Our readers at Natural Home & Garden are always asking us for tips for how to eat healthy whole food on a tight schedule and a tight budget. In our January/February issue, our Food & Garden editor, Tabitha Alterman, and contributor Tim Nauman obliged those frequent requests with this fabulous recipe for slow-cooker pulled pork. Cooking meat slowly over low heat allows it to gain rich flavors and a tender texture, transforming less-expensive cuts of meat into mouthwatering dishes. Choosing less-expensive cuts can help you afford healthy, locally raised, grass-fed pastured pork rather than unhealthily and inhumanely produced commercial pork (if you’re looking for sources of healthy, locally raised meat, try localharvest.org). Make this slow-cooker pork on Sunday, and you can turn it into four quick and easy meals to eat throughout the week when you’re low on prep time. For your convenience, we’ve also put together a shopping list at the end that includes every ingredient you’ll need for these five delicious recipes. Enjoy!
Cook It Once: Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Recipe
10-pound Boston butt or pork shoulder (with bone in for enhanced flavor)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Paprika (sweet, smoked or a mix)
Chili powder (mild, medium or hot)
6 to 8 red and white onions, peeled and quartered
10 cloves garlic, or to taste, peeled and smashed but left whole
Approximately 1 cup apple cider vinegar (or enough to create a 1/2-inch layer in the bottom of your slow cooker)
1. Thoroughly coat meat with salt, pepper, paprika and chili powder.
2. Line crock bottom with onions, garlic and vinegar, then place meat over it.
3. Set the cooker to the lowest, longest setting. The meat is finished when it pulls away easily with just a fork, or when the bone slips out with little effort. Depending on your slow cooker, this will take 6 to 10 hours.
4. Drain and store most of the grease before storing meat in refrigerator.
Eat It Once: Pulled Pork Tacos
1 head Napa cabbage, thinly shredded
1 head red cabbage, thinly shredded
4 carrots, grated
Approximately 12 tortillas or hard taco shells (Get a recipe for homemade whole grain tortillas.)
About 2 pounds pulled pork mixed with some of the onions
Fresh cilantro (for garnish)
2 to 3 scallions, white and green parts, chopped
Sour cream, salsa, avocado slices and lime wedges (optional)
1. Combine shredded cabbage and carrots, and divide mixture into thirds. Refrigerate 2/3 of mixture for subsequent recipes.
2. Warm shells in a 250-degree oven.
3. Fill each shell with onion from the bottom of the slow cooker and a scoop of pulled pork. Top with shredded cabbage mix, cilantro and scallions and garnish with sour cream, salsa, avocado and a squeeze of lime.
Eat It Twice: Tamari Brown Rice With Crispy Pork and Asian Slaw
To make slaw:
6 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 tablespoons each peanut and sesame oils
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons brown or cane sugar
2 tablespoons fresh ginger root, peeled
3 cloves fresh garlic, peeled
Remaining cabbage and carrot mixture from previous recipe
3 scallions, white and green parts, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
1/2 cup roasted peanuts
About 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
1. Blend all ingredients except cabbage mixture, scallions, cilantro, peanuts and sesame seeds in food processor, creating smooth peanut sauce. Refrigerate half of peanut sauce for subsequent potsticker recipe.
2. Pour other half over cabbage mixture, then stir in scallions, cilantro, peanuts and sesame seeds to create Asian slaw.
3. Refrigerate about half of the slaw for subsequent recipes.
To make the rice:
1 tablespoon peanut oil
2 to 4 cloves garlic, diced
1/4 cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1 cup brown rice
2 1/2 cups stock (mushroom, chicken or vegetable) or water
Tamari soy sauce
1. Heat oil over medium-high heat in a deep saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Sauté garlic and mushrooms in oil for a couple minutes, then toss rice in hot oil for about a minute, until it releases a toasty aroma.
2. Pour in stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and allow to cook undisturbed for as long as package directions indicate. (Brown rice cooking times range from 40 minutes to an hour.)
3. Remove from heat and let stand covered for 5 to 10 minutes.
4. Add a few dashes of tamari and fluff with a fork.
To crisp the pork:
1 tablespoon peanut or sesame oil
About 2 pounds pulled pork, mixed with some of the onions
1. Heat oil in a wide sauté pan over high heat. Add pork and let it crisp up on one side for 2 to 3 minutes before turning or stirring.
2. After a couple minutes, toss pork around in pan until all of it is crispy on the outside.
Toasted sesame seeds
Sriracha hot chili sauce (optional)
Add a scoop of mushroom rice to each plate, then top with a scoop of crispy pork and a sprinkling of sesame seeds. Serve with Sriracha sauce and Asian slaw on the side.
Eat It Three Times: Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Sandwiches
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 to 2 tablespoons Sriracha hot chili sauce
2 tablespoons brown or cane sugar
About 2 pounds pulled pork
About 2/3 of the remaining Asian slaw
About 4 buns (Get a recipe for homemade whole-grain hamburger buns.)
1. Combine vinegar, Sriracha and sugar in a saucepan to make vinegar sauce. Simmer over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Keep warm.
2. Warm buns in oven or toaster oven. Pour a couple tablespoons of vinegar sauce over pork, and heat it in the oven or microwave. Place a scoop of pork on each bun, plus a small spoonful of the slaw. Serve with extra vinegar sauce on the side.
Eat It Four Times! Pork Potstickers With Peanut Sauce Recipe
Remaining pulled pork and slaw
2 to 3 scallions, chopped
2 to 4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 to 2 teaspoons Sriracha hot sauce
1 to 2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 package wonton wrappers
About 1 cup of stock (mushroom, chicken or vegetable)
Peanut sauce reserved from Asian slaw recipe
Sriracha hot chili sauce (optional)
1. Finely chop pork and slaw in roughly equal proportions. Mix in scallions, Worcestershire, Sriracha and cornstarch.
2. Cover wonton wrappers and filled wontons with a damp towel while you work. For each dumpling, wet wrapper edges with water. Place a teaspoon of filling in center, then fold and crimp edges.
3. Heat a sauté pan to high then add a thin coating of oil. Add potstickers in batches so they do not touch. Cook for 2 minutes without disturbing, then pour in 1/2 cup stock, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about 5 more minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove postickers to a serving platter. Put peanut sauce in a bowl or ramekin and add a dollop of Sriracha before serving.
Meal Planning Grocery List
Use this grocery list to make the five recipes in this article.
• 10-pound Boston butt or pork shoulder (with bone in)
• 6 to 8 red and white onions
• 2 heads garlic
• 2-inch piece fresh ginger root
• 1 head Napa cabbage
• 1 head red cabbage
• 4 carrots
• 1 bunch each scallions and cilantro
• 1/4 cup shiitake mushrooms, fresh or frozen
• Avocado (when in season; optional)
• Lime (optional)
• Kosher salt and black pepper
• Paprika (sweet, smoked or a mix)
• Chili powder
• Toasted sesame seeds (or dry-toast them yourself)
• Cider and rice vinegars
• Peanut and sesame oils
• Tamari soy sauce
• Sriracha hot chili sauce (sometimes in Asian foods section)
• Worcestershire sauce
• Brown or cane sugar
• Peanut butter
• 1 cup brown rice
• About 3 cups mushroom, chicken or vegetable stock
• About 4 whole wheat hamburger buns (or make your own buns)
• Roasted peanuts
• Sour cream (optional)
• About 12 tortillas or taco shells
• Wonton wrappers