Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Pulled Pork

Last week, I brought home a new baby.  No, not a cat (oh, I wish…): a culinary toy.

After reading all the recipes out there for slow cooker-this and slow cooker-that, I decided to purchase one.  I also had a gift receipt return from an ill-fated present, and I cashed it in on this:

A 6 ½ quart Cuisinart slow cooker!

Now why a slow cooker instead of a Dutch oven?  Well, I will purchase a Dutch oven in the Fall when the temperatures dip and it won’t cause a nuclear meltdown in my house if the oven is on for three hours.  The slow cooker is meant to be a more efficient use of electricity AND the heat is better contained on the counter when it’s 100 degrees outside.

So, why not just grill?

Grilling is great for some items, like marinated grass-fed flap steak.  Yumm…  But, it involves standing on the back porch in the unforgiving sun, slaving over a 300 degree grill when the outside air is 100 degrees.  And, uh, the grill is my husband’s domain.  If it’s one thing I’ve learned in eight years of marriage, it’s don’t mess with your husband’s cooking utensils.

Besides, I was intrigued by the concept of slow cooking a 5-pound slab of meat and having lunch made for the next five days for both people.

What to make for its debut?  It had to be Everyday Paleo’s Beyond Easy Pulled Pork (click here for recipe).

I only have two complaints, and I did follow the recipe:

1.   I had two cups of liquid at the bottom of the ceramic container when the pork finished, and I wasn’t expecting soooo much.  The roast was wonderfully juicy and it DID fall off the bone.  So, why so much water?  Was that the water that was pumped into my meat before it ever made it to the butcher’s case?!  Ick.  Still, was I supposed to keep the liquid?  Help me out here.  I’m new to this.

2.   It wasn’t spicy enough.  But in the interest of full disclosure, we like really spicy food (we should probably vacation in Thailand) and what’s spicy to my Minnesotan in-law’s is bland to us.

After pulling apart the entire roast and storing it in containers, I reheated a serving by sautéing 6-8 ounces with some bacon fat (oh, yeah, baby), paprika, cayenne, sea salt, cumin and chili powder.  This worked wonders!  I’ve been making Chipotle-style burrito bowls for my husband (he eats rice), and I’ve been eating the pork with homemade guacamole.

Update: Amy at lowcarbhighstyle said she pulls the pork while it is still in the slow cooker, and she spoons the liquid over the meat so the meat reabsorbs the liquid.  That explains why her pictures of pork (and the original author of the recipe at Everyday Paleo) look so succulent and juicy and mine don't - not that mine's dry.  Mystery solved; thanks, Amy!

one of my containers full of pulled pork

spicey girl spices

oh so yummy in the tummy: very spicy pork, homemade guacamole, and celery root remoulade

On my other blog, cupcakecaramel, you can visit a recipe I made for today’s lunch: Ina Garten’s Celery Root Remoulade.  This was a surprisingly low-carb salad for a root vegetable.  If you follow her recipe, the entire net carb count is just under 30 – for the whole recipe.  It’s a Continental upgrade from cole slaw.



Erin said...

Rebekah, this is a great post and I can't wait to try this recipe! As for the "water" in the bottom of the slow cooker, these are the natural juices that are in the meat. When we grill or roast something the high heat produced by those cooking methods causes most of the juice to evaporate. When you slow cook, the combination of the lid and lower temp cause you to lose less of this juice which in turn usually turns out a moister product, a definite benefit for something like pork. I was not used to this either until I did a little research and found the reason. If you look at most slow cooker recipes you will see that they require much less liquid than there traditional stovetop counterparts. Hopes this helps. Keep the great posts coming, I really enjoy your insight.

Celia M. c. said...

WOW!! this sounds yummy!! and we have the same slower cooker (though ours sits in storage most of the time..) you have inspired me to get out. I hope you share more slow cooker recipes in the future... xo HHL

Stephanie said...

What she said....

The slow cooker does not allow moisture to evaporate so food gives off whatever water is in it, plus the liquid you add to it and it stays there, multiplying it seems.

This looks really good.

Anonymous said...

@ Erin - I didn't add any water to my pork (an onion on the botton, dry rub, and an onion on top). I assumed there'd be a bit of evaporation, but I wasn't expecting that much! Thanks for explaining, though; I'm glad I didn't do anything wrong.

@ Celia - count on more slow cooker recipes! Summer's coming and I need my daily protein requirement. My next project is experimenting with chicken thighs.

@ Stephanie - My big question is do I toss the liquid or pour it back over the meat? The meat is already very tender, but I'm not sure if I'm really supposed to dispose of the liquid. My learning curve is high.

Anita said...

May I recommend this recipe from Cook's Country (the same folks from Cook's Illustrated?):
I have made it many times and it is delicious. It tells you what to do with the liquid and put it to good use.

For a low-carb version, I use a little diabetisweet brown "sugar" for the rub and sauce (or could use Splenda), and reduced-sugar ketchup.

Ank said...

I have an easy fix if you want a grilled meat ( i love grilled trout) quick , not much heat, and slaving over. Buy a stovetop gas grill. Like this:
The heat is contained, it's easy to use ( and mostly dishwasher safe) , and a salmon medallion takes 8 minutes on each part to cook. The most easy recipe ever. Before i discovered it, I was baking fish in the oven. Now, I'm too lazy , i just grill it, and make a salad :)
I love your slow cooker though. I like stews, but I don't have the patience for non chicken ones. With a slow cooker, this might change.