I cook and I really believe in the family dinner. I think that’s a nice time to bring the family together.Gwyneth Paltrow
Being cooped up lately, I’ve been craving some “family time” and a meal shared with good friends. So, when I was recently invited over to share a casual Sunday dinner with friends and their teenagers, I jumped at the opportunity. In an era where it’s hard to get the whole family to the dinner table at once, this was one evening where everyone enjoyed their meal and especially their time having fun with one another. I had a blast!
Months before COVID kept us all at home, my friend and her husband were craving some weekly downtime. With a house full of teenagers who have busy schedules of their own, they noticed that the one day a week when everyone seemed to be home was Sunday, So, they snuck in a new family tradition while no one was looking.
They made one rule to live by on Sundays: keep calendars clear and dinners simple. Even me, being single, that’s even a rule I should adopt for myself!
I arrived early this particular Sunday, and it wasn’t long before the kids began gathering around the kitchen table a couple of hours (or more) before dinner was even served asking to play games. There’s just something about a clean kitchen table, relaxed parents, maybe even a fun guest, and a slow-cooked meal that lures kiddos downstairs by their noses to come see “what’s for dinner?”
This particular Sunday, the answer to the most popular question in the house was: pulled pork sliders! Not only is it a favorite of theirs, it’s one of mine too. What’s especially nice is that it is easy to prepare and little time is spent on one’s feet. Cooking and clean up are easy-peasy, which leaves more time and energy for the main attraction: family. And it’s sure to please even the pickiest teen palette.
Dinner can be started in the crockpot around noon. Within 2-3 hours a savory aroma is wafting through the house, and mouths begin to water. Throughout the afternoon, if you’re like this family, everyone will naturally gravitate toward the kitchen for conversation, snacks, and most often, games! Over time, their collection of games has grown to include: Oregon Trail Card Game, Chunky Monkey Business, Sequence Board Game, Phase 10, Monopoly, and good old-fashioned Dominoes. Some of these I hadn’t played since I was a teenager. Actually, I cannot really remember the last time I actually played a board game, and with kids even. We all had a terrific time, especially the teenagers when they beat me!
Once everyone is seated and playing, the laughter gets loud, and dinner cooks itself.
Oh, and don’t forget dessert. Scroll down for something amazing!
SLOW COOKER PULLED PORK SLIDERS
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 5-6 hours
Serves: 6-8 people
Wine Pairing Suggestion: 2016 Tranche Estate Cabernet Franc, Walla Walla, WA
Beer Pairing Suggestion: Goose Island IPA
3-4 lb Pork Shoulder (also called Pork Butt or Boston Butt)
1 cup chicken broth
1 ½ cups BBQ sauce (Their family favorite is Stubb’s)
1/4 cup yellow mustard
2 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 cup of white onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of fresh garlic, minced
1 ½ Tsp dried thyme
Optional Toppings: yellow mustard, BBQ sauce, thinly sliced onions, or dill pickle relish
1. Set crock pot (or slow cooker) to high heat.
2. Pour chicken broth into the empty crock pot. Reserve remaining broth in case the pork needs more liquid during cooking.
3. Place the pork butt in the crock pot, fattest side up.
4. Spread BBQ sauce, yellow mustard, and Worcestershire sauce over top of pork.
5. Sprinkle in chopped onions, minced garlic, and dried thyme.
6. Cover and cook for 5 hours. Meat should easily fall apart with a fork. If it is still firm, cover and cook an additional hour.
7. Check periodically. Add chicken broth if liquid gets below one inch or so in the crock pot.
Once the pork is ready, uncover, turn off the heat, and let it rest for 15-20 minutes. Then, remove the pork from the crock pot and shred with a fork. It can be served completely shredded, or to maintain a little tenderness, shred lightly into small chunks. Spoon some juices from the crock pot over top of the pork to add flavor and keep the meat moist and warm.
Serve on Hawaiian rolls with simple sides.
Dill Pickle Spears
Kettle Cooked Potato Chips (Plain or Salt & Vinegar)Fresh Lemonade
A delicious dessert to balance the tanginess of dinner: Death by Chocolate Cookies. These are rich, moist, and melt-in-your-mouth, even when made a day or two in advance. (Check back on the blog later this week for this mouth-watering recipe.)
Or forget the sliders and just have cookies for dinner! The kids won’t complain.