January. Whilst many look on it as the month of “fresh starts” others aren’t quite so excited about it. If you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s cold (it can be bitterly cold), dark and grey. And, unless you’re out skiing or tobogganing or enjoying the snow in some other form of winter sport, much of the contact you have with it will be trudging through it on your way to work or shoveling your sidewalk. Not the best fun ever… I’ve never been one for the winter, even when I lived in Australia or France, for that matter where I though the winter was quite cold enough, never mind that I live in Toronto now where it was something like -25˚C with the wind chill yesterday!
With temperatures like that, you’re much more likely to find me at home rather than out. After all those parties in December, in January I’m a homebody – in French it’s known as “le cocooning”. In winter, I’ll be embracing my kitchen rather than the great white outdoors – there tends to be a lot of baking (for others) and comfort food happening in my house in January and February.
However, comfort food tends to evoke thoughts of rich, hearty meals that sometimes take a long time to prepare. If you’ve spent any time entertaining in December (or attending parties) this might be the last thing you feel like doing or eating. But fear not – here’s where your slow cooker comes in.
Slow cookers are great for helping prep hearty, flavourful meals with not much “hands-on” time. Stews and soups in particular are wonderful ways to make the most of your slow cooker and mine often comes into play over the long winter months. Something I have been experimenting with over the past little while, though, has been pulled pork and it, too, is an excellent way to make use of your slow cooker.
I took the inspiration for my recent preferred iteration of pulled pork from a favourite dish – red roast pork – which I make regularly. That is a dish that is quick and easy enough to make during the week but it also plates up nicely for guests. The flavours of the marinade are intense and I figured they might work really well in a pulled pork version too.
In the slow cooker, the marinating takes place as the meat cooks, so once you have the meat in the slow cooker, it’s very hands-off. A great dish to come home to if you’ve cooked it while you’re at work or cook it overnight on a weekend for a fabulous lunch for the next day.
The pork is tasty enough just to enjoy on its own – perhaps with some sautéed Asian greens and a little steamed rice, but it does well in a bun with some Asian-inspired slaw too. This is so good that I’ve made it three times since mid-December. It’s perfect January-February comfort food fare.
Also check out 5 Tips for nailing your Slow Cooker Recipes.