Slow Cooker Mexican Shredded Pork

Slow Cooker Mexican Shredded Pork makes a great filling for tacos and burritos. The slow cooker makes it a breeze to prepare. This recipe will yield a mildly spicy finished product. For a little extra kick, increase the amount of slice jalapeños and add a few dashes of your favorite hot sauce to braising liquid at the start.

Slow Cooker Mexican Shredded Pork
(Mark Kelly, 2017)

Makes 10 – 12 Taco or Burrito Servings

8 lbs. pork shoulder cut into 2-inch cubes
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp Kosher salt
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp dried oregano
1 1/2 Tbsp Ancho chili powder
1 1/2 tsp cayenne
1 1/2 large jalapeños, stemmed and seeded, sliced 1/8-inch thick crosswise
2 limes, juiced
1 large orange, juiced
2 bay leaves
1 bottle of beer, preferably Negro Modelo

Mix the seasoning in a large bowl. The night before putting the pork in the slow cooker toss the pork pieces with the seasoning rub in a large bowl until thoroughly coated. Refrigerate, covered, overnight.

Six hours before serving put the seasoned pork in the slow cooker vessel and add the lime juice, orange juice, bay leaves and beer. Cover and cook on low, stirring occasionally, until the pork is tender and just falling apart. Drain the pork, reserving 1 1/2 cups of the liquid. Put the pork back into the slow cooker and gently shred the meat. Pour the reserved cooking liquid back into the shredded pork. Keep on warm until serving.

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Slow Cooker Oil-Poached Chicken Breasts

Slow Cooker Oil-Poached Chicken Breasts is a simple way to achieve perfectly cooked, tender chicken breasts. Preparation time takes 15-20 minutes and then the slow cooker does the rest. To insure the chicken cooking within 45 minutes make sure: that you have halved the breasts, that you have allowed them to come up to room temperature, and that the poaching oil is at 200F when the chicken is placed in the slow cooker.

Slow Cooker Oil-Poached Chicken Breasts
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of Food and Wine, January 2017)

Serves 4

1/4 cup fine salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 lemon quartered
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, halved lengthwise
3 cups extra-virgin olive oil
5 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 Fresh bay leaves
1 Tbsp dried thyme leaves or 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 fresh rosemary sprig
1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns
Kosher salt

In a large bowl, whisk 5 cups cold water with the fine salt and sugar until dissolved. Squeeze and add 2 lemon quarters into the bowl. Add the chicken, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 6 hours.

Meanwhile, add the oil to a slow cooker along with garlic, bay leaves, thyme, rosemary, peppercorns a couple of pinches of salt, and the remaining 2 lemon quarters. Cook, covered, on low until the oil registers 200F, about 1 hour. The oil can be kept on low for up to 6 hours.

At least an hour before cooking remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry; transfer to a plate and discard the brine. About 45 minutes before serving, using tongs, carefully lower the chicken into the warm oil and cook on low until the internal temperature registers 155F, about 40 – 45 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to a platter. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving. Serve with a fresh vegetable and crusty warm bread.

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Slow-Cooker Skirt Steak Fajitas

Slow-Cooker Skirt Steak Fajitas is an incredibly easy recipe for tender, flavorful shredded beef for tacos, burritos or tostadas. My son, Nolan, gave me this recipe and I only tweaked it a little — I couldn’t help myself.

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Slow-Cooker Skirt Steak Fajitas
(Nolan Kelly, 2016)

Serves 4

2 – 2 1/2 lbs. skirt steak
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded, chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded, chopped
1 orange bell pepper, seeded, chopped
2 large jalapeños, seeded, vein removed, chopped
4 large garlic cloves, minced
4 limes, juiced
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 mango, diced
1 can (15 oz.) pinto beans
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Place the steaks as flat as possible in the slow-cooker. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook covered on low for 3 to 4 hours turning once halfway through. At that time re-season with salt and pepper. After the initial cooking period add all of the remaining ingredients and continue cooking on low for 5 hours longer.

Remove and allow to cool a bit before shredding the beef. Serve with your favorite toppings and garnishes including some of the cooked vegetables, mango and beans.

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Slow Cooker Italian Braised Pork with Polenta

Slow Cooker Italian Braised Pork with Polenta takes 8 hours to produce a finished product but it is outstanding. The pork is juicy and tender. The braising liquid is rich and savory. Served over freshly made creamy polenta this dish an absolute winner.

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Slow Cooker Italian Braised Pork with Polenta
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of Cooking Light, January/February 2015)

Serves 4 to 6

1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 (1 1/2 to 2-pound) boneless pork shoulder
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups sliced onion
1 cup sliced yellow pepper
10 garlic cloves, minced
2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, drained
1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 Tbsp dried thyme leaves
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
3 cups 2% milk
3/4 cup cornmeal for polenta
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Season the pork generously with salt and pepper. Add pork to the pan and brown all sides. Transfer the pork to a slow cooker. Add onion, yellow pepper, and garlic to the pan, saute for 5 minutes or until tender. Transfer the vegetables to the slow cooker. Add season with salt and pepper, add tomatoes, rosemary and thyme. Cover and cook on LOW for 7 1/2 hours. Add vinegar and Worcestershire. Cook, uncovered, for an additional 30 minutes. Turn off the slow cooker and shred the pork using two forks.

To prepare polenta, put milk in a medium-sized non-stick skillet; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; add cornmeal, whisking constantly to eliminate lumps. Cook 4 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in cheese and season with pepper.

Serve pork over polenta in shallow bowls with some of the braising liquid. Garnish with additional grated Parmesan.

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Slow Cooker Asian Chicken

Slow Cooker Asian Chicken is a perfect way to make use of your slow cooker, known to many as a crock pot. The long low-temperature braising of meats or poultry can be done in the slow cooker and this particular recipe is the essence of that cooking method. The combination of fast, simple preparation and letting the slow cooker do the work makes this dish perfect for a lazy NFL Championship Sunday afternoon or a weeknight.

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Slow Cooker Asian Chicken
(Mark Kelly, 2015)

Serves 4

3 large bone-in, skinless chicken breasts
3/4 cup honey
3/8 cup low-sodium soy sauce
3/8 cup blackberry jam
3/8 cup hoisin
4 Tsp extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 cup onion, diced
2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp cornstarch
Sliced scallions, for garnish
Chopped cilantro, for garnish
Sesame seeds, for garnish

Arrange the chicken breasts in the bottom of a slow cooker.

In a medium bowl, mix the honey, soy sauce, jam, hoisin, olive oil, garlic cloves, onion and red pepper flakes. Pour the sauce over the chicken. Cover and cook on LOW for 4 to 5 hours, until the chicken is cooked through.

Remove the chicken from the slow cooker and reserve the liquids. Shred the chicken into smaller pieces. Place the chicken in a bowl and set aside.

Make a slurry with the cornstarch and 3 tablespoons of cold water.

Put the braising liquids in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and whisk in the slurry. Bring the sauce to a boil and cook it until it is reduced and slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Pour the sauce over the chicken, tossing to combine. Serve the chicken over brown rice topped with scallions, cilantro, and sesame seeds.

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