I have a problem. I may have to find a SCA (Slow Cooking Anonymous) meeting.
I just bought my 5th slow cooker.
To be fair, I run a baking business out of my home kitchen and my ovens are nearly always on, and filled with biscotti, breads, or scones. This makes it very hard (at times) to get dinner on the table at a reasonable hour – so I have turned to slow cookers to fill the needs of my family (Do they really need a home cooked meal every night?) and the needs of my business. It’s a delicate balance, and five slow cookers seem to be the magic number – or at least I’ll keep telling myself that.
I have scoured all the normal resources for slow cooker meals, and let me tell you – there is a lot of bad stuff out there. There is nothing worse than letting a meal cook away, yummy aromas wafting through your kitchen, only to find soupy and dry (how does that happen anyway?!) slop on your plate and wrinkled noses on your children’s faces.
This. THIS, however, is a dish that has a thick sauce, tender meat*, and even contains a starch that is neither mushy (no pun intended!) or tasteless at the end. Here is the kicker – it is SO good you don’t even need the meat. Make this without the pork and you have a wonderful and tummy-filling Meatless Monday.
* This meat dish is the most tender if you use pork shoulder (also called Boston Butt). If you are in a pinch, or don’t want to break up a large pork shoulder, country style boneless pork chops can be substituted.
Cooking Time 5 1/2 hours to 7 1/2 hours
8 ounces slices white mushrooms
1 cup chopped onion
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
0.4 ounce package dried portobella mushrooms, chopped
2 tablespoons instant tapioca
salt and pepper
2 pounds pork shoulder
18 ounces (1 tube) cooked polenta (also called cornmeal mush here in the midwest)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Combine white mushrooms, chopped onion, tomato paste, olive oil, garlic, and crushed red pepper flakes in a medium bowl. Microwave 2 1/2 minutes, stir, then cook for another 2 1/2 minutes. Drain.–
– Place drained cooked vegetables, dried portobella mushrooms and instant tapioca in slow cooker and stir until combined.
– Slice pork shoulder into 2 inch cubes. Lightly salt and pepper. Nestle pork into vegetable mixture in slow cooker.
– Set slow cooker on high for 5 hours (or low for 7 hours).
– When 5 hours (or 7) have expired, slice polenta into 1/4 inch rounds and shingle over top of pork filling. Top with Parmesan cheese.
– Set slow cooker on high for an additional 30 minutes, letting the cheese melt and polenta warm through. Serve.
I think it is nearly impossible to take a good picture of a crock pot dish…. Please note – I did not use all the polenta called for in the recipe and regretted it. Use it all, and shingle (overlap) more than I did here: