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Mouthwatering Cheesy Maple Bacon Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Lunch provided on behalf of the National Pork Board
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How often do you feed your family pork? I admit that I am guilty of always feeding my family steak, chicken, and fish on a regular basis. Recently, my friends have been talking a lot about their kids finding a love in the different pork dishes that they have been serving their families. Pork is known to be a healthier meat, and is just as lean as a skinless chicken breast. When the National Pork Board offered to bring my family lunch for the day, I couldn’t resist so that my kids could have a chance to try the protein that everyone seems to be talking about.

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I took the kids for an afternoon at the park, and once we got home, a local chef delivered us a handmade pork lunch. She had made the popular cheesy maple bacon cajun pulled pork sandwiches with a side of potato salad. Inside of a soft warm bun was a large helping of pulled pork, melted cheese, and bacon. Since my kids don’t like spicy foods, I served their sandwiches without the Sriracha Yogurt…which meant more for me.

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The kids ate every last bite of their sandwiches and even asked for more. They didn’t even notice that they were eating pork vs. the traditional steak that I normally would have stuffed into their sliders. Plus they got the added health benefits of eating a leaner meat with lower saturated fats.

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I have been inspired to create new dinners for my family using pork since enjoying our lunch. I have found a ton of family favorite recipes on the National Pork Board website, and all of the recipes I have tried have come out great…with the pulled pork sandwich recipe being one of our family favorites.

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We are excited to share the recipe from our lunch courtesy of the National Pork Board. I guarantee that it will be a hit in your house at dinner time and is perfect to make ahead for a picnic lunch.

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Cheesy Maple Bacon Pulled Pork Sandwiches

3 Pounds boneless pork shoulder
1 Tablespoon salt
2 Teaspoons black pepper
2 Teaspoons paprika
1 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1 Teaspoon garlic powder
1 Teaspoon onion powder
1 Teaspoon dried Thyme leaves
1/2 Teaspoon celery seed
1/4 Cup chicken stock, apple juice or water
8 Soft potato burger buns
8 Thick slices extra-sharp cheddar cheese
About 24 bread and butter pickles

Sriracha Yogurt:

1/2 Cup nonfat greek yogurt
1 Tablespoon sriracha chili sauce

For the crispy potatoes:

2 Pounds Yukon gold potatoes (1 to 2 inches in diameter)
2 1/2 Tablespoon of olive oil
Salt
2 Small scallions (sliced)

For the Maple Bacon:

8 Slices thick-cut bacon
2 Tablespoons pure maple bacon

To make the Cajun Pulled Pork: In a small bowl, combine the salt, black pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, and celery seed. Rub the mixture over all sides of the meat, pressing it to adhere. Transfer the meat to a slow cooker and add any of the spice mix that didn’t adhere. Add the broth, cover, and cook until the pork is very tender, 6 to 8 hours on low or 4 to 5 hours on high.

Meanwhile, make the Sriracha Yogurt: In a small bowl, combine the yogurt and Sriracha. Set aside in the refrigerator.

About 1 3/4 hours before the pork is done, preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Meanwhile, start the Crispy Potatoes: Place the potatoes in a large pot of cold, well-salted water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are very tender, 15 to 18 minutes. Drain the potatoes and set aside.

While the potatoes are cooking, make the Maple Bacon: Arrange a wire rack over a large rimmed baking sheet and arrange the bacon on the rack. Bake until the bacon is beginning to brown, 15 to 18 minutes. Remove the bacon from the oven and brush it on both sides with the maple syrup. Continue baking until the bacon is nicely browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside until cool enough to handle, then transfer the bacon to a plate. Pour the bacon fat on the baking sheet into a measuring cup, about 3 tablespoons. Set the bacon, bacon fat, and baking sheet aside.

Increase the oven to 500 degrees F.

Arrange the potatoes on the baking sheet that had the bacon fat and use a spatula to smash each to about 1/2-inch thick. Add enough olive oil to the bacon fat to equal 1/3 cup, and then drizzle the mixture over the potatoes. Sprinkle generously with salt. Bake until well browned and crisp, about 35 to 40 minutes. Top with the scallions.

While the potatoes are baking, transfer the cooked pork to a cutting board and let rest 10 to 15 minutes. Use two forks to shred the meat into bite-sized pieces. Moisten/season with cooking juices to taste.

Break the bacon pieces in half and arrange on the bottom halves of the rolls. Top with the pork, cheese, and pickles and Sriracha yogurt if you’d like. Serve with the potatoes and Sriracha yogurt alongside.

Makes 8 sandwiches

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