When you have friends over to watch the big game, you want the food to be just as memorable as the fourth-quarter touchdown.
Your guests will be rushing the snack table for second helpings of pork sliders made with pork tenderloin and topped with a sweet-and-savory bacon-onion jam (check out the video above for more party ideas).
You’ll want to get a good sear on the tenderloins to seal in all the juices, then finish cooking them in the oven. Combining bold ingredients like coffee and cider vinegar give the bacon-onion jam serious MVP flavor. Letting them rest before slicing will ensure that the meat is juicy and tender. One bite, and you’ll score major points with your guests.
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Pork Sliders with Bacon-Onion Jam
Recipe from the National Pork Board
Yield: 24 sliders (8 to 12 servings)
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour and 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes
For the Bacon-Onion Jam:
8 slices thick-cut bacon, cut crosswise into 1-inch length pieces
2 pounds large yellow onions, thinly sliced
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ cup brewed coffee (not dark roast) or bourbon
¼ cup cider vinegar
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, minced, or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
For the Pork Sliders:
Two 1¼-pound pork tenderloins, silverskin trimmed
2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest
1½ teaspoons salt (preferably kosher)
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 dozen slider or dinner rolls, split
2 cups baby watercress or arugula
1. Make the bacon–onion jam: Line a plate with paper towels. In a large skillet, cook the bacon over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp and brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to the paper towel–lined plate to drain. Reserve 3 tablespoons of bacon fat in the skillet, discarding the rest.
2. In batches, covering after each addition, add some of the onions to the skillet and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until they all wilt and fit into the skillet. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the onions are very tender and golden brown, about 30 minutes. Stir in the reserved bacon with the coffee, vinegar, brown sugar and thyme, and bring to a boil over moderately high heat. Boil, stirring often, until the liquid is syrupy and has reduced to a few tablespoons, 7 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and let cool. Makes about 2 cups. (Note: The jam can be covered and refrigerated for up to 1 week. Bring to room temperature before using.)
3. Make the pork tenderloin: Preheat the oven to 400°. Fold back the thin end of each tenderloin and tie down with kitchen twine or plain dental floss. In a small bowl, rub together the lime zest and salt with your fingertips to infuse the salt. Stir in the chili powder. Rub the lime-chili mixture all over tenderloins.
4. In a large ovenproof skillet, heat the oil over moderately high heat. Add tenderloins and cook, turning occasionally, until browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer the skillet with the tenderloins to the oven and cook until the internal temperature reaches between 145° (medium rare) and 160° (medium), 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer the tenderloins to a carving board and let stand 3 minutes. (Note: For cold sliders, the tenderloins can be cooled, covered and refrigerated for up to 1 day.)
5. Discard the strings from the tenderloins. Thinly cut the tenderloins crosswise into 24 slices each for a total of 48 slices. Spread the bottoms of the slider rolls with equal amounts of bacon-onion jam (about 1 heaping tablespoon each). To each one, add 2 slices of pork tenderloin and a few watercress leaves and top with the bun top. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.