Wednesday, April 8, 2009

I heart My Slow Cooker

There are a lot of new-fangled slow cookers out there (removable inserts for easy cleaning, multiple heat settings, timers to change from low to medium to high), there are also a lot cookbooks with slow cooker recipes that range from vegetable soup (vegetables in slow cooker = mush) to chocolate cake (why?), but I love my $1.00 thrift store special! I think that there are two things that work well in a slow cooker and both are different ways of doing meat. The recipe below is my favorite. Change the cans to 2 of green salsa and you have chili verde, change the seasonings to something Italian (and the cans to just tomatoes) and you have a great main dish to serve with pasta or polenta.

Slow Cooker Pork Taco Filling
3 to 4 pounds pork
1 can of El Pato tomato sauce
1 can of Herdez Salsa Ranchero
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, diced
1 T ground cumin
1 T oregano
1 T chili powder
tiniest smidge of cinnamon

  • Trim the fat from whatever boneless pork is on sale (but don't go crazy, fat=flavor). If you're doing meat in the oven, the fat renders and drips into the pan, but if you're doing meat in the slow cooker all the fat stays in the cooker.
  • Sprinkle the meat with salt and pepper. Heat a little oil in a large frying pan and brown it on all sides - you're not cooking it now, just creating flavor (because brown also = flavor). Put the meat in the slow cooker and put the lid on.
  • In the same pan, saute the onion until the edges start to brown, scraping up any good bits the pork left behind. Then add the garlic and saute just until it starts to brown.
  • Sprinkle the onions and garlic with the cumin, oregano, cinnamon, and chili powder. Have your cans open and ready so you can toast this mixture until the pan is dry and things are sticking. Then, quick, dump in your cans and bring to a bubble (I never add anything cold to my cooker) scraping the bottom to get all the toasted goodness off.
  • Pour this over the meat in the cooker and give it a bit of a stir so that the meat is coated. Scrape down the inside of the cooker so that no sauce is splashed above the line of sauce/meat (this helps with clean-up and prevents burned edges).
  • Cook on High for 6 to 8 hours.
  • Serve this in any way that you like tacos. We usually toast some corn tortillas and top with cilantro, sour cream, and a squeeze of lime. It's also great with beans and rice, or as a sandwich.

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