Since January, I’ve cut our monthly “Food and Household Consumable” budget by 25%. While I’m pleased that I’ve been able to pull it off, it has meant a near-total elimination of paying other people to make food for me, and a significant increase in the amount of work I am doing in the kitchen. Scratch making things is cost-effective (provided certain assumptions about the value of your labor). Unfortunately, the additional work, combined with the uninspiring late winter/early spring vegetable selection (fresh tomatoes seem so far away), has me pretty well exhausted by even the thought of cooking.
Fortunately, it is in situations like these where slow cookers shine. They’re great, not just because you can cook giant quantities of beans in them, but also because you can sneak in cooking before you are too hungry and exhausted by life to exert the effort to feed yourself. Slow cooking–it’s a gift for Future You!
So. This pork. It’s great in tacos, nachos, or burritos. It’s decadent over cheese grits. I’ve eaten it happily in a bowl of ramen. We’ve stuffed regular potatoes with it, we’ve stuffed sweet potatoes with it (definitely try that one). I suspect it would be great in tamales. Put it in your quesadilla! Put it in your breakfast burrito! Add some to your huevos rancheros! Put it on small roll with shredded cabbage and call it a slider! Enchiladas? Sure! Topping for fried polenta squares? Why not! Eaten cold from a bowl straight from the fridge because you can’t even be bothered? Absolutely! It’s dang versatile, and it freezes beautifully. Make a big batch and freeze some–Future You will appreciate your thoughtfulness.
- 2 to 3 lbs of cheap pork (I usually use bone-in pork shoulder, but it’ll definitely work with boneless shoulder, and probably other cuts, too. Probably not tenderloin, though. You can trim off excess fat and save it for later rendering or sausage.)
- 1 lb of green chilies, roasted, peeled, and de-seeded. (Frozen is fine. Frozen is great. You will have a delicious meal with frozen green chiles. Don’t make this hard on yourself.)
- 1 large onion (I usually use white or yellow, but honestly use what you’ve got. You could substitute 3-4 shallots and it’d be great. Hell, you could even use the white part of leeks, or an obscene amount of garlic. Just, like, pick something edible from the allium family.)
- Approximately 14 oz of salsa verde.
- Fat with high smoke point, for searing (canola oil, ghee, whatever. Honestly I usually use butter, but then my kitchen smokes up and I have to open the doors and windows, so be ye therefore warned)
- Salt, to taste
- Liberally salt the outside of chunk o’ pork. If you’re feeling fancy or have extra time on your hands, let it sit uncovered in the fridge for 8-24 hours to allow the salt to penetrate the pork and dissolve proteins and stuff.
- When you’re ready to start cooking, slice the onion into half-rings and arrange them in a layer in the bottom of the slow cooker.
- Drop a tablespoon or two of fat with a high smoke point into a skillet, and heat the skillet over medium-high heat. Don’t do this in a non-stick skillet. Use a stainless steel skillet, or a cast iron one.
- Consider turning on the fan above your stove, as this step can get a bit smoky. Once the skillet is good and hot, sear each side of the chunk o’ pork. Basically, put a raw side of the chunk o’ pork in contact with the hot skillet, and leave it there for a minute or two until that side gets brown. Rotate the chunk o’ pork until all of the sides have a nice brown crust on them.
- Drop the freshly-seared chunk o’ pork on top of the sliced onions in the slow cooker.
- Pour the salsa verde over the top of the chunk o’ pork.
- Wedge the green chilies in the slow cooker with everything else. Yes, it’s okay if they’re still frozen. They’ll eventually unfreeze.
- Cover and cook on low for 8 hours. Usually, around 5 or 6 hours in, I give things a bit of a stir to break apart any large chunks of green chile. If things are too liquid-y for your tastes or application, prop the lid of the slow cooker on a wooden spoon to allow for additional liquid evaporation for the last hour or so of cooking.
- Shred with two forks, remove bones, and stir before serving.
Serves 8-10, depending on serving application.