The following recipe and photography was provided by recipe developer and food photographer, Ashley Durand of Plate & Pen.
You can’t watch a football game without finger food! Whether you’re kicking off football season, celebrating a spot in the playoffs or preparing to watch The Big Game, you simply must have these Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches on your game day menu!
Entertaining for The Big Game is all about allowing yourself and your guests to be present for the action on the field, or in the commercials, so I like to serve food that’s easy to eat and also easy to prepare, so I can watch the game, too! That’s the beauty of the slow cooker. You simply let the BBQ pork cook, shred it when it’s ready and allow your game day crew to build sandwiches as they please.
Now, creating the perfect pulled pork sandwich requires the best ingredients, so there’s no better place to shop than Heinen’s. This recipe uses Heinen’s CARE Certified pork tenderloin, Heinen’s apple cider vinegar, Two Brothers BBQ sauce, Heinen’s Dijon mustard and Heinen’s clover honey.
All thoughtfully sourced, these ingredients combined elevate the classic pulled pork sandwich beyond the basics, especially when served on a dense and savory pretzel bun from Heinen’s bakery with a simple homemade garlic chive aioli.
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For the Pulled Pork Sandwiches
- 2 Heinen's CARE Certified pork tenderloins
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 Tbsp. black pepper
- 1 green bell pepper, sliced
- 20 pearl onions
- 1 yellow onion, cut into eights with layers peeled apart
- 1 bottle Two Brother’s BBQ sauce, plus more for serving
- 1/2 cup Heinen's clover honey
- 1/3 cup Heinen's apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup Heinen's Dijon mustard
- 1/3 cup water
- 1/2 tsp. Heinen's cayenne pepper
- 1 Tbsp. Heinen's dried thyme
- 1 Tbsp. Heinen's dried oregano
- 1 Tbsp. Heinen's smoked paprika
- 2-3 bags Heinen's pretzel buns or slider buns
- Heinen's butter, to brush on buns when serving
- 1 bag shredded iceberg lettuce
Garlic Chive Aioli
- ¾ cup Duke’s mayonnaise
- 1 tsp. minced garlic
- 1 tsp. black pepper
- 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
- 1 tsp. lemon zest
- 1 Tbsp. minced chives
- 1 Tbsp. Heinen's olive oil
- Chop and slice all of the vegetables for the sandwiches. Set aside.
- Rub the salt and pepper over all sides of the pork tenderloins.
- Heat a cast iron skillet and add a few glugs of olive oil. Sear the pork on all sides for 4 minutes per side.
- Set the slow cooker to high or low heat depending on how fast you want the meat to cook. Add all of the onions and peppers. If set to high, the cook time will be 5 hours. If set to low, the cook time will be 8 hours.
- Place the seared pork tenderloins on top of the onions and peppers, then pour the apple cider vinegar and honey over the pork.
- Add the cayenne, thyme, oregano and smoked paprika.
- Pour the bottle BBQ sauce over the pork, followed by the Dijon mustard. When the BBQ sauce bottle is empty, fill it with 1/3 cup of water. Place the cap on, shake the bottle and pour it into the slow cooker.
- Add the lid to the slow cooker and cook for 5 hours on high or 8 hours on low.
- If cooking on high, remove the pork from the slow cooker with 15 minutes left in the cook time. Shred it with forks and add it back to the slow cooker to finish cooking. If cooking on low heat, complete this step with 30 minutes left in the cook time.
- In a small bowl, combine all of the aioli ingredients, except for the olive oil, with a spoon. Once combined, use a whisk to mix in the olive oil.
- To serve, brush the pretzel buns with the melted butter and sprinkle sea salt on top, if needed.
- To the bottom half of the pretzel bun, add some pulled pork and a handful of shredded lettuce.
- Spread the garlic chive aioli on the top bun, press together lightly and serve.