Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Hawaiian-style pulled pork sliders, bite-sized happiness

If you've already read my blog post about mac salad, I bet you're wondering about the other half of the dish in the photograph at the bottom.

Some folks are tired of slider mania, but I say that this trend should live on forever and ever and ever. What is not to like about mini-sized sandwiches? I mean,  it's great for kids, and it's great for those of us on diets (I like to put tiny sliders on small plates and fool myself into thinking that it's full size, or I've shrunk. Whatever. It works). It's also great when you want to turn a sandwich or burger into an appetizer so that your party guests don't have to leave early because they are suffering from food coma. Krushburger here in Sacramento has capitalized on this awesomeness, you can order a mix-and-match so you can try all of their tasty offerings without busting your belt. Oh shucks, they are just so darned cute! What's not to love?

Now, I add an asterisk that not all sliders are good. It's easy to neglect them because they are an appetizer, and dry them out because they are so small. I hate when restaurants serve little burned hockey pucks, it's just as much of a crime as serving a bad burger.

I think the slider allows you the opportunity to go all-out; something that would be just too intense in a full size sandwich can be a dynamite kick-in-the-pants with a few bites. How can you pack maximum punch into such a small package? I was originally inspired by Krushburger's Ninja, which is beef and sliced shortribs marinated in a korean-style barbeque, with "asian slaw", crispy scallions, and sriracha aioli (or fancy-pants for sriracha mayo). Sweet, spicy, salty, smokey, gooey, and crunchy smack in the face.

I will follow this truck into hell.

So wait, where's the Hawaiian part? I was also inspired by looking up recipes for authentic Plate Lunch, and by visiting North Shore Hawaiian Grill in Tahoe City after a long day paddleboarding on the lake - if you are in the area you must stop here. The teriyaki pork I had there was like no other. Again, a similar taste to the marinated short-ribs in the Ninja. It was probably the sweet/salt/smoke that really did it. Soy sauce or teriyaki, sugar, vinegar, liquid smoke (or from a smoker), seemed to be a theme. So without any real direction, I decided to take an SFB twist and create these suckers.

I originally used this with Trader Joe's mini burger buns - it was OK but I think they can be better. They can get pretty dry. So coat in something moist (which we did). If I were to do this again, I would use dinner rolls or Hawaiian sweet rolls. If you try it let us know how it goes.

One other thing, folks. Since this is a slow cooker recipe, you can do something awesome with the leftover juice to trick out these sliders (yes, my husband loves to BBQ! Which to him usually means putting something in a slow cooker and adding BBQ sauce. Someone should remind him that we invested in an outdoors grill). You'll see at the bottom - basically reduce the juice down to a glaze. Another lazier option is to just add Hoisin sauce.

Ingredients (makes about 30 sliders)

Pork and marinade
4-6 lb pork shoulder
1 cup BBQ sauce (we used Stubbs from Austin, but anything is OK)
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp gochujang (Korean fermented chili paste)
2 tbsp sriracha
3 tbsp sweet chili garlic sauce (such as Mae Ploy)
2 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp rice vinegar
12 oz. IPA (we used Mad River Steelhead)
2 tsp liquid smoke
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 ginger knob, diced or mashed
2 tbsp alderwood smoked salt

Mango Slaw
2 cups diced mango
2 bags thinly sliced cabbage (or 1 savoy cabbage, thinly sliced)
2 bell peppers, thinly sliced
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced and soaked in red wine vinegar and 1 tbsp sugar for 30 minutes
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 creme fraiche or full fat sour creame
1/4 cup greek yogurt
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp mirin
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp sriracha
1 tbsp sweet chili garlic sauce
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp minced ginger

For the Pork, mix all of the non-pork ingredients in a bowl except for 2 tbsp soy, the gochujang, the ginger, and the salt. For those, mix together separately to break up the chili paste, then add. Rub the pork with the ginger and salt, and add whatever falls off to the sauce mix. Set your slow cooker to low and slow, add the pork, and add the mix. Cooking times depend on pork shoulder size. A 6 lb should take at least 11 hours.

For the slaw, add the mango and veggies to a large bowl, the mix all of the other ingredients in a smaller bowl until smooth (since you are adding vinegar and mayo, this may take some time to remove the clumping, or you can use a food processor). Let sit while the pork cooks (the earliest you should take out is 2 hours to let the flavors mix).

You might want to check on the pork every now and then to make sure it's coated. Take pork out of the slow cooker and shred with a fork, it should be extremely tender (so much that you do not need a knife).

Finally, here is the extra step that is worth the effort. Make your own BBQ sauce from the marinade! Fill about 4 cups of the leftover cooked marinade to a shallow pan, bring to a boil, and simmer on medium to low for about 45 minutes to an hour, or until reduced to a glaze. You can keep the shredded pork warm in the slow cooker while you wait. Be patient, it's worth it!

Assemble pork and slaw into sliders on toasted buns and add a bread and butter pickle. Serve with mac salad. You're welcome!

1 comment:

  1. We added pineapple chunks to the pulled pork while cooking, it really worked out well. We didn't have 11 hours for the pulled pork, so we cut it into smaller pieces to cook faster. That seemed to work out pretty well.