Monday, February 20, 2012

Slow to the Slow Cooker

I received a slow-cooker from my mother-in-law when my husband and I first moved to Chicago back in 2004, I had actually never even seen one before that moment. I used my slow cooker for soups all of the time. I thought it was amazing; prep the night before, dump everything into it in the morning and go to work. I could put a full nine or ten hour day in at work, go to the gym and then come home and still have dinner before 8pm. Amazing.

A few years later, my brother and sister-in-law gave me an even fancier slow cooker. This one had gadgets and beeped and you could set times on it (whhhaatt?!) I loved it. Again, I kept using it to make soups. I guess for some reason the idea of cooking meat inside it just didn’t sit well. Even when I made my Italian Wedding soup, I’d cook the meatballs in the oven (mind you, these aren’t tiny balls, people) before putting everything in the slow cooker.

It wasn’t until my father, King of the Fear of Food Born Parasites (you’ve ready my post on his aversion to chicken that doesn't look and feel like rubber), started cooking meat in his slow cooker, that I broke down. And of course I learned, yet again, that the only thing to fear is fear itself. I mean, if I’ll eat calf brain, there really shouldn’t be a problem with me slow cooking my own pork.

The following recipe combines many of the things I love in this world, spices, pork, corn tortillas, a reason to make guacamole. And it’s insanely easy. I am a little sad that I’ve spent the last eight years fearing my slow cooker and let’s be honest, sometimes I’m just really lazy (I can’t always think ahead about dinner…which the slow cooker makes you do). So learn from my mistakes and enjoy!


3 whole ancho chiles (these are dried Poblanos, you can get them at most grocery stores)

4 cloves garlic, peeled

2 to 3 chipotles in adobo sauce

1/2 medium white onion, roughly chopped

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

Kosher salt

2 teaspoons dried oregano

3 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth

4 pounds boneless pork shoulder (untrimmed), cut into chunks (I’ve found this in the store labeled “Country Ribs”)

Freshly ground pepper

2 bay leaves

1 cinnamon stick

For Garnish:

Corn Tortillas

Chopped Red Onion




Put the ancho bowl with water and microwave on high until soft and pliable, 2 to 3 minutes. Stem and seed the chiles. Transfer the chiles to a blender, add the chipotles, onion, garlic, 2 tablespoons olive oil, honey, vinegar, 1 tablespoon salt and the oregano to the blender; puree until smooth.

Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over high heat; add the chile sauce and cook (keep stirring it) until thick, this should take about 8 minutes. The smell should become strong. Pour in the broth and reduce until slightly thickened.

Season the pork all over with salt and pepper and transfer to a large slow cooker. Add the bay leaves, cinnamon stick and pour the sauce over it. Cover and cook on high until the meat is tender, about 5 hours or so.

Before servicing, while still in the slow cooker, take two forks and shred the pork.

Warm the tortillas in the microwave (place paper towels on either side of them) and cook for one minute.

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