We are finally, finally, in the thick of spring — the sun is out, at least some of the time, and the windows are open, at least part of the day. And the ability to stand being outside for more than ten minutes at a time has me pondering the things that sustained me through this miserable winter.
In a word: Pork, and lots of it.
One of the best things I did this winter was develop a variation on the famous ProfHacker pulled pork recipe, engineered away from barbecue and towards carnitas. In the spirit of the commons, I now want to pass this on for further experimentation and remix.
One note of not-exactly caution: I invariably pretty much eyeball the spices, so the rub is totally much a YMMV thing. That said, I have yet to have this turn out anything less than awesome.
2 large or 3 medium yellow onions
6ish cloves minced/crushed garlic
coarse kosher salt
Morton & Bassett Mexican Blend spice mix
5ish-lbs bone-in pork shoulder or pork shanks
2 fresh jalapenos
1 tub hot salsa (of the pico de gallo sort, usually found in the produce section)
1/2 cup chicken stock
Very coarsely chop the onions and cover the bottom of a large-size slow cooker with them. Mix the garlic, salt, spice mix, oregano, paprika, and olive oil, which together should form a nice thick rust-colored paste.
Wash the pork and pat dry. Rub it thoroughly on all sides with the spice mix, and place on top of the onions. (If you use a pork shoulder, place it fat side up.)
Clean and chop the jalapenos, and scatter them on top of the pork roast. Pour the tub of hot salsa over the roast, and then add the chicken stock.
Turn the slow cooker on low, and… let it do its thing, for something on the order of 10 hours. I sometimes start this early in the morning, so that it’s ready for dinner. But even more often I start it after dinner and let it cook overnight. (The house fills with the smell of amazingly good pork, which produces really interesting dreams.)
In any case, the roast should be utterly falling apart by the time it’s done. Pull it out of the slow cooker a chunk at a time, cleaning away the fat and shredding the meat.
Because we tend to use the meat over the course of several days in things like tacos (soft corn tortillas, cheese, good salsa and guacamole), I store the meat in a large container, adding a bit of the cooking liquid that the roast leaves behind to keep it moist. I also totally recommend straining the rest of the cooking liquid (and removing the thick layer of fat from it), which leaves behind a super-rich gelatinous broth excellent for doing things like cooking greens.
And that’s how I made it through the winter. That and a series of chicken roasting experiments. But that’s another post entirely.