Crockpot

Whenever I think of crockpots for cooking, I always imagine there will be a big, soupy mess of overcooked food and soggy vegetables.  Not appealing.

My first crockpot was all one piece, which meant cleaning it was a chore – avoiding total submersion in water to clean off all the scum and debris that dripped out from under the glass lid.  It was also a hideous color and had a cheap feel to it.  The cord was a “safety cord,” so short you had to unplug it to check the mess blurping away inside.

Since then, while the concept has remained the same, construction has improved considerably.  The cooking pot can come out of the heating element.  Well, duh!  It oughta, like this one above, which is very similar to mine.

I always wondered who designed the original crockpot – someone who was cheap?   Someone who had servants who did their bidding?  Someone whose mom or wife did all the cleanup, as a good woman should?  These things were ridiculously poor in design, but clever in concept.  The fact that the pot could not be removed was my big issue.

Since the days of yore, crockpot cookery, also known as slow cooking, has come a long way.  Recipes are not just icky stews, but include all sorts kinds, from soups, to main courses, and desserts.

The other day I found a recipe for Cuban pulled pork, traditionally slow-cooked on the stovetop with citrus.  Someone mentioned they had cooked it all day long on low, in their crockpot, so I decided to do it.  The result was fantastic because all I did was cook the pork, not make an soupy mess to serve for dinner.

Crockpot Pulled Pork (or, What I Did)

Step 1

  • 3-4 lbs. pork tenderloin
  • 1 orange, quartered
  • 1 qt. chicken broth, low sodium
  • 2 large onions, quartered
  • lots of garlic cloves, peeled and left whole (I used about 6)
  • cumin
  • 2 T. peppercorns

Note: Before doing anything, you may want to brown the tenderloin in a pan.  I didn’t, because the crockpot method I looked at did not say to do so; I think it might add to the final flavor.

Pierce tenderloin and place whole garlic cloves inside. Place all ingredients into crockpot. Pour in chicken broth.

Place crockpot on low, cook 6-10 hours.

Step 2

  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • cumin
  • pepper
  • salt
  • chili pepper or other hot pepper powder, flakes

Take pork out of crockpot; pull off any peppercorns. Place into bowl, and using 2 forks, shred meat.

In frying pan, add 1-2 T. olive oil; sautee onion until soft and translucent, or caramelized if you prefer. Set aside in a bowl.

Add more oil to pan.  Add shredded pork; stir fry the meat until it is a bit dry and maybe beginning to brown a bit on the tips of the meat.  Season with suggested spices, or whatever you prefer.  Return sauteed onion to pan, heat a bit more.

Serve with black beans, rice or fried plantains.  We also had some shredded jack-white cheddar, salsa, sour cream, fresh cilantro, and a green salad.  Additionally, we used fresh limes to squeeze over the meat.  It is also good for burritos, tacos, or gussying up with barbecue sauce – but I expect how I would cook it would be a bit differently if barbecued pork was my final goal.

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