“The day the Lord created hope was the same day he/she created spring.” Bern Williams
Yesterday my sister and I were talking, admittedly complaining, about the brutal winter and our excitement about the warmer weather in the near future. She lives in the Philadelphia area and remarked that her daffodils were just peeking their heads above ground. Although they were predicting snow the following day, she said this sighting gave her hope. In addition to love, it is my belief that hope is an essential ingredient to a good life. It is what keeps us moving forward regardless of our circumstances.
Although spring is officially here on Thursday, I know we are still in need of comfort food. My comfort this week came in the form of a pork shoulder roast. I love to braise those cheaper, tougher, cuts of meat until they are fall off the bone tender. The secret is low and slow, so for this recipe I chose the slow cooker as my vessel. Not always a big fan of slow cookers, I felt it worked perfect for this easy recipe. Ideal for a weeknight dinner, you can turn it on in the morning and when you come home from work, it greets you with a fabulous aroma and makes for a very satisfying meal.
Here is how it went down. You will be amazed at how easy it is to do the prep.
EASY SLOW COOKER PULLED PORK Makes 6 servings
Adapted from a recipe by Christine Gallary
1T packed dark brown sugar (I used light)
1T chili powder (I used medium hot)
1T kosher salt
½ t ground cumin
¼ t cinnamon
1 (4 ½ – 5 lb. bone-in pork shoulder AKA pork butt)
2 medium yellow onions, sliced thin
4 large garlic cloves, sliced thin (I just peeled and crushed and left them whole)
1c chicken stock
2c barbecue sauce (optional)
- Combine the sugar, chili powder, salt, cumin and cinnamon in a small bowl. Pat the pork roast dry. Rub the spice mixture all over the roast, massaging it in.
- Place the onions and garlic in an even layer on the bottom of the slow cooker. Place the roast on top. Add the chicken stock.
- Cover and cook until the pork is fork tender, 6-8 hrs. on high or 8-10 on low.
- Turn off the slow cooker and remove the meat to a cutting board. If desired, strain the solids from the liquid.
- Remove the bone and shred meat using two forks or slice as desired with a knife.
- Skim fat from the liquid. Serve with cooking liquid on top as a sauce or return the meat to the slow cooker and add enough of it back to the meat to make it moist but not soupy.
- If desired, barbecue sauce can be substituted for the cooking liquid and meat can be used for pulled pork sandwiches.
This is a very versatile recipe. I served it as a main dish for dinner topped with the braising liquid, including the onions and garlic, with a side of sautéed kale. For lunch the next day, I shredded the remaining meat and mixed it with some barbecue sauce, put it on a toasted ciabatta roll with a few slices of pickled jalapeno and there you have it! Make enough for a crowd or vary the presentation for several meals.
I think the key to the amazing flavor is the dry rub. Cinnamon may seem a bit odd in the mix but it adds an intriguing addition to savory dishes. As I noted above, I used a medium hot chili powder but you could give it more heat as you desire. You can rub your meat the night before so it is ready for the cooker the following morning or do it just before cooking as time dictates. Don’t forget the step of skimming the excess fat off the top, you will be glad you did as it improves the mouth feel and in general enhances the eating experience. Don’t have a slow cooker? For sure this can be cooked in the oven or on top of the stove using traditional braising methods. You will, however, forego the opportunity to cover and go.
Although the official start of spring is upon us, we all know there is still plenty of weather in store that evokes those cravings for comfort.
“The first day of spring is one thing, the first spring day is another. The difference between them is sometimes as great as a month.” Henry Van Dyke
Here’s to hoping it doesn’t play out like that but meantime we can create comfort and keep spreading the love, one dish at a time. Until next time, keep your chin up and stomach full. Jeanne