Slow Cooker Sweet & Spicy Asian Pork Shoulder

I totally get why some people I know are obsessed with their slow cookers.  And just like how I was late to the Pinterest party, I’ve finally figured out what slow cooker love is all about.  I’m on board.  I’m with it.  I’m mad about the thing, to tell you the truth.

I spontaneously picked up a pork shoulder last Friday, not really knowing what I was going to do with it. But there it was, sitting in the case and somehow it found its way into my cart.  It happens.  I brought it home and did a little bit of research – I knew I wanted something different than my same old pork carnita standby because honestly, I think the whole DamFam is suffering from taco overload.  Again, it happens.  My fault completely, too.  I decided on Asian flavors, and hit it out of the park with this meal.

This versatile pork was great over jasmati rice, but would also be awesome over mashed potatoes.  Or ramen noodles.  OR (and I love this idea) … turn it into a filling for lettuce wraps by serving it with a pile of butter lettuce leaves, rice, bean sprouts, scallions, cilantro, and Sriracha sauce.  The pork shoulder I used was about four pounds so I doubled everything except the chili-garlic; also, the original recipe calls for cutting the pork into chunks before putting it in the slow cooker — if you do that, then obviously you won’t have to shred it at the end like I did. : )

SLOW COOKER SWEET & SPICY ASIAN PORK SHOULDER
SERVES: 4
SOURCE:  adapted from this recipe on realsimple.com

1/2 c. soy sauce
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 to 2 T chili garlic sauce (find this in the Asian aisle)
1 T. finely minced fresh ginger
kosher salt and black pepper
2 1/2 lbs. pork shoulder

1 T. cornstarch
1 T. water or chicken broth

Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish
3 or 4 scallions, chopped for optional garnish

Hot cooked rice, ramen noodles, or mashed potatoes for serving

In a 4 – 6 quart slow cooker, combine the soy sauce, sugar, chili-garlic sauce, ginger, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper.  Add the pork and turn to coat.  Cook, covered, until pork is tender, on high for 4 to 5 hours or on low for 7 to 8 hours, turning pork from time to time.  Transfer pork to a work surface and allow to cool slightly before pulling it into chunks or strips with two forks.  The meat should fall apart easily.  Set aside.

Pour sauce through a strainer and into a medium saucepan set over medium high heat.  Bring sauce up to a simmer.  In a small bowl, stir together cornstarch and broth or water until cornstarch dissolves; whisk mixture into simmering sauce and stir until sauce begins to thicken slightly, about 5 minutes.  Put shredded pork back in slow cooker, pour sauce over and stir to combine.  Set cooker to warm; replace lid and continue to heat until pork is hot throughout, 10 to 15 minutes.  Garnish with chopped cilantro and scallions.  Serve over hot cooked rice or mashed potatoes.

Featured, Fresh, Frugal, Fabulous, News | October 30th, 2012