I recently shared something with y’all on Instagram: I don’t love the slow cooker. On the other hand, one thing I truly love within my relationship with Justin is our ability to be honest with each other. We have no issue calling out one another’s bullshit or giving our opinion, and I think it has helped to establish a strong foundation. It has been—so refreshing— and this way since day 1 and it continues to grow.
Where am I going with this? Justin called me out. “You don’t like the slow cooker because it’s boring to you. It’s not challenging, so you don’t like it and you avoid it.”
Well I’ll be [insert knee jerk slap]. “You’re right.” And UGH, wouldn’t we all rather receive those two-and-a-half words instead of dole them out ourselves? Who likes to admit they are wrong? I guessss there’s strength in admitting you’re wrong….
The second Hemsley + Hemsley cookbook has been on my shelf for over a year, and I believe, as pathetic as it is, this is the first recipe I have made from their sophomore debut. With a little creativity, the pork lasted two solid dinners, and one lunch.
The first night we enjoyed as prepared, and I added roasted brussel sprouts, parsnips, and turnips. The next night, we created carnitas nachos for J and a burrito bowl of sorts for me. J finished the pork for lunch over rice the next day.
With work travel schedules, we don’t always find ourselves home on a Sunday to enjoy a home cooked meal, but this particular Sunday, as un-challenging as it was to not stand in the kitchen for 2 hours, it was just as challenging to sit still on the couch, but it was amazing! I felt like I had all of the time. So maybe, just those things that don’t seemingly upfront challenge us, should be welcomed as, you guessed it, a challenge. And the challenge is accepting the unchallenging aspects of life.
Smoky Slow Cooked Pork
*Adapted from Hemsley + Hemsley’s “Good + Simple,” and https://themindfuleater.ca/slow-cooked-pork/
Small Bowl with mixing spoon
2 lb. boneless pork shoulder
3 bay leaves
4 Tbl. Apple Cider Vinegar
3 medium apples, cored and chopped into chunks
3 garlic cloves, crushed
½ Tbl. Ground black pepper
½ Tbl. Fennel seeds or ground fennel
1 Tbl. Sweet smoked paprika
½ Tbl. Cumin
2 Tsp. ground Cinnamon (I have to admit, we didn’t have it and omitted it and I am so sad! I think it would have really elevated the flavor, but Justin definitely didn’t notice)
½ - ¾ Tsp. chili flakes
1 Tbl. Sea salt
Combine all the spices together in the bowl.
Put the remaining ingredients (apples, bay leaves, ACV) in a slow cooker, give them a mix, and place the meat on top. With a sharp knife, score the pork all over and then rub the spice mixture well into the meat.
Cover with the lid and cook on low for 8 hours (or on high for 4-5 hours if you don’t have the time). Alternatively, place in an ovenproof casserole dish with a tight-fitting lid and cook in the oven (preheated to 325 degrees F) for 6–8 hours.
At the end of the cooking time, place the meat in a dish (or just keep in slow cooker) and use two forks to shred it. Remove the bay leaves. Place the pulled pork back into the slow cooker or casserole dish and toss in the smoky apple sauce. Switch to "warm" (or turn the oven temperature down lower) and keep covered until ready to serve.
Make Ahead Options
As I mentioned this tasted great warmed up the next day. By day 3 it was not the greatest anymore, but prepping one day ahead and reheating would work just fine. Alternatively, I’d be interested in scoring the meat all over and letting the rub sit for 24+hours prior to slow-cooking.
- Remember not to lift the lid of the slow cooker to check on the pork. You can adjust the flavor after 8 hours, but every time you lift the lid you add on 20 minutes of cooking time! This was so hard, the house smelled divine!