1½poundsseasoned pork loin filet(If using an unseasoned filet rub it with a Southwest spice blend. See below for an option to use pork shoulder instead of the loin.)
1largeyellow onion, sliced into ½-inch thick rings(about 10 ounces)
12Hawaiian sweet slider-sized rolls, like King's Hawaiian (Or use regular slider rolls or small brioche slider rolls.)
8ouncesPepper Jack cheese, shredded
2teaspoonsdried ancho chili pepper powder
Cook the pork:
Have a slow cooker switched onto low and waiting.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Slice the pork loin into 4 or 5 large chunks. When the oil is hot add in the pork and sear it all over, using tongs to turn the pieces. Once seared remove the pork pieces to the slow cooker.
Add ½ cup of water to the skillet to deglaze the pan, scraping up the browned bits. Pour this liquid into the slow cooker over the pork.
Cover the slow cooker and cook the pork for about 1¼ to 1½ hours, until it reaches an internal temperature of 140° F.
Remove the pork from the crock pot. Allow it to cool to room temperature.
When it's cool enough to handle, shred the pork - you can use two forks like many recipes suggest, but I find it's easiest just to use your fingers.
(Note: you can also use leftover pulled pork instead of cooking the pork loin. Use about 4 cups of shredded, cooked pork.)
Cook the onions:
Heat the remaining tablespoon of canola oil over medium heat in a small nonstick pan. Add in the sliced onion and stir to coat the onions in oil.
Cook them over medium heat, stirring the onions occasionally while cooking, for about 10 minutes. The onions will be softened and browned in places. Remove the pan from the heat.
Assemble the sliders:
Preheat the oven to 400° F.
Lay out the bottoms of the slider rolls 3 rows by 4 rows in a 13 inch x 9 inch baking pan.
Arrange the shredded pork in an even layer over the rolls. Top the pork with the sautéed onions, spreading them evenly over all the sliders. (Hold aside the pan used to cook the onions.)
Sprinkle the shredded Pepper Jack cheese evenly over the sliders, and the put the tops of the rolls in place.
Melt the butter over medium heat in the pan you used to cook the onions. Whisk in the ancho chili pepper powder, garlic powder and the salt.
Use a pastry brush to brush the butter mixture over the sliders. Spread it evenly so that the butter coats the tops of every slider - sometimes the spices will settle towards the bottom so try to scoop these up with every basting. Use the entire butter mixture.
Wrap the pan in foil and place it in the oven. Bake the sliders for 20-30 minutes: they should be hot all the way through and the cheese melted.
Remove them from the oven before the tops and spices on top get too browned. Use a spatula to remove and serve the sliders while they're hot.
Leftover sliders can be stored wrapped in the fridge. Warm up cold sliders covered with foil in a 400° F oven for about 25 minutes.
OPTION: PORK SHOULDER
Pork shoulder can used in place of the pork loin - it will take 8 hours to cook in a slow cooker, so plan for this extra time.
Use a boneless pork shoulder, approximately 4 pounds. Cut the shoulder into 2 or 3 pieces. Rub the pieces all over with a Southwest spice blend or other spicy blend of your choosing.
Place the pieces in a slow cooker with about 1 cup of stock or water. Cook the shoulder on low for 8 hours until it's fall-apart tender.
Shred the pork, removing any pieces of fat.
Pork shoulder can be used in place of the pork loin, though it will require about 8 hours in the slow cooker. See the OPTION section in the recipe above for instructions.
If preferred, leftover or store-bought pulled pork can be used. Just be sure it has a nice, savory and/or spicy flavoring to contrast with the sweet rolls and cooked onions. You will need about 4 cups.
I use sweet King's Hawaiian rolls in this recipe. Other slider rolls work just as well if you prefer a less sweet bread.