Come home to the smells of pork slow-cooked in hard cider all day – I promise you won’t regret it ;)!
This month’s Recipe Redux Challenge is to “Beat the Heat” using slow cookers, instant pots, or pressure cookers:
Whether you go slow or fast, just don’t turn on the oven. Show us how to keep the kitchen cool by using one of these appliances: Slow cooker, instant pot, pressure cooker.
Since we’ve been in Denver, I don’t think there’s been a day below 90 degrees, and the heat doesn’t look like it’s letting up anytime soon. Combine that with all the sunlight our apartment gets (I’m not complaining – all the natural light as made taking pictures SO much easier!) and you have yourself a kitchen just begging not to be made even warmer by turning on the oven. Slow cooker meals are so smart for this exact reason, yet I feel like I tend to think of slow cooker meals as wintertime meals – soups, chilies, stews. Well, the Recipe Redux group is here to show you that there are many summer-inspired recipes that can be made using a slow cooker (or instant pot or pressure cooker).
One of the things we really tried to do before moving was to get rid of as much food and alcohol as possible. Yet despite having a going away party (aka empty out our bar party), we ended up with more alcohol than we started with. . .I guess we have very generous friends 😉 So for those lucky friends who stayed until the very end of the night, we ended up sending most of the leftover cans and bottles home with them. Except for the Downeast Cider. (Note, this post is in no way affiliated with Down East Cider, the can I used was bought by our friends and I’ve been a huge fan for several years).
If you live on the east coast you have to try Downeast Cider if you haven’t already! Orginally from Maine, Downeast is now a local Boston cider company that turns out delicious but not-too-sweet ciders. Their original blend, which I used for this recipe, contains just two ingredients: cold pressed apple cider and brewer’s yeast. When you take a sip it really tastes just like apples. So if you are making this recipe and don’t have access to Downeast Cider, I just recommend that you go with a brand that doesn’t have a bunch of added sugar.
There’s nothing groundbreaking about this recipe: simply season the pork, brown it on all four sides in a hot pan, then let cook in the slow cooker for 7 hours. To serve, the sky’s the limit! You can go the traditional route by serving it as a sandwich with slaw and BBQ sauce (an apple BBQ sauce would be PERFECT) or for a lighter meal simply serve it over a bed of greens. My favorite way to eat pulled pork is over a microwaved sweet potato, but when I made this most recently I had a bunch of corn tortillas to use up so we made tacos out of them.
A note on buying the pork. I clearly do not buy pork often as I was at first bummed when I didn’t see “pork shoulder” at the meat counter. Luckily the guy working saw my confusion and came to the rescue by explaining that “pork shoulder” is the same thing as “pork butt” (sometimes even called a “Boston Butt”), which they did have available. While not as pretty of a name, it sure tastes delicious 😉
So here’s a toast to keeping it cool this summer with healthy slow cooker recipes!
Hard Cider Pulled Pork
- 2 ½ lb pork shoulder
- 1 Tablespoon paprika
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 Tablespoon canola oil
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 12- oz can hard apple cider my favorite is Downeast Cider
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- To start, combine paprika, pepper, and salt in a small bowl (I used a measuring cup). Rub spice mixture over pork shoulder (you may have leftover spice mixture).
- Heat large skillet over medium-high heat with 1 tablespoon of canola oil. One oil is hot, add pork shoulder and brown each side (about 1-2 minutes per side).
- Carefully remove pork from skillet and place in a slow cooker. Add can of hard apple cider, apple cider vinegar, and minced garlic. Option to add an extra pinch of salt and pepper.
- Cook on low for 7 hours.
- Once cooked, remove pork from slow cooker and shred with a fork. Place shredded pork back into slow cooker with the sauce then serve. Option to serve as tacos, sandwiches, over a sweet potato, or on top of a salad.