Too Much Pork for Just One Fork*

To maintain balance in the universe since I posted a tofu-and-bok-choy recipe last, I’m posting a recipe for a big old hunk-o-meat this time.

It probably seems odd to eat vegan sour cream with pork. It makes a little more sense when you consider that it’s the “can’t eat dairy” reason rather than the “don’t eat animal products” reason that keeps me from the real stuff.

This is the third time we’ve made this recipe, but the first time I’ve tried it with the cilantro sour cream. Man, that cilantro sour cream is good. We use whatever pork roast we get from our local meat CSA (through Christiansen Farm). This time it was a fresh ham roast (as you recall from my previous fresh ham post, a fresh ham is uncured and so tastes just like pork rather than like ham as we usually think of it).

We serve this with rice and/or gluten-free corn muffins to sop up the super-yummy sauce. Also, I use fewer jalapeños and less chipotles in adobo than the recipe calls for, to make this more palatable to the kiddos. If you aren’t cooking for kiddos (or if your kids are big on spicy food), use the full amounts.

Slow-Cooker Pork Pot Roast with Sweet Potatoes, Orange, and Cilantro

Reprinted from The Best Slow & Easy Recipes from Cook’s Illustrated (America’s Test Kitchen, 2008) www.cooksillustrated.com

Ingredients:

3 T vegetable oil

2 medium onions, minced

3 jalapeño chiles, seeds and ribs removed, chiles minced (I use 2 chiles with seeds and ribs removed. For more heat, use all three and leave in the seeds and ribs)

6 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed (about 2 T)

1 T ground cumin

1 T tomato paste

1 t dried oregano

Salt

1 c low-sodium chicken broth

1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes

1 c orange juice

2 T soy sauce

2 T Minute tapioca (I use tapioca starch)

1 strip zest from 1 orange

2 t minced chipotle in adobo sauce (I use 1 t)

2 (2.5- to 3-pound) boneless pork picnic shoulder roasts, trimmed and tied (I don’t trim or tie, and I use whatever pork roast we get from the CSA. They’re usually 2-3 pounds, and I only use one)

Ground black pepper

1.5 pounds sweet potatoes (about 2 medium), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

6 T minced fresh cilantro leaves (I only use the 2 T called for in the cilantro sour cream. I don’t add cilantro to the rest of the sauce.)

1 c sour cream (Tofutti vegan sour cream if you’re like me and can’t handle dairy)

1 T juice from 1 lime

1. Heat 2 T of the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onions, jalapenos, garlic, cumin, tomato paste, oregano, and 1/4 t salt and cook, stirring often, until the onions are softened and lightly browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in the chicken broth, scraping up any browned bits.

2. Transfer the mixture to the slow cooker and stir in the tomatoes, orange juice, soy sauce, tapioca, orange zest, and chipotle until evenly combined. Season the pork with salt and pepper and nestle it in the slow cooker (I don’t bother seasoning it).

3. Toss the sweet potatoes with the remaining 1 T oil and season with salt and pepper. Following the illustrations on page 206 (please buy the book to see this illustration. In fact, this is a great book to have on-hand anyway. I really love the recipes in it. Most are very easy to modify to be GF/CF, too), wrap the sweet potatoes in a foil packet. Set the vegetable packet on top of the pork in the slow cooker. Cover and cook, either on low or high, until the pork is tender, 9 to 11 hours on low or 5 to 7 hours on high.

4. (I don’t do any of this step except opening the sweet potato packet, stirring the potatoes in with the pork, then adding a touch of salt and pepper. I should probably scoop off the fat like they say, but I don’t.) Transfer the sweet potato packet to a plate. Transfer the pork roasts to a cutting board, tent loosely with foil, and let rest for 20 minutes. Let the cooking liquid settle for 5 minutes, then gently tilt the slow cooker and remove as much fat as possible from the surface using a large spoon. Carefully open the foil packet (watch for steam), then stir the sweet potatoes along with any accumulated juices into the stew. Stir in 1/4 cup of the cilantro and season with salt and pepper to taste.

5. Mix the sour cream, the remaining 2 T cilantro, and lime juice together in a small bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Untie the roasts (if you’ve tied them) and slice them into 1/2-inch thick pieces. Arrange the pork and potatoes on a serving platter and pour 1 cup of the sauce over the top. Serve, passing the remaining sauce and cilantro sour cream separately. (Or do like I do and cut the pork into rough hunks, then put a hunk on your plate with some potatoes, cilantro sour cream, and lots of sauce (and the rice you cooked separately), letting the other adults eating serve themselves from the slow cooker. Then spill the sauce as you bring your plate to the table because you should have taken your husband’s advice and used a bowl if you were going to get that much sauce. Cut up some pork and potatoes for the kids and then chow down, soaking up the sauce with your corn muffins and then licking your fingers.)

*The title of this post is a reference to the album of the same name by Southern Culture on the Skids. I saw them in concert at Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro, North Carolina, where they threw chicken wings and banana pudding into the audience. Then, in the closest thing I’ve experienced to a celebrity sighting, I later saw the band at Henry’s Bistro (also in Carrboro and where I discovered gin-and-tonics).

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