One of the problems associated with my artistic lifestyle is that I am always pressed for time every day of the week. The design phase sees me working around 15 hours a day with precious little time to fit any other “normal” activities into the day. My current work schedule is no respecter of the “weekend”. Every day is the same. My latest return to the design and production of hand spun wool and hand dyed wool has seen this same pattern of chronic lack of time and sleep, seep into my life. For this reason alone, I have not written a weekly blog since late June. That’s life.
I am always relieved for want of a better word, when I can come up with a culinary solution to the problem I face with no time at all to scratch myself. Better still, I always feel happy when I can concoct a recipe that will end up as a hot meal for 2-3 days at a time during peak work periods. This is not the ideal as we do like our fresh vegetables from the garden. A foundation meal will often be accompanied by freshly cooked vegetables every day. I can tell you that today the “leftover” polenta and pulled pork in this recipe will be accompanied with some baked Jap pumpkin slices and roasted fennel. Contrary to what the earlier idealistic bourgeois feminists told me back in the liberated 70’s, you cannot possibly have it all. I certainly have not found a solution to my time poor status, that is for sure as I must earn a supplementary income, regardless of how I feel. The only women who have had it all in my considered opinion, have been wealthy women who were able to employ other women to do their domestic drudgery.
I have been mucking around with a joint of pork this past year and have devised this very simple recipe you can try yourself. There is a great big hoo haa about “pulled pork” these days. Yes, the recipe for this delicious dish can take many hours and needs constant attention. So they tell me. I have worked out this no nonsense recipe but you must have a slow cooker with a ceramic insert on hand to make this a success. I have a basic slow cooker that has a low, high and keep warm setting and nothing else. You may have to muck around with the cooking times if your slow cooker is different.
Right, to eat this meal around 2 pm the next day, I started preparations around 7 pm the night before. I need around 19 hours for this recipe. You must do the same but adjust your starting time to suit when you wish to eat this delicious meal.
Wipe out the slow cooker with some olive oil and set this aside. Take a rolled shoulder of pork and remove all fat and skin. You need a nice lean piece of pork for this recipe.
Heat up a heavy based frypan. Add a touch of olive oil and dump in the shoulder. Sear all the sides until the pink has gone and there is some browning present. This joint fell apart but that is not a problem. The searing is very important to set the undertone of the flavour.
Dump the seared joint into the slow cooker and set aside. Mix up the saucing ingredients next.
For this recipe, I used a good heaped tablespoon of chopped ginger and garlic I keep under oil in the fridge, alongside around 1/2 to 2/3 cup of Teriyaki sauce, 1 tablespoon mushroom soy sauce and 1 1/2 cups milk. The lactic acid in the milk helps to soften the pork. Whisk the sauce together and pour over the joint in the slow cooker ceramic insert. Drop the insert into the slow cooker.
Put the lid onto the slow cooker and set it to the low setting. I did this at 7 pm. Now, do not start poking about in the cooker. Leave that lid on and walk away to allow the steam to build up and slowly cook that joint overnight. Just remember to select the low setting. My husband places the cooker on the back verandah overnight because I don’t like getting up in the night during my fractious sleep patterns and smelling cooking. At 7 am (12 hours later), I removed the lid to see that the pork had shrunk somewhat (photo above left) and the sauce had developed a bit of a crust. Not a problem. Turn over the pork at this stage and spoon over the sauce. Replace the lid. Turn the cooking regulator up to high and walk away until an hour before you are ready to eat. In my schedule, the pork had to cook on the “high” setting for another 7 hours.
I grew up eating the now fashionable “fushion” cooking style and today’s recipe is no different. I knocked out a batch of polenta and quickly spread it into a baking tray to set. I also dashed out to the vegetable patch and brought back a Pak Choy, Wombok, some Swiss chard and some Tuscan kale leaves. All were thoroughly washed and shredded. I then fried up some pancetta my brother Robbie cured and smoked, alongside a thinly sliced red onion and two spuds from the garden. Once the potato cubes took on some colour, I added all the leafy vegetables and half a cup of water, salt and pepper and some marjoram and steamed them for approximately 15 minutes. After removing the lid from the pan of vegetables, I turned up the heat and added a fist full of chopped up Italian flat leafed parsley and sauteed the contents but only until the contents started sticking to the pan and taking on colour. The polenta and vegetable sautee were made up during the last hour of the pork cooking.
The pork is ready when it falls to pieces with a gentle prod. I shoved a fork in (left) and the pork fell apart in lumps. Good sign. Take up two forks facing away from each other and proceed to shred the meat and distribute the meat throughout the runny sauce.
Take a slice of polenta and top it with some pulled pork and sauce. Serve with a side of sauteed leafy greens. You must have your greens every day.
I like the pork the next day as the meat helps to set and thicken the sauce somewhat.
We had some of this for our midday main meal the next day and it was delicious indeed. I sliced the polenta slab into two thinner slices and dumped the pulled pork on one half and my beloved vegetables on the other. Very easy to heat in the microwave. Another successful culinary experiment for me. In keeping with my passion for home grown vegetables, this is a six vegetable meal. Success! When the greens run out, as mentioned earlier, there will be some Jap pumpkin and roasted fennel added to the protein/polenta foundation. Time to whack on a nose bag and enjoy this seemingly effortless meal.