Bella and Edward. I was easily "bitten" by the Twilight bug. You could say that I was "sucked" into the whole series......O.K., I'm out of puns.
Much to Eric's embarrassment, I think that I am now officially a Twilight geek. Yes, I know that they are not exactly Shakespeare, but what can I say? I'm having fun with the story. It kind of reminds me of the whole Harry Potter phenomenon. I recall staying up for hours, completing J.K. Rowling's thick books in a matter of days. The same thing happened with this series, therefore "draining" me of any extra time to post a blog (there--thought of another pun!)
I made these pulled pork sliders about 1 1/2 weeks ago, and boy were they fantastic! The sauce is a sweet and spicy version, not really a traditional Carolina sauce, but I have always enjoyed some sweetness as opposed to the vinegar-based sauce. The slaw - no surprise here - is mayonnaise free (and therefore healthier!) In fact, thanks to the use of leaner pork loin, the entire dish is pretty healthy. I assure you, it will be love at first bite! Here are a few extra tips for making these petite pulled pork sandwiches:
- If you don't have a Dutch oven, you can use an oven-proof deep pan. Cover it tightly with foil for the baking process.
- To cut down on prep time for the jicama slaw, I find that it is helpful to use my food processor to julienne the vegetables. Fit the processor with one of the specialty shredding blades, and you will have a nice, uniform slaw.
- The slaw can be prepared one day in advance. I even think that the flavor is a bit better on the second day, when the ingredients have had a chance to blend.
- The sauce for the pulled pork might be too spicy (or not spicy enough!) for some people. Adjust the cayenne and chipotles accordingly.
- Brown sugar can be replaced with honey or maple syrup if desired. If you don't like a sweeter sauce, then leave the brown sugar out altogether.
- I prefer to use a pork loin for pulled pork, due to the fact that it is lower in fat and calories than some of the other cuts, but feel free to use a bone-in cut if you prefer.
Pulled Pork Sliders with Jicama Slaw
For the pulled pork:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 (12-ounce) bottle lager
3/4 cup cider vinegar
3/4 cup ketchup
1/2 cup whole grain mustard
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 canned chipotle chili pepper, minced
1 (5 lb) pork loin, trimmed
For the jicama slaw:
1 medium jicama, peeled and julienned
1 large carrot, peeled and julienned
1 small red bell pepper, julienned
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
2 cups cole slaw mix
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
Mini sandwich rolls, split
Prepare the pulled pork: Preheat the oven to 300F degrees. In a large dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and saute, stirring occasionally, until they are lightly browned, 10 minutes.
Increase the heat to medium-high and add the chili powder, cumin, paprika, and cayenne. Cook the mixture, stirring for 1 minute. Add the beer, ketchup, vinegar, mustard, brown sugar, tomato paste, and chipotle; bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the sauce had thickened, 8-10 minutes.
Remove the pot from the heat and add the pork, spooning the sauce over the top. Cover the pan and transfer it to the oven to bake for 1 1/2 hours. Turn the pork over, cover, and bake for 1 1/2 hours more. Uncover and bake until a fork inserted into the meat turns easily, 1 1/2-2 1/2 hours longer.
For the jicama slaw: In a large bowl, combine the jicama, carrot, pepper, onion, and cole slaw mix. In a small bowl, combine the orange juice, lime juice, vinegar, olive oil, chili powder, red pepper flakes, and sugar; whisk to blend. Season with salt and pepper. Add the dressing to the vegetables and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Pull the pork apart into shreds by tearing with two forks. Add the sauce from the bottom of the pan to the meat and stir to combine.
Assemble the sandwiches by topping the bottom halves of the mini rolls with the pulled pork and some of the jicama slaw.