Slow Cooked Saucy Pulled Pork

Ah yes, it’s another slow cooker recipe! I love the concept; I really do.  I pulled this one from TV, yet again, while watching Kelsey’s Essentials – but, of course, omitted the brown sugar to make it 4HB-friendly.  It still tasted very rich and yummy to me! Now, if only I could have piled it up high on a bun to make myself a pulled pork sandwich… Oh well – baby steps (I’ll save that one for a cheat day)! I will say, however, that it tasted very delicious on its own.  I’ve also found that it’s pretty versatile.  For one, it is pretty terrific as a meat sauce on squash noodles or spaghetti squash noodles.  My goodness, how things are coming together!

One big reason that I like this particular recipe is because the spice combination gives you good pulled pork flavor, without making it taste too much like a Mexican-style pulled pork.  Which, of course, I also love (ahem, slow cooked carnitas, anyone?).  But it’s always nice to have some variation up your sleeve for meals! Plus, this version is super saucy – rich and flavorful.

That intro kind of reminds me of this recipe: sort of a long process, but with an eventual outcome of pure delicious satisfaction!

Hey, let’s crock it to the pot!

Ingredients:
1 pork shoulder or butt (3-4 lbs)
1 15-oz can tomato sauce
3 tbsp chili powder
2 tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp crushed red pepper
5 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)

Directions:

  • Combine the tomato sauce, chili powder, coriander and cumin in the bottom of your slow cooker.  Stir to combine.

  • Sprinkle the pork with salt and pepper and place in the slow cooker.

  • Using tongs, flip the pork around in the pot a bit to evenly coat with the tomato sauce and spice mixture.

  • Mince and dice the garlic and onions.  Add to the slow cooker and toss the meat, again, with tongs to evenly distribute its contents.

  • Cook on low for 8-10 hours until the pork is tender and beginning to fall apart.

  • Remove the pork and place in a large bowl or plate.  Let it sit and cool for a few minutes.(As you can clearly see below – my pork turned out so tender that I had to take it out in several large clumps! Was falling apart at the touch.  That’s some quality tenderization, there!)
  • With 2 forks, pull apart and shred the meat.  Remove and discard any excess fat.

  • Skim off any excess fat from the sauce that is left remaining in the pot.  Stir in the lime juice and season to taste with salt and pepper. (The purpose of the lime juice is to tame, slightly, the boldness and richness  in flavor that is ultimately created from the slow cooking of fat in the sauces.  Delicious flavor, already, but the citrus flavoring creates a product that really works well for the overall pulled pork flavor).

  • Add the shredded pork back into the slow cooker and toss with the remaining tomato sauce and meat juices.

  • Scoop generously onto plates!

Leftovers? Good news! The pulled pork can be stored in its sauce and refrigerated for a few days.  In fact, the next evening, it went quite well on zucchini and squash noodles! 

Sweet porky victory!

Grilled Garlic Butter Zucchini and Onions

Oh man, have I a mouth-watering side to share.  It’s so garlic-stinkin’ easy, too; and truly ideal when you already have the grill going with whatever else your delicious cuisine entails!

Ingredients:
Zucchini (as much as you’d like)
Yellow Onions (ditto!)
Garlic cloves. minced (about 1-2, per large zucchini…or more!)
Butter
Salt & Pepper, to taste

Directions:

  • Cut zucchini into large cubes; cut off the ends of the onions and peel off the outer layer, leaving them intact.

  • Tear off a few sheets of aluminum foil large enough to eventually form “packages” for the zucchini and onions.  Place the zucchini pieces and onions on separate sheets.

  • Season with salt and pepper.  Sprinkle minced garlic over top of the pile of zucchini cubes and onions, and top with a slice of butter.

  • Fold aluminum foil to form a package, making sure that there are no open areas exposed.  Pinch foil edges to seal.

  • Place on the grill over medium-high heat, approximately 12-15 minutes.

  • Remove from the grill and let sit for a couple of minutes.  Then, unwrap the foil, being careful not to let the juices from the butter spill all over your kitchen, and plate the zucchini and onion pieces.

Tender to the touch! Now how’s that for a rich, tasty side delicacy?

Slow Cooked Carnitas

Ole!

As most of us have come to learn, Mexican food tends to be just about the simplest cuisine to suit the 4HB lifestyle, with only slight modifications.  Has the riceless Chipotle Burrito Bowl become your fall-back meal plan, fast-food staple, yet? I’m originally from South Carolina, and was never a huge fan of Mexican food until I moved out to San Diego almost 7 years ago. It wasn’t long until I actually craved Mexican food.  I accredit this to one of two things:  subsequent deviation from a once-extremely picky palate (a.k.a – growing the heck up); or new exposure to Mexican food in a location actually close to the border (with no mass body of water in between!).   It’s all about authenticity sometimes; and good (almost-local) ingredients!

Once again, I’ve shot off on quite the tangent.  But when I think carnitas, I think of a good, home-cooked, Mexican dish.  This is one of my husband’s and my favorite slow-cooker meals.  Work all day; fiesta in the eve! Tender and juicy, with a touch of outer crispness; this hunk of meat is flavorful and filling!

Let’s get right down to this porky delight:

Ingredients:
2 lbs boneless pork butt (or pork shoulder)
1/2 medium yellow onion
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped or minced
1 tsp salt
2 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp liquid smoke (optional)
2 tsp Butt Rub Seasoning (optional)
Fresh cilantro, chopped (for garnish)

Directions:

  • Cut up the pork butt into approximately 1 1/2 inch cubes.  If you’re purchasing your pork from a butcher, they will usually cut it for you, if you ask.  
  • Trim off some of the excess fat, if you desire (but not all of it !)  If you’re like me, and a little frightened by the big splotches white, just trim off some of the fat.   Don’t get too obsessive over it, however, as you actually do want some of that fat to cook with the meat in order to allow for extra tenderness, juiciness, and flavor.  And trust me – the fat will melt right off of the meat, anyway, when it is finished.
  • Toss the cubed meat into the slow-cooker.
  • Season the meat with salt, pepper, oregano, paprika, cumin (and any other seasonings, should you choose to add-on), and toss to coat.  If using liquid smoke, pour the small amount into the pot.
  • Sprinkle the minced garlic & red pepper flakes over top the meat.  Cut the yellow onion half into 2 or 3 chunks, and rest the pieces, intact, on top of the meat.

If you are making this ahead of time, put the lid over the crock pot and let sit  in the fridge, absorbing that extra flavor. Otherwise, go ahead and plug it in and get it started! Trust me, your flavor will be delicious, as is.

  • Cook on low setting for 6-7 hours.

  • When finished, and ready to serve; remove from the pot with a meshed or slotted spoon, placing it into a pile on a cutting board or plate.
  • Discard the onion pieces.
  • Using a fork, press onto the pork to shred into pieces.  This will not be a labor intensive process, in the least, as it will literally just fall apart under the fork.
  • Dish out onto plates, and garnish with freshly chopped cilantro.  Serve as-is, or top with a seasoned & sautéed assortment of bell peppers, onion, and carrots; as imaged below. This mix of veggies, I’ve found, complements the meat really well! And, of course, it offers more resemblance to the innards of a yummy burrito.

Slow Cooked Chuck Roast

Slow Cooked Grass-Fed Chuck Roast & Veggies, with a side of Rainbow Chard Salad

Link to:  Rainbow Chard Salad

Slow-cooking is a relatively new thing for me.  I mean, the slow cooker has been literally sitting in my kitchen, readily available to me, all well-intentioned, for about a year now, just begging to be used.  But I can’t believe it took me this long.  So much easier just having some contraption sitting on the counter, cooking for me while I’m slaving away at work – and a great method for ye ‘ol 4HB lifestyle!

So, if you don’t mind, allow me to mildly deviate here and talk for a second about meat.  The husband and I have been frequenting this fantastic butcher shop in La Jolla, CA for the majority of our grass-fed meats lately: Homegrown Meats.  We never quite know what we’re in the market for when we enter…just depends what kind of sweet meats they have on display that day! Some things standard; some things new.  But we stock up…and we stock up well. This time I went for the chuck roast. Never having actually cooked a roast before; I was fully aware that, in the day of the internet, it is easy enough to pull up a well-enough reviewed, and easy-enough, bare-boned recipe off of which to base my own concoction.

So…without further adieu, I present to you – Chuck Roast.  Melt-in-your-mouth, fall right off the bone (if your meat even HAS a bone), style.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds chuck roast
  • salt, pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tbsp paprika
  • 1/2 tbsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp liquid smoke (optional)
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
Directions:
Take the chuck roast and season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika.
In a large skillet over high heat, brown on all sides.
Place into the slow cooker and add the chopped veggies, onion powder, paprika, liquid smoke, and beef broth.  Place the quartered onion pieces on top of the meat and sprinkle with minced garlic.
Cover the crock pot and cook on low setting for 8-10 hours.  And…
Remove the meat and vegetables from the pot, reserving some of the remaining liquid for gravy.
And that, my friends, is the recipe to a melt-in-your-mouth, slow cooked hunk of meat, that is so tender and moist, it will just fall apart with the slightest touch of your fork.  And the veggies are so soft, yet not too soft where they just turn into a big pile of mush at the bottom of the pot.  Pretty much the whole package here, folks.  And as I always say, feel free to add some red pepper flakes or other spices if you crave that extra bite.
Work all day, home-cooked comfort food ready for the table just in time to welcome you back home.  Thanks for all your hard work, ol’ crock.