The silly season is upon us. Time for reflection, peace, joy, love and a whole lotta’ dashing around like a headless chicken. If I have to go back & battle the 1 hour que in and out of the local retail park to buy yet another pack of AA batteries this side of Christmas Eve I will shed an actual tear.
The most commonly used phrase for acquaintances on the street morphs from “Have you any holiday’s planned?” into “Are you all set for Christmas?“. No one really cares what your answer is either way but we just ask to be polite. And the answer is usually the same no matter who you ask. “No but shur, I’m getting there”.
photo here by Anna Groneicka
And then you get a kind of glazed look in your eyes as you think of the million jobs you have left to do as they answer. And they in turn get a slightly panicked look in theres for the exact same reason. And you both bid each other farewell, a happy Christmas and dash off like a bat out of hell.
Let’s face it at this time of year you need all the help you can get as there is more on and with the crazy traffic you end up with less time to do it in.
Enter slow-cooker and freezer stage left. They won’t hang or wrap the decorations for you but they will afford you some extra time to try keep the crazy at bay.
This is our favourite Pulled Pork recipe – one that has morphed from several other much-loved recipes into one we call our own. There is quite the list of ingredients but once again they are all supermarket bought/store cupboard essentials that you will use time and again. And most importantly this is really really simple to do.
I buy my pork from my local Farmers market in Mahon Point – it really is worth the extra spend on good quality traceable Irish Meat in my opinion. Just eat smaller portions of it to keep costs down as we do eat huge portions of meat generally here!
We freeze it in batches so it’s like the gift that keeps on giving really. What’s not to love?
- 1-1.5kg piece of pork neck or pork shoulder (preferably bone in)*
- 3 tsp smoked paprika
- 3 tsp sea salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns (or just grind pepper from a mill straight in)
- 2 tsps whole fennel seeds
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1tsp cinnamon
- 2 tsps ground chilli
- 2 tsps olive oil or coconut oil
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/4 cup red wine or stock
- 1/4 orange juice
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 whole tomatoes chopped in small pieces.
- 2 cloves garlic sliced
- 2 tablespoons honey or agave
Grind your peppercorns and fennel seeds in a pestal & mortar. Alternatively grind pepper straight in with your pepper mill and crush fennel seeds under your rolling-pin in a little zip lock bag. You really just need to crack them open a little to let the flavour out.
Add the salt, paprika, chilli, cumin, cinnamon and mix. Spread over your joint of meat top and bottom. Cover with cling film in dish and leave in fridge for 2 hours.
Heat your frying pan with the oil of choice in it and brown your joint in the pan on all sides. Add the joint of meat to the slow cooker and set it to the low heat setting.
Add your Cider vinegar, stock (or red wine) & orange juice to the slow cooker with your tomatoes, bay leaves, garlic & honey or agave.
Cook for 8-9 hours.
When cooked sometimes I spoon off a little of the oil on top into a separate dish to discard when cold. Then I use 2 forks to pull the pork apart so it looks shredded and cook for a further 20 – 30 minutes with the lid off and the cooker on high to reduce the sauce slightly. This is personal though and will depend on how you like it!!
Serve with brioche buns and coleslaw or in wraps with a salad of choice. It’s great on a baked potato too or in a simple tortilla wrap with some cucumber, yoghurt and chilli.
There’ll be plenty for leftovers too!! So portion it off into containers and freeze it.
I’ll pop up a healthy, easy pulled pork nacho recipe I use for the leftovers soon. It’ll be great for those Christmas evenings when you don’t feel like cooking but feel you can’t quite justify the take away either.
Your’s, willing it to be dinnertime,
All photo’s by Brid O’Donovan