TBT: Slow Cooking In The Summer

When I originally posted this recipe, it was during the dog days of summer- not unlike this week’s sticky mess in the Northeast.  My parents had lost power from a storm, which also meant that their air conditioner was out of commission.  I decided to bring them some pulled pork because it (1) was easy for me to make, and (2) didn’t require much heating up to be good.

This summer when our access to grilling was cut due to some building repairs, I turned to my slow cooker again.  It’s a great way to have a hot home-cooked meal without sweating from the heat of the stove (especially if you have a commercial grade oven like mine).  So tonight, when my aunt and uncle told me that their a/c needs to be replaced, I figured it was the perfect time to remind everyone that you don’t have to wait till fall to experience the joys of crockpot cooking.  (Funny how the a/c never seems to stop working when it’s a reasonable temperature…)

Dig yours out of that corner or back of the drawer and throw some pork shoulder in it or short ribs or shanks.  Whatever suits your mood.  I made some beef shank osso buco earlier this week, but since that isn’t a cut that’s so easy (or cheap) for everyone to buy, instead I’ll re-post one of the quickest and most satisfying recipes I’ve got. After all, when it feels like 105 degrees, you don’t want to have to think too much about what’s for dinner.  Plus, this is perfect for the weekend!

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork with Spicy Slaw
Serves 4-6.

Ingredients

For the slaw:

1 head of Savoy cabbage
1/2 a bunch of cilantro
2-3 small jalapenos, cored with most of the seeds removed
5 scallions (green or red)
2 limes
1/4 cup of mayo, plus 2 tbps
1 capful of apple cider vinegar
Salt and pepper

For the pork:

5-6 lbs of semi-boneless pork shoulder (picnic cut), preferably with skin on
1 can of your favorite beer
1 and 1/2 cups of coffee (or water or chicken broth)
Smoked paprika
Chile powder
Kosher salt
Pepper
2 cloves of garlic
2 medium onions

Directions

The slaw can be done a day or more in advance.  I find the flavors meld more as it sits.

Thinly slice the cabbage into a large bowl.  Chop the scallions and cilantro.  Dice the peppers.  Add all three to the cabbage.  Sprinkle with the salt and pepper.  Toss to combine.  Add the mayo (in place of the extra 2 tbsps of mayo, you can add sour cream if you prefer) and the apple cider vinegar.  Squeeze in the juice from the limes.  Mix thoroughly.  Taste.  Let sit for awhile and taste again.  If the flavor of any ingredient is lacking, add more.  If the flavor is too strong, add whatever will counteract it (salt, pepper, spice, lime, mayo).  Making slaw is not an exact science, but it can always be adjusted.  Give it time to moisten and absorb the flavor portfolio.

Rinse the pork and pat dry.  Let stand to room temperature.  (You can do a rub for the pork if you have the time and let it sit for a day, but it’s not necessary.)  Sprinkle the skin with salt and pepper.  Sear the pork skin side down in a pan with a few tablespoons of oil till nicely browned (about 5 minutes).  If skin is on the bottom, sear that for a few minutes as well but it’s not necessary.  (The juices run down into the pork and not up.)  Cut the onions into thick slices and place in the bottom of the slow cooker.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Cut little slits into the pork skin and insert garlic slices.  Sprinkle the pork all over with paprika, chile, salt and pepper and rub it in.  Place pork with skin side up on top of the onions.  (If you didn’t do a rub the night before, you can prep to this stage and let sit covered in the fridge overnight or for a few hours as time permits.)  Add the beer to the slow cooker.  Add additional liquid (water, broth or coffee like I did with some extra from breakfast).  The liquid should be about 1/3 of the way up the pork.  Cover.  Let cook without lifting the lid for 8-10 hours on low.  When the pork pulls away from the bone/skin, it’s ready.  Remove from the slow cooker and let cool enough to touch.  Then get in there and remove the skin and bones.  (You can reserve the skin and fat for another use or throw away.)  Hand pull the pork into shreds and serve immediately for the most flavor/moistness.  But with this cut, it’s should be moist enough to prep in advance

Serve on a soft bun with some BBQ sauce (Sweet Baby Ray’s Vidalia Onion is good) if desired and top with the slaw.  You’ll also have enough juice to make a gravy or serve as au jus if you want it wet but don’t want to mask the flavor of the meat.  Add the onions to your sandwich too if you want.

Note:  Even after the pulled pork sat for a full day, it was still incredibly moist and delicious.  You can even serve it at room temperature.

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