As a young food snob, I assumed that the only things that came out of a crock pot contained a can of cream of something soup and boneless, skinless chicken breasts. The fact that I never just got rid of the thing is a testament to my love of my mom and so I lied and told her I used it all the time, kept it at the back of some closet and carried on with my life.
Cut to more than a decade later. I found myself at home with The Kid who, as a toddler , clearly had a death wish. Suddenly I couldn't find an hour in the evening to make a nice dinner if I want to keep him from climbing to the top of every bookshelf in the house. By that time, we all had computers and the internet and I started searching around for ideas for delicious meals I could make that wouldn't require hours in the kitchen and lo and behold, I saw that people were making wondrous things with their crock pots. Indian curries, rich lamb stews made with stout and delectable things with pork roasts and not a can of cream of mushroom soup in sight.
I finally unpacked my mom's gift to me and gave it a whirl. I don't remember exactly what I made but I do remember how easy it was to throw all of the ingredients together in the morning before Mister Destructo woke up, forget about it all day and then enjoy a delicious meal 8 hrs later. Between the crock pot and my rice cooker, we managed to stay well fed and The Kid managed to stay alive. He is sitting here right now, playing Anno 1404 on his computer, right as rain.
|my asian pork is cooking away in there|
This one has a nice, easy touchpad to program the time and the temperature and it automatically switches to "warm" after the cooking time is up. Now I can use my crock pot on work days when I am going to be longer than 8 hrs because it will switch to warm all on it's own. At first I wasn't sure I liked that it only gave two time options for high and two for low, but I realized that those are very universal cooking times and I have never cooked anything for longer than 8 hrs at low anyway so I was just being picky. I love that the stoneware pot is black because my old, white one is pretty stained after years of use and I would rather not have to look at that.
It did a great job of cooking the pork and since it's a bit smaller than my old one, it is a much better fit for my 3 person family unit. Not to be too shallow but the old one had a weird, pastel floral motif and this one has a shiny, stainless and black exterior and looks like it's from this century. I don't know what they coat the stoneware pot with, but even after this sticky pork cooking in it all day, it cleaned up with little more than a wipe with a soapy sponge and since I am a lazy woman, I like things that don't require elbow grease.
For my new crock pot's maiden voyage, I chose to make this asian pulled pork to make Korean Bibimbap tacos I found on Hip Foodie Mom's blog. We had the tacos on the first night to celebrate the return of the NHL and I am pretty sure that the tacos are the main reason that The Toronto Maple Leafs won their very first game of the season. I sent the same taco fixings on a bowl of sticky brown rice to school with The Kid and that went over very well but I still wanted to do something a little different. I loved the tacos but I thought that it would be even better as a sope. The masa cakes have a stronger corn taste and they are sturdier with the little bowl shape that holds the sauce in better without disintegrating the way corn tortillas tend to do when you have sloppy contents.
The pork itself is delicious on it's own, tossed with some of the reduced cooking liquid and is great on rice or in a bun with the korean bbq sauce and some asian slaw as a pulled pork sandwich. This recipe makes a lot of pork so you can find lots of things to do with it and although you may be tempted to bathe in it, I don't recommend it.
Bibimbap SopesAdapted from hip foodie mom
1/2 cup light soy sauce
1/2 cup hoisin sauce
3tbl rice vinegar
1/4 cup honey
3cloves garlic, smashed
1 1/2 tables grated fresh ginger
2tbls seame oil
3 star anise
2lb pork butt cut in a few chunks
Put the pork in the crock pot. Whisk all of the other ingredients together and pour over the pork. Put the lid on and cook at low heat for about 8 hrs. When it's cooked, remove the pork, remove any big chunks of fat and shred like for pulled pork ( use your hands or two forks). Pour the cooking liquid into a fat separator if you have one (like the one you might use to make gravy with). You can put it in the fridge to cool so the fat congeals and you can just get rid of it that way if you are making the pork ahead of time. If neither of those methods works for you, do the best you can skimming the fat off the top of the liquid - there will be quite a bit and you really want to get rid of as much of it as possible. After you get rid of the unwanted greasy fat, pour the liquid into a pot and bring to a boil over med high heat and boil that down until it's reduced by half. Pour the reduced cooking liquid over the pork and toss well to make sure all the meat is coated in the sauce. Now your meat is ready to eat.
230 g spinach
1tsp light soy sauce
1tsp sesame oil
1tsp sesame seeds
Put the spinach into a pot of boiling water and Blanche for about 2 minutes. Remove to a strainer and rinse under cold, running water. Take handfuls of spinach and squeeze all the water out. Chop it up and put in a bowl. Continue until all the spinach is chopped and then add the rest of the ingredients, stir to combine and set aside
1 medium daikon, peeled and shredded on a mandoline ( about 3 cups)
Pinch kosher salt
1tbls red pepper powder
1 1/2 tables apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 tbl sugar
1tbls sesame seeds
1clove minced garlic
Sprinkle a good pinch of kosher salt over the daikon and let sit for a few minutes before rinsing well in cold water. Drain and return the radish to the bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Set aside
Korean BBQ Sauce
2tbls light soy sauce
1tsp rice vinegar
2tsp sesame oil
Whisk everything together really well and set aside
Time to make the sopes!
Sopes a la Mamashack
1 cup masa harina1 1/2 tbls shortening or lard1/2 tsp salt1/2 tsp baking powderabout 1/2 cup + 2 tbl hot tap water
mix the masa harina, salt and baking powder in a bowl. Cut in the shortening like you would for pie dough. I just use my fingers to work it in until it has that pea like texture. Add the water, starting with 1/2 cup and mix it all together with your hands. Add water, 1 tbls at a time until the dough has the texture of a nice, soft cookie dough.
If you are making small appetizer sized sopes, roll the dough into balls the size of golf balls. I made them bigger because it was our entree so mine were the size of swollen golf balls, maybe 2".
If you have a tortilla press, great. If not, I use a flat spatula to flatten them out until they are about 1/4" thick.
Heat a dry, heavy pan (i like cast iron) over medium heat until it's really hot. Add the sopes and fry for two minutes a side. Take them out of the pan and start pinching up the sides to make a little wall, turning your flat disc into a little well to hold in all those tasty fillings. It will burn your fingers a little bit but like fashion, sometimes you have suffer for great food.
Meanwhile, heat another heavy pan (I don't like to use a really big pan to fry) with about 1/4" of vegetable oil. The oil is ready when a little piece of dough sizzles after you drop it in.
Add the sopes and fry for a minute or so , flat bottom down and then flip them over and fry them for another minute , flat side up. Remove from the pan and place, flat side up, on a paper towel lined plate to drain some of that extra oil.
After they are all done, flip them right side up and start filling them, meat on the bottom, topped with the radish and spinach and drizzle with the korean bbq sauce. Sprinkle with more sesame seeds if you like.