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Rachel's Recipes: Sliders sure to score a touchdown with Super Bowl fans

By: Rachel Chaddock, Special to the Telegraph
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Confession is good for the soul, I’m told, so I may as well get something off my chest right now: I don’t know beans about football. Here it is, just before the Superbowl, and I’ve gotten direction to do a Superbowl-ish recipe, and I can’t even tell you who is playing, which means I can’t take the regional approach. Sure, I could look it up, but what fun is that? We’re not really a sporty household, although I did grow up, like most Southern girls, in a college football-centered home (I rooted for Auburn because the rest of the family were loyal Alabama fans. My parents went to the University of Alabama when Bear Bryant was the coach. “Who is Bear Bryant?” you ask me - “A good coach!” I answer, pretty certain I know that much, at least). I do know food, though, and I also know that in college and just after, when my friends were assembled to watch “the game” (whatever game it was, be it football or soccer or heaven forbid, wrestling), I was always called upon to do the cooking for the fans. I didn’t mind a bit, because that way I didn’t have to pretend to be aware of what was happening or interested in the least. Pork shoulder is a great option for these occasions, because it’s often on sale (I’ve seen it for 69 cents a pound), requires very little attention, and is certain to please (unless your guests are vegetarian, or abstain from pork, and in that case I direct you to jalepeno poppers). This recipe alone, in fact, makes my slow cooker worthwhile. I make a huge cut of meat, and then turn it into any number of meals - BBQ pork sliders, as shown here, or nachos, or enchiladas, or whatever I think of. You end up with a lot of meat ready to use. The sliders pictured are on whole wheat rolls I made myself, but by all means use hamburger buns if you like or, if your guests are carb-wary, just pile up pork on their plates. I recommend crisping up the pork in a skillet over medium heat (no additional fat needed) and then adding the sauce to the pan, tossing the meat to combine. But you can keep the meat soft and pour the sauce over, just as you like. Also pictured are sweet potato fries, which are a nice accompaniment to the sliders and can be roasting as you put together the rest of the meal. One last note on the pork - after it is done cooking, there will be a lot of liquid left in the pot. Don’t waste this! Chill the cooking liquid overnight (the fat will rise to the surface and solidify, so you can take it off easily with a spoon), and then use it like a pork stock. I like it use it as a liquid for cooking beans (also in the slow cooker). Rachel Chaddock can be reached at rachels.recipes@yahoo.com. She welcomes reader questions and comments. Follow her on Twitter or Facebook. Slow Cooked Pulled Pork 1 6-8 pound pork shoulder (bone-in or boneless) ¼ cup reduced-sodium chicken stock 1 yellow onion, sliced For rub: 4 tablespoons paprika 1 tablespoon dried thyme 1 tablespoon dried Mexican oregano 1 tablespoon garlic powder 1 tablespoon onion powder 1 teaspoon dry mustard 1 teaspoon dried ground sage 1 teaspoon smoked paprika 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper 1 teaspoon salt ¼ cup olive oil The night before: Combine all the dry ingredients for the rub in a small bowl. Add enough olive oil to make a paste (you may not need the entire ¼ cup; just drizzle it in until it looks right). Rub the mixture all over the pork shoulder. Place the shoulder on a large platter or cookie sheet and let sit in the refrigerator for at least two hours or preferably, overnight. Morning of: Heat a large skillet over medium high heat, and add olive oil to lightly coat the bottom of the pan. Sear the pork shoulder on all sides, about 3 minutes per side, using tongs to turn (I use my hands, but really, you ought to use tongs). While meat is searing, slice your onion into rings. Place the rings at the bottom of your crock pot. Place seared meat on top of onion slices. Pour in chicken stock. Set slow cooker to low and cook for 6-8 hours, until meat is falling apart. Remove the meat from the cooker and transfer to a platter to cool slightly; reserve the cooking liquid for another use (like cooking beans!). Shred the pork with a fork (again, I use my hands here but you can certainly be neat and use a utensil). Sweet Potato Fries 1 large sweet potato, sliced into ½ French fry lengths Olive oil 3 tablespoons corn starch 1 teaspoon smoked paprika Salt and pepper to taste Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Pour enough oil in a large, rimmed baking sheet to coat the pan; heat the baking sheet in the preheated oven for at least 5 minutes (this will keep the fries from sticking. Put the cornstarch, paprika and salt and pepper into a brown paper lunch bag. Dump in the sweet potato fries, close the bag, and gently shake to coat. Lay out the fries onto the preheated baking sheet, taking care to keep them in one layer and to not crowd the pan. Drizzle a little additional oil over the fries. Return the baking sheet to the oven; reduce the heat to 425 and bake for 20 - 25 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, turn the fries over and then bake another 5 minutes until both sides are browned. Serve immediately. Chipotle-lime Dipping Sauce 1 cup plain yogurt Juice of one lime 2 tablespoons adobo sauce (from a can of chipotle peppers in adobo - chop up a pepper and add that in, too, if you like things really hot) 1 teaspoon cumin ¼ teaspoon salt 1 tablespoon honey Combine all ingredients and let set for at least an hour before serving. Keep refrigerated until ready to use.