The first “sliders” were made in 1921 by the hamburger chain, White Castle, founded by Walter A. Anderson and Edgar Waldo “Billy” Ingram in Wichita, Kansas. White Castle’s signature item was the “slider”—a tiny square burger cooked on top of a bed of finely chopped onions and topped with a pickle slice. They cost just five cents each. My husband grew up in Chicago, and White Castle hamburgers were a main stay in his diet. In fact, I think his mother considered White Castle’s a basic food group.
Food historians believe the term originated from Navy sailors, who began referring to the greasy mini burgers they ate as “sliders” because, after one or two bites, they would slide right down. Some burger purists say a true “slider” consists only of a bun, patty, onion, and pickle and anything else is a mini hamburger. Today, the term “slider” describes any mini sandwiches, and they are topped with anything from fried chicken to pork belly. Super Bowl is just around the corner—the perfect time to serve “sliders”. The football fans at my house love my Pulled Pork Sliders with Coleslaw. In fact, my husband considers them a basic food group at our Super Bowl Party. I have included a recipe for coleslaw; but if you have a recipe you prefer, any coleslaw recipe will work.
Pulled Pork Sliders with Coleslaw Serves 12 to 15
For the coleslaw:
1 head green cabbage, outer leaves removed, cored, and sliced thinly 1 ½ tablespoons salt ½ cup mayonnaise 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice 2 tablespoons milk 2 tablespoons cider vinegar 1 ½ tablespoons sugar 1 teaspoon celery seed ¼ teaspoon large grind black pepper, or to taste 2 carrots, peeled and julienned (about 1 cup) Salt to taste
In a large bowl, place thinly sliced cabbage, sprinkle with salt, and toss well. Transfer the cabbage to a colander and let drain for 30 minutes. In a large bowl, place mayonnaise, lemon juice, milk, vinegar, sugar, celery seed, and black pepper and whisk to combine. Add drained cabbage and carrots and toss to coat evenly with the dressing. Season to taste with salt. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving. This recipe is most flavorful when refrigerated overnight.
For the pulled pork: 1 tablespoon smoked paprika 1 teaspoon dry mustard 1 teaspoon onion powder 1 teaspoon garlic powder ½ teaspoon chipotle chile powder ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper 1 tablespoon salt 1 teaspoon large grind black pepper 4 ½ pounds boneless pork shoulder 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil 1 large yellow onion, halved and sliced ¼ -inch thick 5 teaspoons minced garlic ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons tomato paste (6 tablespoons) 2/3 cup cider vinegar 3 cups chicken broth In a small bowl, combine paprika, mustard, onion powder, garlic powder, chipotle chile powder, cayenne, salt, and pepper and stir to combine. Rub the spice mixture evenly over the pork and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. In a 6-quart Dutch oven, place olive oil over medium-high heat on your stove top. When the oil sizzles, add the pork and brown on all sides, about 6 to 10 minutes. Transfer pork to a platter. To the Dutch oven, add onion, garlic, and tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Add vinegar and chicken broth to the onion mixture and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.
Place the pork back into the Dutch oven and cover. Cook, turning the pork every hour, about 3 hours, or until it is tender and a fork inserted into the meat yields little resistance.
To finish and serve the pork: 3 teaspoons Worcestershire® sauce ½ cup ketchup ¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar 1/3 cup cider vinegar 48 slider buns, halved Transfer the pork to a platter and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm. Skim fat off the cooking liquid. Place the Dutch oven on your stove top over a medium high heat and bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is reduced to 3 cups, about 10 minutes. Whisk in the Worcestershire®, ketchup, brown sugar, and vinegar and simmer until the sugar dissolves.
Shred the meat, discarding any fat, and transfer the shredded pork back to the Dutch oven. Stir to combine. To serve: Place 2 tablespoons pork and 1 tablespoon coleslaw on the bottom of each roll and cover with tops of the buns.
Shopping for cabbage: Cabbage will normally feel very heavy for its size. When buying green or Savoy cabbage, select heads with dark green leaves. As cabbage ages, its outer leaves wilt and are removed, exposing the lighter colored underneath leaves. The leaves on cabbage should be thick and crisp. A fresh cabbage will show no signs of browning. Do not buy a cabbage that has a strong odor. If it smells like garbage, it probably is garbage. Avoid purchasing this vegetable if its core is woody or split.
Shopping for pork: Pork is inspected and graded either “Acceptable” or “Utility”. All fresh pork sold in supermarkets is “Acceptable”. It does not have the quality grading differences that are available with beef products. When buying pork, look for cuts with a small amount of fat on the outside and meat that is firm with a grayish pink color. Pork, like beef, will have better flavor and tenderness if it has a small amount of marbling. Choose packages that are cold and tightly wrapped without tears or punctures. Pork, like beef, should not be blotchy. Spots indicate that the pork has begun to spoil. Make your pork selection, along with other perishables, last.
Check for dates on packages. Many stores mark packages with a “Sell-By” date. Never buy product that has expired. Use or freeze products with a “Sell-By” date within 3 to 4 days of purchase. Strictly observe “Use-By” dates specified by packers.
Carol Ann Kates is the award-winning author of cookbook, Secret Recipes from the Corner Market and Insider Grocery Shopping Secrets. She’s an expert in how to shop, select, and store produce for maximizing home cooking outcomes and minimizing time and money spent. As a former supermarket and deli operator, Carol Ann shares grocery-insider wisdom—the same expertise you used to receive when patronizing a mom-and-pop establishment. Contact her at CarolAnn@CarolAnnKates.com and explore her website, www.CarolAnnKates.com.
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