April 19, 2013 Leave your thoughts
When most people do an easy pork dish, they grab some chops or a tenderloin, season it with a few spices, grill or roast it, and call it a day. Done—dinner on the table.
While there’s nothing wrong with either of those dishes, they’re pretty boring, right? What if I told you there was a way to turn out a delicious, juicy product just as simply? To make both of these recipes, all you need is some pork, a big pot, and a couple of other easy-to-find ingredients. Put away your grill pan and get started.
For this first dish, a sweet braised pork, you’re going to need some pork hocks. (I got mine at my local butcher.) You could also try lamb shanks or chuck roast instead.
Heat the oven to 500 degrees and grease a large pot (I used my Le Creuset French Oven) with about 1 tablespoon of melted coconut oil. Pick something that has a high smoke point, or else you’ll have fat splattered all over the place. Yuck.
Season the pork hocks with a generous amount of salt and pepper. When the oven is up to temperature, place them in the pot and slide it into the oven without the lid on. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes until lightly browned, then flip to the other side. Repeat the process and take the pot out of the oven.
Turn the temperature down to 325 degrees. While the oven cools down a bit, remove the pork hocks from the pot and set aside.
Put your pot on the stove top, heat over medium, and add 1 tablespoon of ghee. (If your cut of meat was particularly fatty, skip this step.) When hot, add 1 large chopped onion and 3 small cloves of minced garlic. Sprinkle with salt and allow to cook until soft and beginning to brown, about 7 to 9 minutes.
Next, add 1/2 cup of white white and 1 teaspoon of dried thyme and allow to bubble away for about 2 minutes. If you don’t want to use wine, feel free to substitute 1/2 cup of broth or water.
Now add 1/4 cup of chopped apricots and 1/4 cup chopped prunes. You can always use less fruit for a more neutral-tasting dish, but I don’t recommend omitting it altogether. Stir to incorporate it into the wine and veggie mixture, then proceed to return the pork hocks to the pot.
Cover with enough chicken stock and/or water to nearly submerge the meat, about 3 cups in total. Season well with salt and pepper and put the lid on the pot. Transfer the whole thing to the oven, and cook until the pork is tender and falling off the bone, about 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Every half an hour, give the pork a flip and gently stir the sauce.
If you need to use your oven for something else during this time, simply simmer the pork on the stovetop over low heat. Easy as that!
This next one-pot dish, Pork Carnitas, is a recipe from Melissa Joulwan’s Well Fed, one of my favorite Paleo cookbooks of all time. (It’s definitely worth the money, so go ahead and buy it!) Crispy, savory…and absolutely delicious.
First, mix your spices. Combine 1 tablespoon of cumin, 1 tablespoon of garlic powder, 1/2 tablespoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of ground corriander, and 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper. Whisk together with a fork. Pour the spices into the bag, and add 4 pounds of cut up pork shoulder. Remove most, but not all of the excess fat from the top of each piece.
Seal the bag shut and, as vigorously as you can, shake to distribute the spices to all of the pieces of pork. This will take a couple of minutes, so keep shaking!
Now it’s time to cook your carnitas. In a large, wide pot, add a little bit of melted coconut oil on the bottom to insure the pork won’t stick. (I skipped this step and nearly ruined our really expensive Le Creuset—OUCH!) With the heat off, snuggly arrange the pork pieces on the bottom and add the juice of 2 oranges, 4 lemons, and 4 limes. You should have a little more than 1 1/4 cups of liquid in total.
Add just enough water to cover the pork (for me, about 1 1/2 additional cups) and bring to a steady boil.
Decrease the heat to low and simmer away until the liquid evaporates, about 2 to 2 1/2 hours total. Once the water and citrus is mostly gone, add a little more coconut oil and brown your carnitas on all sides, about 5 minutes more.
Leave whole, or shred into large chunks and smother with sauce.
What is your favorite thing to do with pork? Leave me a comment on Facebook and let me know!