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Cider-Roasted Pulled Pork Sliders with Braised Red Cabbage and Crisp Apples

Mariel here: After whipping up that delicious Spiced Cider Bundt Cake last week, I had about a pint of leftover cider so I decided to take the dregs for a spin in a savory dish. I’m a fan of sliders – I firmly believe that small bites simply taste better than a big honkin’ bun and these babies didn’t disappoint. The braised cabbage adds a touch of tartness while the crisp apple slices give the sandwich some tooth. As my husband said, the apples are essential since they keep the slider rolls from getting soggy with the delicious drippings from the pork. And like many of our Super Sunday recipes, these only get better as the week progresses (they keep for about five days stored in an airtight container in the fridge). I’m a little short on words today thanks to quadruple-decker deadlines, so I’ll just let the recipe do the talking….

For more apple-y inspiration, check out Apple Pie Pancakes a la Mode, Homemade Applesauce, Apple Chips, Ginger-Apple Butter and Mom’s Apple Pie. How are you putting autumn’s tree-picked bounty to work?

Cider-Roasted Pulled Pork Sliders with Braised Red Cabbage and Crisp Apples
Makes about 16 sliders

Ingredients for the Pork:
4-lb pork shoulder, bone-in – $8.23
1½ cups of cider – $2.49
1 Granny Smith (or tart, crisp) apple – cut into chunks – $0.60
2 Tablespoons cider vinegar – stock
1 large sweet onion, rough-chopped – $1.19
1 large garlic clove, minced – stock
2 teaspoons of salt – stock
1 teaspoon black pepper – stock
1 teaspoon ground ginger – stock
1 teaspoon ground mustard – stock
1 Tablespoon olive oil – stock

Ingredients for Red Cabbage:
1½ lbs red cabbage, quartered, cored and thinly sliced – $1.32
1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced – $1.19
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter – stock
¼-cup cider vinegar – stock
1½ Tablespoons packed brown sugar – stock
½-Tablespoon salt – stock
½-teaspoon black pepper – stock

Other ingredients:
Whole wheat slider buns – $2.50
1 additional Granny Smith (or tart, crisp) apple for topping – sliced – $0.60
Grand total assuming well-stocked kitchen: $18.12
Cost per slider: $1.13

Directions for Pork:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a bowl, combine the chunked apple, apple cider and minced garlic. Set aside. In a small bowl, combine the salt, pepper, ginger and mustard (this is your dry rub).

3. Trim the excess fat and skin from the pork shoulder. Massage the dry rub all over the pork.

4. In a large heavy, Le Creuset-style French Oven (or a lidded stockpot or deep casserole pan), heat the olive oil over a med-high flame. Once hot, brown the pork shoulder on all sides, this takes about 12 minutes.

5. Remove the pan from the hot burner and scatter the chopped onions around the pork, then pour in the apple cider marinade, taking care to spoon some of it on top of the pork itself.

6. Cover the pot (or seal tightly with two layers of tinfoil) then roast for 2½ to 3 hours, or until the pork falls apart really easily.

7. Once cooked, shred the pork with two forks and discard the bone and excess gristle (i.e. anything you don’t wanna eat, toss). Return the shredded pork to the pot and give it a good stir before transferring to a large bowl to serve.

Directions for the Braised Cabbage:
1. While the pork is cooking, prepare the cabbage. Rinse it under cold water and drain, but don’t pat dry.

2. In a large lidded stockpot, melt the butter over med heat and saute the sliced onion until very tender and starting to turn golden – about 20 minutes. Stir frequently so the onions don’t burn.

3. Stir in the cabbage, vinegar, brown sugar, salt and pepper and reduce heat to low. Cover the pot and simmer for 1 hour until everything is very tender. Stir occasionally.

4. Cool uncovered for about 10 minutes before serving.

Directions for Assembling Sliders:
1. Toast your whole wheat buns and cut your 2nd apple into ¼-inch slices.

2. Place a layer of apples on the bottom bun, then spoon on the roasted pork, followed by the braised cabbage and the top bun. The apple slices are a necessary addition since they add a toothy crunch to the sandwich and prevent the bottom bun from getting soggy.