I have something of a love-hate relationship with pork. While I love just about any cured pork product you can name - pancetta, bacon, salame, prosciutto - I don't care for pork chops, pork loin, or the ilk - and I only like pork ribs or pork shoulder (usually) smoked and smothered in barbeque sauce. However, at a relatively recent lunch, I tried a bite of my boyfriend's shredded pork, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that I liked it. So, after several attempts and frantic searches for ingredients and substitutions, here is my version - it turns out juicy, tender and extremely flavorful. For those of you who have ever eaten at a Chipotle burrito restaurant, this is very similar to their carnitas.
Slow Cooker Shredded Pork
1 pork shoulder, at least 3 pounds and small enough to fit in your slow cooker
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 onions, roughly chopped
1 head garlic, cloves separated, crushed and peeled
2-3 bay leaves
1-2 tablespoons dried thyme leaves
1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/2 cup gin
1. Trim the pork shoulder of fat and season with salt and pepper. Heat a large skillet with enough olive oil to just cover the bottom, and sear the pork on all sides. Transfer to the slow cooker.
2. Scatter the onions, garlic, bay, thyme, peppercorns, and sea salt around the pork shoulder. Pour over the gin, and then add enough water to cover the pork. Cook on low for 8-10 hours.
3. Remove the pork from the slow cooker to a cutting board. Using two forks, shred the meat. This should be very easy. Transfer to a serving dish and ladle 1-2 cups of the liquid from the slow cooker over the pork. This will keep it moist and add more flavor.
- I've done this with fresh thyme as well, and found that it was just too much trouble to pull the leaves off an entire bunch of thyme. It's easier just to use dried, and the flavor difference is almost non-existent.
- The gin is a substitute for juniper berries, which I couldn't find. If you have juniper berries, you could use them - 1-2 teaspoons should be plenty.
Currently, I'm reading... Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott