Make ahead meals are a real snap with a slow cooker. Look for one that has an insert that can go on the stovetop; this way you can brown meat and veggies before starting the actual slow cooking — adding a richness of flavor you just can’t get otherwise.
Pork is one of my favorite meats to slow cook. My favorite cuts: pork shoulder and pork sirloin tip roast. Cut the meat into 2 inch chunks for chile verde, or leave larger and shred after cooking for pulled pork. I have several posts that can guide you, but really anything goes — brown the meat for best flavor, add veggies or not, 3 cups of braising liquid, then slow cook for 6 hours. Get creative and explore the flavor possibilities: sweet and tangy like the cider braise below or homemade apple mustard sauce, sweet and spicy using a bottled BBQ sauce (Korean and Island flavors work great), or spicy Chile Verde.
- 4 lbs. pork sirloin tip roast or pork shoulder
- 1 Tbsp. sea salt
- 2 tsp. ground cumin
- ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil or grapeseed oil
- 2 Tbsp olive oil or grapeseed oil
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 1 leek, chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and quartered
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 12 oz. hard cider or apple cider
- 1 12 oz. bottle of beer (or substitute additional cider)
- optional: ¼ cup Olivelle's Smoked Maple Sauce (or other apple or maple grille sauce)
- Bring pork to room temperature and dry with paper towels if moist. Cut into 8 chunks.
- Mix together the salt, cumin and cinnamon and sprinkle all over the pork.
- Heat the oil in a stove-top safe slow cooker insert, or dutch oven, like Le Creuset. Brown the meat on all sides. Take the time to develop a crispy outer layer on the meat, this will add great flavor to your braise. Remove meat to plate, pour off fat from pot and discard.
- Add oil to pot and heat over medium-high. Toss in the onion, leek, and carrots, sprinkle with sea salt and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add cider and boil for a minute. Add beer (or cider), optional Smoked Maple Sauce, and reserved meat plus any juices that have accumulated on the plate. Set your slow cooker on high for 6 hours, or use your dutch oven (with lid) on your stovetop (low simmer for 2.5 - 3 hours).
- After cooking, remove and discard carrots, as they have given all they have to the sauce. Break apart meat with a wooden spoon and serve with polenta, bread or rolls. This cider braised pork likes a little grainy mustard at serving time -- provides a nice acid contrast to the sweetness.