Much as I love cooking, I’m less inclined when the weather is warm. My kitchen is quite small and my hair can’t take standing next to a hot oven or over a sink of steamy suds without expanding to an enormous size. I make a lot of salads and sandwiches and usually rediscover the George Forman grill for cooking summer veg without heat or hassle.
This year though I have a new trick up my sleeve: the slow cooker. Sitting quietly in the corner, just getting on with things, it’s a great way to whip up proper food without heating the house up or having to be indoors when the garden looks so inviting in the brief flashes of sunshine. I had such good results with cooking ribs in the slow cooker recently, I decided to do my take on the pulled pork craze sweeping street food circles at the moment.
My local butcher had a piece of pork shoulder for around £4.50 a kilo and I knew that slow cooking would render it something special. It cried out for lots of spicing and a bit of chilli spiked heat and after marinading for 24 hours, it went into the slow cooker for 8 hours for a no effort meal. I ate the leftovers for several days afterwards, piled high on tortillas with shredded cabbage and salad like a homemade kebab, dotted through rice and packed into a sandwich and slathered with homemade salsa.
Slow Cooked Spiced Pork
- 1 shoulder or hand of pork
- I tablespoon smoked paprika
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried)
- 1 tablespoon coriander seed
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 scotch bonnet pepper or 2 dried red chillies
- 2 limes juiced and zested
Make your marinade by blitzing together the all ingredients above, adding enough lime juice to make a spreadable paste. Poke small holes in your piece of pork with a skewer and then while wearing latex or nitrile gloves, rub the marinade into it well. The gloves are vital if you use the scotch bonnet and don’t want a comedy ‘and then I touched…’ anecdote. Allow the marinade to do its job for up to 24 hours in the fridge.
When you’re ready to cook the pork, preheat your slow cooker and take the pork out of the fridge at the same time so it’s not cooking from cold. Pop into the slow cooker on a low heat and put the lid on. Do not add any liquid. Leave to cook for 6-7 hours, leaving well alone.
After this length of time, lift the pork out and place on a plate. Carefully pour the surprisingly large amount of fat and liquid out of the ceramic insert into a jug and allow to cool. Put the pork back in and turn the heat up. Allow to cook for another hour or two or until you’re too hungry to wait any longer. Take the pork out and shred with two forks.
You could turn this into pulled pork with a barbecue sauce and shredding the meat finely. I kept mine fresher with some of my homemade hot sauce stirred into roasted baby plum tomatoes for a quick salsa, but really the only limit with this dish is your imagination! (I also did one with fresh coriander and chilli as above.) It’s simple food at its very best. Just try not to eat all leftovers out of the fridge and keep some to do your several days at a time!