After culinary school I shunned my slow cooker. Tsk, tsk! I’d never use such an appliance again. After all, real chef’s didn’t use a slow cooker. Right?
Then I started my business, had two small children, a husband, a dog and a very complete and busy life. After a few attempts of Dutch oven cooking after a busy work day, which made dinner so late my kids were asleep by the time it was done, I decided I should give the slow cooker another shot.
I adored my Dutch oven and braised dishes were my favorite things to prepare in those days. So why not apply the same browning technique when using the slow cooker? Of course it worked beautifully and I finally resolved my love hate relationship with my slow cooker.
Browning is certainly not a new technique and I’m sure some brilliant chef somewhere had discussed the browning technique prior to using a slow cooker. However, fresh out of culinary classes, I most likely had my head buried in the culinary sand and wasn’t listening. Which of course made me “late to that party”. When I finally arrived, slow cooker meals made an appearance on my dinner table once again. Which made my family so happy they could eat dinner prior to midnight.
The key to a succulent and delicious slow cooked meal is browning your meat prior to cooking. This technique applies to most methods of cooking meat, but, it is extremely important when slow cooking or braising. Browning the meat creates flavor, richens the dish and gives the slow cooked meal more complexity and intensifies flavor.
This is one of the Bennett Crew’s favorite slow cooker meals. It’s great for the family and works just as well for casual dinner guests. Serve with warmed corn tortillas, shredded pepper jack cheese or Cotija, sliced avocado or guacamole, your favorite salsa and a quick Mexican slaw.
Slow Cooked Mexican Pork with Cilantro Slaw
1 3-4 lb boneless (optional bone in) Pork butt (shoulder) cut into 4 large pieces
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika (not sweet)
1 teaspoon Coriander (either seeds crushed or ground)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons cracked black pepper
1 28oz can good quality diced tomatoes or 3 large summer tomatoes, chopped
6 gloves garlic crushed and lightly chopped
1 white onion sliced
A small handful of fresh cilantro
For Cucmber Cilantro Slaw:
1 small head cabbage thin sliced ( I like using Napa cabbage but regular cabbage is fine)
1/3 C chopped cilantro
1/2 cup diced fresh cucumber (if you don’t like cucumber feel free to omit, but it does taste refreshing with the spicy pork)
1 small lime juiced
1/4 cup mayonaise
1 tsp sugar
Dash of Sriracha or hot sauce
Salt to taste
Mix together the mayo, lime juice, sugar, dash of hot sauce and season to taste with salt and pepper. Just before serving, toss the dressing with the cabbage, cilantro and cucumber and serve with the tacos.
Warm corn tortillas
Mexican style fresh cheese, Cotija or Pepper Jack Cheese
Avocado slices (this is great during the summer months)
Mix together the chili powder, cumin, coriander, smoked paprika, salt and pepper. Heat a little oil in a Dutch oven or heavy skillet on medium high and brown your pieces of pork. Once the pork is browned transfer to a slow cooker and rub with spice mixture.
Next add the crushed garlic, sliced onions, chopped tomatoes, and fresh sprigs of cilantro. Set your slow cooker on low for 7-8 hours.
Once the pork is done, warm your corn tortillas either in the oven or stove top. Mix the slaw together just before serving. Shred the pork and place on a platter and serve with the tortillas, slaw, and condiments for a delicious fiesta.