Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas

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Here's what happened to the rest of last week's 10-lb pork roast: slow cooker pork carnitas.

Just like before, this was incredibly easy. After 3 hours, the pork was cooked but still holding together. After 4 hours, it was tender enough to shred. I substituted lemon juice for orange juice, because I had an extra lemon on hand. I tried it without reducing the braising liquid, and it was effectively tasteless. Reduce the liquid to add the lovely flavor back.

Braised pork shoulder with onions and jalapenos in slow
cooker

This worked well as soft tacos for almost a week. A bit of lettuce, cheese, and sour cream turned it into something reminiscent of Taco Bell, if they'd ever serve pork (and I mean that in the best possible way).

All together, my experiment with a pork shoulder turned out great, and I'm glad to have another thing to look out for when I'm perusing the local grocery store.

Pork Carnitas on a soft taco shell with lettuce, cheese, and sour
cream

Honey Balsamic Pulled Pork

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I've been eating way too much chicken lately. It's what I know, and it's not scary. But, experimenting is the entire point of this blog! So, as an experiment, I bought a 10 lb. pork shoulder! Because the shoulder does a lot of work, it's good to cook it long and slow to tenderize it. Enter this recipe for Honey Balsamic Pulled Pork by Cooking Classy.

I cut my roast in half and tossed it in the slow cooker. Since I had more roast than the recipe called for, I had to increase the chicken broth and spices for the braise. During my last experiment with balsamic vinegar, I realized balsamic vinegar is quite powerful, so I only used half of what the sauce called for. That was absolutely the right decision: The sauce turned out fruity and sweet, but not overbearing.

This recipe was great for a lazy Sunday: I started the pork, got groceries, went shopping, relaxed a bit, then had enough time to make the sauce and some mashed potatoes for a nice dinner. And, I still have half a pork roast to consider... Maybe some tacos carnitas?

Honey Balsamic Pulled Pork sandwiches with cole slaw and mashed
potatoes

Shrimp and Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce

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Standing in stark contrast to the last pasta dish I made, there's this one. The blog I got this from, The Pioneer Woman, calls it Penne a la Betsy. In my mundane way, I'm calling it Shrimp and Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce.

This wonderful, rich, creamy dish comes together quickly and, except for the shrimp, I had everything I needed: A small can of tomato sauce from the Indian-spiced Stew a few weeks ago, some pasta I collected (bow ties are cool), and some cream. I've started keeping the ultra-pasteurized cream in my fridge for emergency scone baking and sauces. It keeps for a month, and it's extremely useful.

I didn't have any white wine left (thank the chicken for that one), so I just used a bit of water. This turned out a bit thin, so I let it simmer to thicken it back up. A bit of chicken stock would help fill in some flavor gaps, I suspect, if you don't have wine. Personally, I filled those gaps with some parmesan and red pepper.

All in all, this one was very good. I gorged myself stupid, have plenty of leftovers, and now, fat and happy, I'm telling you about it.

PS: The leftovers went well mixing the peas right in there.

Shrimp and Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce and some peas

Buffalo Chicken Bowls

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When I started this blog, my refrigerator was practically empty. Now, I've got half-used bottles of dozens of condiments, all waiting for their return to the limelight. Today's recipe, Buffalo Chicken Bowls from Pretty Providence, brought back the buffalo hot sauce (leftover from an interesting pasta concoction that didn't see the publish button), and hot sauce's natural frenemy: Ranch dressing.

This recipe was a piece of cake with a slow cooker. The magic formula for slow-cooking chicken seems to be:

  • 2-3 pounds chicken
  • 1-2 cups flavorful liquid
  • 2-4 cups vegetables (beans, corn, potatoes, onions, carrots, celery)

(for other instances of this formula, see Taco Chicken Bowls and Indian Spiced Stew)

The ingredients for Buffalo Chicken Bowls, and a crock
pot

I left out a few ingredients from the recipe, leaving only:

  • Chicken
  • Buffalo sauce
  • Black beans
  • Corn
  • Rice
  • Ranch dressing

In short, this was the Taco Chicken Bowls recipe with buffalo sauce instead of salsa, and no need for the spice blend.

Like the Taco Chicken Bowls, this goes great in a bowl with some rice, a bit of ranch dressing and cheddar cheese, or wrap the lot in a burrito skin, which is like a tube-shaped bowl you can eat!

The finished recipe served in a bowl over rice with cheese on
top

Pork Tenderloin with Mushroom Mustard Sauce

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I've been eating way too much chicken lately. What can I say? It's cheap, and so am I. But, I'm alive damnit, and I need to allow myself to enjoy some finer things like a nice, expensive cut of meat once in a while. Lucky for me, pork isn't that expensive. So I picked up a nice pork tenderloin, and decided to try my hand at this Pork Tenderloin with Mushroom Sauce from MyRecipes.

I don't have a deep roasting pan, so instead I seared it in my big fry pan (4 minutes per side), then stuck it on a sheet pan in a 375° oven for 25 minutes while I sautéed the mushrooms and made the sauce. Instead of chicken broth, I used some white wine, but by far the boldest flavor in the sauce was the mustard.

Altogether, it was perhaps the tastiest thing I've ever cooked. Mustard sauces are delicious, as I learned last year with Skillet Chicken with Mustard Sauce. Though, the garlic basic couscous I made to accompany could use some work...

Cooked pork tenderloins on roasting pan in oven Pork tenderloin medallions with mustard mushroom sauce and
couscous