Pulled Pork Tacos

Pulled Pork Tacos

Click here for Pulled Pork Tacos

Creeking

Photo Credit: My friend Liz over at superveggiemom.com

Summer. If I had it my way, we would leave the house in the morning and wander back around dinner time, only to venture out again for chasing fireflies. There would be creek wading, crawdad hunting, fossil searches, water fights, tag playing, and an occasional break relaxing on a blanket carefully placed in the shade.

Let’s face it. This only happens a handful of times during our crushingly busy summer, and since I want to bask in the sun and not fret over the always-looming question “what’s for dinner?” I toss this in the slow cooker and don’t look back. Not once.

It’s easy, kid-pleasing (for mine, “No slaw, please. But, add avocado!”) and not too filling after a hot, long day. I don’t know what to tell you about left overs, because we never have any. If you do, I’d love to know how you managed them.

 

 

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Pan Fried Pork Chops (Gluten Free)

Fried Pork ChopsClick here for Pan Fried Pork Chops recipe.

The bacon fat jar was a fixture at the farm house. Crack open a jar of green beans – put some bacon fat on them. Lima beans? Bacon fat. Potato Soup? Start with bacon. Scrambled eggs? You guessed it. Smear that skillet with bacon fat first.

So a few weeks ago when a friend asked our Facebook Mama’s Group “I have pork in the fridge – what should I make for dinner?” My answer was, “fry it in bacon fat, of course. What could be better than pork fried in pork?”.

My, my. What interesting conversations arose from there. I found that some of my friends kept their bacon fat and it held a special place in their kitchen. Others did not. I un-friended them. (jk).

 

Slow Cooker Pork & Polenta

Slow Cooker Pork and Polenta3

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

Ingredients

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

 

Preparation

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.

Slow Cooker Pork and Polenta1

– 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:

Pork and Polenta4