There is something idyllic about slow cooking, as though where low heat/high reward is the way food was meant to be prepared. Take your time. Enjoy the aromas. Build anticipation for the meal to come, and the payoff is that much greater.
But I lived in New York City for 14 years, where your foot is rarely off of the gas pedal. Slow motion is a rare indulgence. In fact, I can sum up the essential NYC experience in a few simple words: “Come. ON! Will you MOVE already?” It can be an atmosphere that isn’t really conducive to kicking off your shoes, reclining with fingers interlaced behind your head, and enjoying long contented sighs. So if you can grab one of those moments, even figuratively through a meal, then do it!
With young kids, the crockpot is like a day off: one less thing to think about as you focus on not stepping onto a stray LEGO with bare feet.
Pork shoulder was made for this (or, maybe more appropriately, slow cooking was made for the pork shoulder). It’s an inexpensive cut of meat that pays big dividends when you can give it the love it needs. This preparation is a simplified version of a recipe I found on Food Network.
For a family two adults and two toddlers, even a half pork shoulder goes a long way, and makes fantastic leftovers.
- 3 pounds pork shoulder
- Five-spice powder
- Kosher salt
- 3 cups of chicken stock
- 1 cup dark soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons of sesame oil
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- ½ head of garlic, smashed
- 2-inch piece of ginger, thinly sliced
- Remove the skin side from your pork (in a different context, that sounds kinda awful), rinse and pat dry. Rub the pork on all sides with the 5-spice and kosher salt and set aside.
- Whisk the stock, soy sauce, sesame oil, and pepper flakes together in the slow cooker. Add the brown sugar and stir the mixture until the sugar is dissolved. Add the garlic and ginger. Lower the pork shoulder into the liquid.
- Cook on High heat for 4 hours, turn the slow cooker to Low, and cook for 2 more hours. Transfer the pork to a platter and let it settle down for ten minutes or so.
- To shred: claw at the meat with two forks, and serve over rice or noodles.
- Strain the cooking liquid into a saucepan, bring to a boil, reduce and spoon over the pork.