Sunday, 20 April 2014

Mexican pull-apart pork

This last week has been a traumatic one, in the run up to Easter. Our lovely au pair, Roberta, left us to return home to Italy on Friday. We only had one slow-cooked meal during the week, on Monday. Unfortunately, that was also the day that Mr Teenager broke Roberta's glasses with the basketball, completely by accident. But poor Roberta was devastated and refused to eat anything. Ms Fussy Eater invited herself to her friend's house for dinner. So, in the end, it was just three of us for dinner. But it was a good one!

I had a pork fillet in the freezer, so we decided to try this mexican pull-apart pork from the Australian Women's Weekly Easy Slow Cooking book. It involved just a little bit of preparation on Sunday evening, and then was left to cook all day on Monday. As per the recipe, we served it with some flour tortillas and sour cream, adding some salad and grated cheese. It could also be served with rice, or even mashed potato.

mexican pulled-apart porkPreparation

On Sunday evening, we put into the crock pot: 2 red peppers, sliced; 2 onions, sliced; a jar of tomato-based pasta sauce (the recipe called for a jar of salsa, but this was the closest thing we had); one cup of barbecue sauce; 4 cloves of garlic, crushed; 3 tsp ground cumin; 2 tsp cayenne pepper and 1tsp dried oregano. Then I added the whole pork fillet, making sure it was coated in the sauce. The crock pot was left, covered, in the fridge overnight.

Next morning, I just set the slow cooked on low and left it for about 9 or 10 hours until I came home from work. I switched it to the keep warm setting while I prepared the salad, cheese and sour cream.

I carefully lifted the pork fillet out of the pot onto a carving dish and used two forks to pull it apart into shreds. The meat went back into the sauce and the whole thing was stirred.

The Result

We put the crock pot in the centre of the table. Each of us took a flour tortilla and loaded it with meat, sauce, sour cream, salad and grated cheese. Then we rolled it up and attempted to eat the hot, spicey, delicious wrap with our hands. Some of the sauce dripped out, but was easily scraped up using spoons. We each had two of these, which was plenty.

There was lots of meat and sauce leftover, and the dish could easily have served all five of us. There were no complaints from the two men, one of whom brought a helping to work next day for lunch. Mr Teenager was on his Easter break from school, so he finished off another helping of it the next day.

The Verdict

I asked Mr Teenager what he thought of the dinner. His response - Can we have it again tomorrow? This was definitely a success. I think that Ms Fussy Eater would even go for it, if she didn't get too much sauce, and didn't have to put anything other than the pork into a tortilla.

It was so easy to prepare, I think this recipe will become one of our regulars.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Italian pork and pepper ragú

Italian pork and pepper raguLast time we were grocery shopping I picked up a couple of pork loins on special offer. They tend to be quite versatile: you can cook them whole in the oven or in a pan, or cut them into rounds for a stir fry, or into smaller pieces for a casserole. We had a packet of skinny sausages, which can be difficult to find. We intended to eat them as a treat on Mothers' Day, but Ms Fussy Eater asked if Hubby would make American style breakfast pancakes instead.

So, when I found a recipe in my new Australian Women's Weekly easy slow cooking recipe book for Italian pork and capsicum ragú, I thought I'd try modifying the ingredients slightly to suit what we already had available.

We prepared the ingredients on Sunday night. It didn't take too long: a bit of chopping and some browning of meat. The photo in the book looked pretty good and I was confident we were in for a hearty meal the next day.


Hubby trimmed one of the pork loins of all visible fat (he's very good at this - much more patient than I am). The recipe called for pork belly. We then browned the pork in a pan, with a little spray oil, in batches, and put it all into the bottom of the crock pot. Next, we browned the sausages in the same pan, and added these to the pork.

To the meat we added: 2 red peppers, sliced; 2 onions, chopped; a can of mixed beans; 6 cloves of garlic, crushed; a can of chopped tomatoes; a chicken stock cube; 1tbsp tomatoe puree; 1tsp dried oregano; 1/2 tsp chilli flakes. This was all mixed together and left in the fridge, covered, overnight.

Next morning the crock pot went on, at the low setting, before I left for work. By the time I came home, about 10 hours later, it was ready. We served it with some wholegrain pasta.

The Result

The ragú had a nice, rich tomato sauce. It wasn't too think, since I didn't add the water for the stock - just the stock cube. It was mildly spicey, from the crushed chilli, but not so much that anybody would notice. It just had a nice bit of heat - perfect for a wet Winter's day (which it was not, on Monday). The pork was perfectly cooked; tender, without falling apart. Likewise, the sausages were still intact. A very nice dish, which could have been served with rice or mashed potato, instead of the pasta.

This recipe made plenty. It easily fed 4 adults plus Ms Fussy Eater, with another two portions left over.

The Verdict

The teenager appeared to enjoy his meal, though he left behind the onions on his plate. Ms Fussy Eater was less than enthusiastic, although she did finish off her sausages. Both Hubby and I enjoyed the dish very much. It's probably more of a Winter dish, than a surprisingly sunny Spring evening.