The Perfect Game Day BBQ Pork Sliders

DJ SnuggleMonster is a HUGE sports fan…most any sport catches his attention. But, football and hockey are his favorite. And since this kicks off the first week of NFL Regular Season Football, I’ve spent almost the whole day watching NFL RedZone with him…yep, that means we’ve watched every. single. game. today. So, since it is a day full of football, what could be a better dinner than sliders? Again, I want to give credit to Gordon Ramsay for his initial recipe as inspiration. However, as I can never just use a recipe as-is, there were some tweaks made. I’ll say that I was raised on mustard or vinegar based BBQ sauce, so this sweet version isn’t my preference, but it does balance out the salty pork and smokiness well. You can buy some of your favorite BBQ sauce to use on these, but why? It’s super easy to make this version and the sweet sauce actually does pair well. But hey, your call. These burgers aren’t difficult – basically a bit of sauteeing and mixing and browning. Not hard. Promise. And everyone will love these.

Timing: 30-35 minutes

Servings: 12 sliders (mini burgers), so depending on how hungry your crowd is 3-4 people

INGREDIENTS:

Burgers:

  • 6 strips of your favorite bacon, chopped
  • 1 shallot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon paprika (if you can find smoked paprika, leave out the next two ingredients)
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper (don’t use pre-ground pepper if you can help it!)
  • Olive oil

BBQ Sauce:

  • 1 large shallot, peeled and finely chopped (you want about 1/3 cup of chopped onion)
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (if you can find smoked paprika, leave the next two ingredients out)
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne (a “pinch” really)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried mustard
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce (insert “how do you pronounce this” joke here)
  • 6 tablespoons ketchup

Toppings/Add-Ons:

  • Mini burger buns/bread rolls
  • Greenage (your choice – we used spinach, but baby boston lettuce/romaine/iceberg are fine too)
  • 7 slices of sharp cheddar cheese torn into four smaller pieces (DJSM and I have an argument about orange vs. white cheddar, but I’ll not make you choose)
  • 1 tomato, sliced

DIRECTIONS:

Start with the burgers. Place a large, clean bowl in the fridge or freezer. Put your chopped bacon in a pan over medium heat. Cook for about five minutes or until it is almost fully cooked. Add the shallot and garlic and cook for another five minutes, or until the bacon is crispy/full cooked. Stir in your paprika, chili powder, and cumin (or just paprika if you are using smoked paprika) and cook for another minute. Use a slotted spoon or sieve and get the bacon onto a paper towel to drain, BUT KEEP about 3 tablespoons of that oil and put into a small bowl! Don’t throw that out! The wipe out that pan and keep off heat so you can use it to cook the burgers later. Once the bacon is drained on the paper towels, add to the bowl you got in the fridge until cool. Start on your BBQ Sauce then.

Heat olive oil in a medium pot over medium heat. When it’s hot, add the shallots, garlic, salt and pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the onions get soft. Add the brown sugar, cayenne, mustard, paprika, chili powder, and cumin (or just the sugar, mustard, cayenne and paprika if using smoked paprika) and cook over medium-low heat for 7-10 minutes, or until the mixture starts to caramelize. Add the vinegar and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the Worcestershire and ketchup, 1 tablespoon of your reserved bacon oil, and then drop the heat down to low, and leave until you’re ready to eat. Get back to the burgers now.

Grab the bowl with the bacon, add the ground pork, and about 2 teaspoons of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Form into golfball sized balls, then flatten. Indent the center a bit so that the center will cook just as fast as the outside edges. Heat one tablespoon of the reserved bacon oil and one tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. You can use the pan you fried the bacon in, and I’d suggest using another one too (cook all the burgers at one time so less wait time). Cook 2-3 minutes on each side. Then slide off the heat, add about 2-3 pieces of cheese to the burgers, and cover for about 1 minute to melt the cheese.

Then just assemble your sliders with all the rest of the goods! Enjoy!

Bacon and Pork Sliders with Sweet-Smoky BBQ Sauce
Bacon and Pork Sliders with Sweet-Smoky BBQ Sauce

Pork and Bacon Sliders all assembled and looking pretty!
Pork and Bacon Sliders all assembled and looking pretty!

The ultimate Bacon Pork BBQ Sliders
The ultimate Bacon Pork BBQ Sliders

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