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Crockpot Pork for Fall

b.story 10.12.22 Crockpot Pork

Tis the season… for rushing and running and wrapping. In the hectic mayhem that is our Christmas season, conjuring up the weekly dinner menu can seem like a formidable chore. There is a point where my feeble brain cannot take on one more to-do item. So, you can imagine my glee, this weekend, when my husband suggested “What about crock-pot pork?”

Crockpot pork…
The ingredients how simple.
The prep-work how merry.
Everything tastes better with fresh thyme and rosemary.
Just open the fridge, chop up vegetables and meat.
In the crockpot all day, you’ll sit down to a treat.
(sorry I couldn’t resisist)

Crock-pot pork is my ideal go-to meal for a number of reasons… I can combine the pork with local, seasonal vegetables so the meal feels fresh all year round (when it comes to meat, fruit and vegetables, I try to practice the locavore philosophy). Crock-pot pork is an ideal way to dispose of those vegetables that need a good home (I hate wasting food). And I am a softie for any comfort food that begs for dipping bread …. (I love, love, love food with sauce… and bread smothered in butter… and when the two are combined, I am in a little wedge of heaven.)

And in the cold blustery days where fall and winter merge, there is nothing better than crockpot pork with sweet potatoes served alongside braised kale and of course crusty, fresh sourdough bread! 

Crockpot Pork – Fall Style
The beauty of this dish is that you can add or subtract whatever vegetables you have on hand or prefer.  If you are running short on time, you can omit the browning of the meat and the sautéing of the onions… the flavor will be modified slightly, but the meal will still be delicious.

3 pounds pork shoulder – trimmed and cut into 2” cubes
¼ cup olive oil
salt and pepper
4-6 medium sweet potatoes – peeled and diced into 1 ½” cubes
2 medium onions – peeled and chopped into ½” x 2” wedges
1 cup red wine
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes – drained of juice
1 cup chicken broth
2 bay leaves
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
Brown rice

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper.  Add pork to pan; sauté 2 minutes, browning on all sides.

As the pork browns, prepare the sweet potatoes and place at the bottom of the slow cooker.  Once the pork has browned, place the meat on top of the sweet potatoes. Add onions to pan; sauté 2 minutes.  Add wine to onions in pan, scraping pan to loosen browned bits; cook about 5 minutes.  Place the onion mixture in cooker.

Add garlic, diced tomatoes, broth, bay leaves, and thyme to the slow cooker in layers (no need to stir together).  Cover and cook on LOW 8 hours or until pork is tender.

To serve, discard bay leaves and thyme sprigs.  Scoop pork and vegetables over brown rice.

Braised Kale
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

6 slices thick cut bacon (optional)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion (about 1 cup)
2 pounds kale – ribs removed, leaves chopped into 3” pieces and rinsed
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup water
salt
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar (or juice from 1 lemon)

Optional – Cook bacon until browned and crispy.  Remove from pan onto plate lined with paper towels; once cooled, dice bacon into 1/4” bits.  Drain fat from pan, leaving 1 tablespoon bacon fat in pan.

If cooking with bacon, add 1 tablespoon olive oil (if not cooking with bacon, heat 2 tablespoons oil) to a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until softened and beginning to brown, 4 to 5 minutes.

Add half of greens and stir until beginning to wilt, about 1 minute. Add remaining greens, broth, water, and ¼ teaspoon salt; quickly cover pot and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until greens are tender, 25 to 35 minutes.

Remove lid and increase heat to medium-high. If cooking with bacon, add it bacon back into pan.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until most of liquid has evaporated (bottom of pot will be almost dry and greens will begin to sizzle), another 5 minutes. Remove pot from heat; stir in vinegar (or lemon juice) and remaining tablespoon olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.   Serve.

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