SLOW AND TASTY FOR THE WIN By Karen Tedesco
Welcome to the ultimate one-pot meal
My grandmother was a true believer in the Crock-Pot. She was a working woman in a time and place when it was far more traditional to be a “happy homemaker” – i.e., the keeper of a perfectly tended home and polite children.
Like many women of the working class in the post-World War II era, she was employed on an assembly line in a manufacturing plant. She did her best to make ends meet at the same time she was raising three kids.
After the original electric slow cooker hit the marketplace in the 1950s, my grandma used hers to make family favorites like Portuguese stew with chorizo, and stuffed cabbage dumplings in tomato sauce. The food cooked while she was at work, filling our multi-family home with delicious aromas.
These are the dishes that linger in my family’s memory – tasty food made with economy and no fuss.
Fast-forwarding to the present day, slow-cooker recipes are no less of a workhorse for time-strapped families. We all crave the comfort and convenience of coming home to the smell of dinner cooking.
This recipe delivers all that magic. It’s a savory dish based on fall-apart-tender pork shoulder, potatoes and tomatoes, an Italian-style stew that provides a meal in one pot.
In a broader sense, it defines what I see as the magic of a slow cooker: a device that transforms a handful of ingredients into a meal with layers of flavor, all with minimal effort.
I’ve recently jumped back on the slow-cooker train. The last time my family moved from one state to another, I had to purge most of the kitchen, and my old Crock-Pot didn’t make the journey.
After several years of relying on heavy-duty Dutch ovens to oven-braise beef short ribs, pork shoulder and other hearty cuts of meat, I finally broke down and bought an electric “multi-cooker,” which is a slow cooker and pressure cooker in one.
It proved to be a game changer. This baby does all the heavy lifting without heating up the house or requiring any tending-to whatsoever.
Like all hearty braised dishes, this pork tastes even better when reheated a day or two later.
Serve with a simple salad on the side – and don’t forget crusty bread to soak up those tasty juices.
Karen Tedesco is a recipe developer, food stylist and photographer living in Maplewood. For seasonal recipes and more, visit her website, FamilystyleFood.com.
Slow-Cooker Pork and Potatoes with Rosemary
Serves 4 – 6
3-1/2 pounds pork shoulder roast, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 3 equal pieces
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
1/2 teaspoon crushed red chili
5 or 6 garlic cloves, smashed and roughly chopped
1 onion, peeled and sliced
1-1/2 pounds yellow potatoes, cut into 1-1/2-inch chunks
1 15-ounce can chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Season the pork evenly with the salt.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat on the stovetop until hot. Add the oil and swirl to coat the pan. Sear the pork in two batches until browned on all sides. Transfer the browned meat to your slow cooker.
Add all the remaining ingredients except the parsley, nestling the potatoes in and around the pork. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours, or on high for 4 hours.
Transfer the pork to a cutting board and slice into bite-size chunks. Add to a serving dish with the potatoes and vegetables.
Skim the fat from the juices in the pot with a spoon or fat separator and pour the juices over the pork. Sprinkle with the rosemary and parsley and serve.