The only thing better than finding yourself with a little extra time is using it well. I’d like to pat myself on the back and commend my own organization for the extra hours I’ve enjoyed the last week or so, but I know it’s more a happy coincidence of calendar and good fortune than proficiency on my part. That realization, that luck not skill brought about this timely gift, has made me want to make the most of it. After all, the clock is ticking.
One of the reasons I turned to cooking years ago was that I loved having something creative in my life every day. But, as with anything that bears the burden of also being work, what use to be done purely as fun now has a purpose that makes it feel, well, like work.
So when I found my to-do list checked off, but time still left on the clock, I did not preheat the oven. My kitchen seemed to understand my need to find creative inspiration elsewhere. In what has to be the ultimate reward for any cook, I found my pantry and freezer stocked with the ingredients to make meals for at least a week.
While meatloaf defrosted, I prepared the garden and planted spring seeds. Spaghetti sauce, made as part of a large batch several weeks ago, meant that I spent Wednesday afternoon blowing out eggs and helping my daughter decorate them for an Easter egg tree. And on Thursday, after months of neglect, I pulled out my sewing machine while a pork shoulder, covered with a puree of New Mexican chiles, garlic, and onion, slow-cooked its way to mouthwatering perfection for a satisfying taco dinner.
There are many good reasons to make this recipe for Mexican-Inspired Slow Cooker Pulled Pork. Perhaps the best reason being that it’s delicious and perfect for a family meal or a party with friends (just add margaritas). But I’m sharing it with you today in the hopes that it gives you the gift of time. Happy cooking!
Mexican-Inspired Slow Cooker Pulled Pork for Tacos – Printer Friendly Recipe
If serving a crowd, this recipe may be one of the easiest ways to do it. Making the chili sauce is the most time-intensive part of the recipe, but it can be done a day or two in advance to make day-of prep even easier.
1 (4 ½ to 5 lb) bone-in Pork Shoulder or Boston Butt
2 ounces New Mexico dried chilies
3 Arbol chilies (optional, but necessary if you like heat!)
½ medium yellow onion
6 garlic cloves, papery skin left on
½ cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon dried oregano (use Mexican oregano if possible)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
For serving: Corn or flour tortillas, finely chopped red onion, diced avocado, sliced fresh jalapeno, sliced radishes, fresh cilantro leaves, and lime wedges
Special equipment: blender, slow cooker
Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Using a pair of scissors remove the stems from the New Mexico dried chilies and discard the seeds and veins. If using the Arbol chilies, prepare them in the same way.
Rinse the chilies under cold water and then drain. Heat a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Toast the prepared chilies in the skillet pressing the chilies down with a metal spatula for about 20 seconds on each side. Remove the chilies from the heat and place them in a heat-safe bowl. Pour the boiling water over the chilies and let them soak for fifteen minutes. Drain the chilies and place them in a blender.
Using the same skillet that you used for the chilies, add the onion half and the garlic cloves with their peels. Cook, turning the garlic cloves and onion every couple of minutes, for about 10 minutes until they blacken in spots and begin to soften. Let cool. Peel and discard the skin from the garlic cloves and place them in the blender. Roughly chop the onion and place it in the blender as well. Add the fresh orange juice, dark brown sugar, oregano, cumin, salt and pepper to the blender and puree to a thick sauce.
Place the pork in the slow cooker and cover with the chili sauce. Cover the slow cooker and cook on low for about 8 to 9 hours or until the pork is very tender and shreds easily. Once cooked, remove the pork from the slow cooker and place on a cutting board. Allow the pork to rest for about 20 minutes before shredding or chopping the pork using a fork or large cleaver.
Serve the Mexican-inspired pulled pork with your favorite accompaniments (see suggestions above) and enjoy!