I consider myself to be pretty decent in the kitchen, but using a slow cooker is a pretty new adventure to me.. We didn’t have one growing up, so it was never really on my radar. I guess slow-cooker meals would’ve been a fancy solution to dinner during grad school, provided I actually got home at my intended time. I usually opted for cereal, eggs, or quinoa (or some combination of all three) instead.
But, I married into a Crock-Pot. When KMN and I were living apart (you can read a bit about our story in this post), there wasn’t much point in using it when I went to visit KMN, since the meal would have to cook for pretty much the entire length of my visit. But nowadays, the Crock-Pot and I (and KMN) are comfortably co-habitating, and I’ll hopefully be expanding my working sphere beyond our front door soon, so I figure that learning how to use the little (big) guy might not be a bad idea.
Pre-blog, I’d used it to make over-cooked chicken legs, and a very unremarkable soup. I was not impressed, but knew there must be some tasty recipes out there. I recalled hearing people discuss making pulled pork in the slow-cooker. This sounded promising. So I grabbed the little cookbook that came with our Crock-Pot (Crock-Pot Slow Cooker Cookbook), and sure enough – I found a recipe for Carolina Barbecued Pork. My adaptation appears below.
I should note that the only pork I’ve used in cooking, ever, has been ground pork. I tend to the vegetarian/poultry side of things, but cook a lot more meat now that I live with KMN. Chicken gets boring fast, and I don’t really like beef. Pork seemed like a reasonable compromise. The recipe called for boneless pork butt or shoulder roast. So, I headed over to the meat section of the Fairprice, hoping the cuts were well labeled. Indeed, I was able to find something labeled “Pork Shoulder/Butt”. I found this perplexing, but was glad not to have to choose between the two. About 2 lbs of boneless shoulder/butts came home with me.
[Some subsequent Googling educated me: Pork shoulder and butt are, indeed, the same cut. It’s the shoulder blade area, above the front legs – and especially good for pulled pork because it is marbled with enough fat to stay moist while cooking. Don’t ask me why the “butt” is over the front legs.]
The only other ingredient we didn’t have at home was Worcestershire sauce. I was a bit nervous about how much this western condiment would cost, but I was able to find a very small bottle (but really, who ever uses a whole bottle of Worcestershire sauce?) for about $3.50 SGD (~$2.80 USD). Awesome. I was good to go.
As per the recipe, I mixed up:
2 Tbs brown sugar
1 Tbs paprika
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
and used it as a rub on the meat, which then went right into the Crock-Pot, along with several quartered onions.
Next, I made a royal mess while mixing up the sauce ingredients:
3/4 cup cider vinegar
4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp chili powder
Pour ~2/3 of this mixture over the meat. Save the rest in the fridge as a drizzle for the finished product. Cook on high for 6 hrs (or low for 10 hrs).
I was a bit nervous, because the liquid definitely didn’t cover all of the meat, but I trusted the recipe and left this cooking all afternoon, while I did some errands and met KMN for a gym session (this was last Wednesday). I’m always a *tad* anxious about leaving the Crock-Pot on while I’m out, but if I only used it when I was home, that would defeat half the point, right? And when we returned, the apartment smelled great and the juices were bubbling away.
I easily shredded the meat with two forks, and all we had to add was some freshly cooked rice and a salad. Dinner was served! I was so eager to taste it that I forgot to take a photo until I was nearly finished:
The final product was quite tasty. The sauce isn’t a thick BBQ sauce (obviously), but still has quite a good, tangy flavor, which I loved. If you’re more sensitive to vinegar, though, you might want to cut back to 1/2 cup, plus some water. As for me, I think I’ll cut back on the sugar next time – this was slightly sweet for my taste. But there’s a huge range of preferred BBQ tastes, so it all depends what you like.
Overall, though – I was thrilled with this recipe. It was easy (minus the mess!) and tasted great. Plus, we made plenty of extra pork. I enjoyed some on a salad the next day (didn’t even need any dressing!), and we froze the rest. I think we’ll be enjoying that on sandwiches the next time we need a super fast dinner. This recipe is certainly flagged as a “make again”!
Do you have a favorite slow cooker recipe? Please share it, or the link to it!!
(Especially if it doesn’t require lots of pre-packaged American products.)