Tag Archives: Slow cooker

New Gadget, Same Pulled Pork

I had a nice Cuisinart slow cooker for a long time, but the removable crock got a hairline crack, and eventually it leaked badly into the cooker. I don’t use a slow cooker very often, especially now that I’m retired and can cook as much as I want, so replacing it hasn’t been a priority. Then there’s the grill, which can act like a slow cooker itself. More about that later. I looked at reviews and also considered my wallet when deciding on the Hamilton Beach® Stay or Go.™ At under $60, and even less with a coupon, it has a number of features for the price that make it desirable: (1) the lid clamps down, so there’s no bubbling steam around the edges to gather and drip; (2) it’s programmable, so I can pick a time and know that it will shut off if I’m out longer than expected; (3) it has a probe that you can insert into a large piece of meat to register the temperature and prevent overcooked meat, a common complaint about slow cookers.

I’m christening the new gadget today with our favorite pulled pork recipe, made specifically for a slow cooker, although I have made it in the oven and on the grill: Chowhound‘s “Easy Slow Cooker Pulled Pork.” The best part of the recipe is the dry rub, which I only slightly modify and have used on country style spare ribs, and even liquefied into a wet barbecue sauce. I’ve referred to Chowhound‘s recipe at least four times on this blog:

I find it to be a versatile rub that I have varied only slightly, until settling on my favorite variation that adds smoked paprika and increases the cumin and cinnamon.

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Adapted from Chowhound‘s “Easy Slow Cooker Pulled Pork.

Place in the bottom of a slow cooker, a bed of 3 large thick sliced onions and 4 large slivered garlic cloves.

Pour in 1 cup of chicken broth.

Remove the plastic netting from a boneless pork shoulder (3-5 lbs) and rub all over with the following dry rub (use a large bowl, so you don’t lose any rub):

  • 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Place the pork roast on top of the onion bed, close the slow cooker and set to low. Cook for about 8 hours, without peeking.

Pull the meat apart with forks and stir into the onions and juices. Serve on buns with coleslaw. You just won’t believe how moist and flavorful this pulled pork is until you try it.

Uncle Earl’s Lentil Soup with a Daisy Ham

What’s a daisy ham? That’s what I’ve been wondering since I picked it up at the grocery last week. I was looking for maybe a picnic ham or even smoked ham hocks to cook with lentils and I saw this smoked ham called a daisy ham. I had to Google it and it turns out to be very well-known, but it just missed my radar all these years. It’s simply a smoked pork butt—I know, you think I cook almost nothing but pork butt. Seems like a good idea, making a smoked ham out of the pork butt, which is a terrifically tasty cut of pork. I read that some people called it tenderloin at home, so I’m expecting that it will be a good addition to lentils, even though it is more meat than I was originally planning to use. My husband won’t complain and neither will I.

I’m calling it a soup, but secretly hoping that it is thick enough to fool my husband, who does not think that anything resembling soup qualifies as a complete meal. Sometimes he’s wary of food that has to be eaten in a bowl, just in case I might be trying to sneak in soup as the main course. As it turned out, I would feel comfortable calling this a stew.

earls_lentils
Uncle Earl’s recipe

As the title indicates, this recipe comes from my uncle. I vaguely remember copying it down from his recipe and still have it in one of my recipe notebooks. I can tell from my handwriting that I couldn’t have been much older than my early twenties and maybe even younger. You can tell from the condition of the recipe that it has been used. I’m not sure what the occasion was of him sharing it, but I kind of remember him being pretty happy about how it tasted and how easy it was to make. It never really occurred to me that he did much cooking of his own, but what did I know.

I have pretty much followed this recipe, with the exception that the daisy ham makes so much meat that it is more like a stew (you know who will be happy about that), and I added some diced potatoes for even more texture.

I would also add that because lentils cook so quickly and do not need to be soaked like other dried beans, you could make this dish on the stove top and skip the slow cooker, although I see that my uncle did soak the lentils. Using the slow cooker is great if you’re cooking while at work or out of the house, but not necessary for this dish. I will be doing a lot less slow cooker cooking as I found a crack in the crock yesterday, but I never used it that much to begin with; a few recipes have just shown up here in a cluster lately. I’ll be cooking on the stove or in the oven until I get a replacement crock.

 

Uncle Earl's Lentil Soup with a Daisy Ham

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Prepare vegetables and place in slow cooker with lentils, seasonings, and 8 cups water. Place meat in pot and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Unless you are away for the day, you might find that the lentils are done long before 6 hours is up. If your slow cooker has a timer that switches to warm when it’s done, I might set it for 4-5 hours and let it warm until time to eat.

1 medium onion, diced

1 rib celery with leaves, finely diced

2 carrots, diced

2 small cloves garlic, minced or grated

2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut in large dice

1 heaping tablespoon tomato paste or 1 small can tomato sauce

1/2 teaspoon oregano

1 tablespoon dried parsley or 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

1 lb lentils

8 cups water

1 2-3 lb daisy ham or ham product of your choice

When done, remove the ham and shred with two forks. Return to cooker and toss with the bean mixture or place all in another large serving dish. Now that I know what a daisy ham is, I’ll be keeping an eye open for it and thinking of other ways to use it.

The next day, I made this flat bread to eat with the dish: Syrian Onion Bread

I topped mine with cumin and marjoram and kosher salt, and I substituted 1/2 cup whole wheat flour for part of the white flour. Mine aren’t as pretty as the original, but good to eat.

Converting a Recipe: “Decadent Pork Ragu” in a Slow Cooker

I couldn’t get that recipe that I re-blogged earlier this week out of my head, but I wanted to do something a little different with it, so I converted it to a slow-cooker recipe. The original recipe is from The Travelling Pantry (see my re-blog from September 30).

I’ve become so stuck on cooking pork shoulder for pulled pork sandwiches, that they are on the verge of becoming boring. Well, that’s a stretch, because pulled pork is one of those delights that are hard to beat. Maybe they have just become too easy to cook without making a mistake. Whatever the case, this recipe has led me to think of other things to do with the shredded meat, so I’m starting with it, and we’ll see what else I can come up with on my own later.

I’m using the slow cooker method that I posted on September 24, but with the ingredients from The Travelling Pantry. I noticed that the original recipe calls for crushed tomatoes, and I had been planning to make some for the freezer, so it was really serendipity that this recipe crossed my path at the same time my garden was pushing more tomatoes on me—really, October and the tomatoes are still ripening?

So, what prompts you to convert a recipe? Is it mostly based on what you have or don’t have in your pantry? Is it some ingredient that you fancy using, maybe for the first time? Or do you have a few recipes in your repertoire that you just know together would make an even better dish?

Then how do you go about converting recipes? Usually, I just boldly say yes or no to some of the ingredients, and just as boldly add what I think will work. In this conversion, I mostly followed the ingredients from the original recipe, but used the slow cooker method of cooking. My biggest concern was that I would have more liquid in the sauce, both from using the slow-cooker and from any difference between my homemade crushed tomatoes and canned ones. I’ll give ingredient comparisons and substitutions in the recipe.

Make sure you see the professionally-styled photos on the original recipe site.

 

'Decadent Pork Ragu' in a Slow Cooker

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy-moderate
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Adapted for the slow cooker from The Travelling Pantry.com

1 2.5-3 lb boneless pork butt, netting removed (Original: 1 kg boneless pork shoulder, cut in half)

3.5-4 cups homemade or canned crushed tomatoes (Original: 800g crushed or tinned cherry tomatoes)

1 medium onion, 1 leek, 1 rib celery, sliced (Original: 1 each of onion, leek and celery stalk – finely chopped)

1.5 tablespoons olive oil (Original: 1 ½ tbsp. olive oil)

12 oz thick-sliced bacon, diced (Original: 350g pancetta, finely diced)

1/2 cup beef stock (Original: 150ml Madeira)

1 cup deli black olives, not oil-cured (Original: 200g black Ligurian olives, pitted) [I couldn’t find that kind of olive anywhere and still have no idea what they are.]

2 tablespoons marjoram leaves (Original: 11/2 tbsp marjoram leaves, plus extra to serve) [I forgot about the extra and whirred them all up in the blender.]

2 tablespoons butter (Original: 30g butter, coarsely chopped)

1 lb pasta that holds up to a heavy sauce; I used Wegmans Organic Riccioli (Original: 750 dried pasta [“rigatoni works well, I used Mafadelle on this occasion”])

Parmesan cheese, grated for garnish (not in original ingredient list, but added at end of post—I missed it the first time)

  1. Sauté onion, leek, and celery in olive oil over medium heat with light salt and pepper seasoning. Remove to slow cooker.
  2. In same pan, brown diced bacon. Remove to slow cooker. I suspect the substitution of bacon for pancetta might have made the biggest difference in the final taste. My bacon was apple wood smoked. Pancetta is not smoked, but cured in salt and dried.
  3. In same pan, heat crushed tomatoes to warm if they have been refrigerated. Add to slow cooker.
  4. Add beef stock to slow cooker. This addition is why my sauce looks more brown in the photo with the meat added, above.
  5. Set aside olives, marjoram leaves, and butter until pork is cooked.
  6. Set pork butt on top of sauce and vegetables. Lightly salt and pepper.
  7. Cover slow cooker. If your slow cooker has a timer, set it for 6 hours and cook on high.
  8. Carefully remove meat to a platter. The pork will be falling apart and should be lifted with large slotted spoons or spatulas so that all the vegetables remain in the sauce. Shred the meat with two forks.
  9. Making the sauce: The original recipe calls for blending the vegetables and sauce with an immersion blender, and this would be the easiest method. I don’t have one, plus I worried about have too much liquid, so I removed the vegetables with a long-handled skimmer to a blender and processed to purée. Pour the purée and as much remaining liquid as needed to make a sauce that is thick enough to coat the pasta into a medium saucepan. I ended up using all the remaining liquid, to my surprise. I was afraid I would have to thicken the sauce, but it was not necessary.
  10. Add butter and marjoram to sauce and heat through. As I noted above, I added all the marjoram to the vegetables in the blender without reserving any for appearance. It didn’t hurt, except aesthetically.
  11. Return sauce and shredded meat to cooker to keep warm while cooking pasta according to package directions.
  12. Add pasta to meat sauce and toss. Conversely, you could plate pasta and add sauce to each plate.

This is a very flavorful dish and a nice alternative use of shredded pork suitable for the fancy dinners described in the original recipe. I have no idea how the taste compares to the original and probably won’t be flying to Australia any time soon to find out, but we liked it very much.

I also missed that the original recipe serves grated Parmesan at the table, but we are eating it again tonight and I will definitely be adding that.

 

Link: Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

My first choice for the slow-roasted flavor of a pork shoulder or boneless butt is roasting it in the oven, and I told you about that in July, but this is my second favorite way to cook it, not least because it frees up the whole day to do other things and then just eat. I looked at a lot of web recipes for slow-cooker pork before I found this gem at CHOW: Easy Slow Cooker Pulled Pork.

slow-cooker-cuisinart-csc650uFollow their directions, especially including the terrific rub with brown sugar, cumin, cinnamon, and chili powder. And they even have a short three minute instructional video. The only change I make is in step 3, where instead of using either the meat juices or barbecue sauce, I use both. My Cuisinart® slow cooker has a timer that switches over to a warming stage, so I set it for 6 or 8 hours, depending on the size of the roast. Eight hours for a whole shoulder, bone-in; 6 for a boneless butt, 3-5 pounds.

Slow in the oven or slow in the slow cooker—it’s all good.