The weather here surprised us all by hitting 90 degrees yesterday, and today, it’s nearly 100. San Diego is really a desert, so of course it gets that hot here, but rarely at this time of year, and even more rarely near the coast. The sweltering dry heat that we’re more familiar with comes late summer in August, or even September, and as much as individuals from the East Coast enjoy reminding us we don’t have to deal with humidity, heat is heat, and I’m not cut out for it.
Plans of baking and slow braising pork went out the window until I realized I could blow the dust off my crock pot. Literally. It’s been in the garage since our construction when I removed anything from my kitchen that doesn’t get regular use. Of course the crock pot could be perfect; no heat in the kitchen to make things worse, and a relatively fuss-free dinner after the sun dipped below the horizon.
Plan B allowed me to be able to sit on my patio alternating between the sun and the shade (because it will take a bit of effort to get some color into my winter legs and a trip to Puerta Vallarta with girlfriends is in the works…), reading my book, and enjoying the breeze we are lucky enough to have on this hill. By tomorrow, it’s supposed to be 30 degrees cooler if you can believe that.
I don’t. They never quite seem to get the weather reports right here!
Pulled Pork Sandwiches and Sweet Potato Fries
5 lbs. pork shoulder roast
1 lg. white onion, sliced
For the rub…
1 tsp. fennel seed
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground corriander
1 T smoked paprika
1-1/2 tsp. chili powder
1-1/2 tsp. onion powder
1-1/2 tsp. sea salt
For the braise…
1 can mango apricot nectar (14.5 oz)
About 1 c. water
Mix the dry ingredients and rub over all surfaces of the pork. Divide the sliced onions in half and place one half on the bottom of the crock pot, place the meat over the top, then spread the remaining half of onions over the top. Pour the mango apricot nectar over all, and add about 1/2 can of water. Place the lid on the crockpot and cook on high for about 5 hours. Lift meat from the broth and set on a platter. Scoop out the onions and add them to the pork. Using a couple of forks, pull apart the pieces of pork, removing any bones. Taste and correct seasoning.
For the slaw…
3-4 sliced radishes
2 c. sliced green cabbage
1/4 sliced red onion
1/2 head radicchio, sliced
1/4 c. cilantro, chopped
3-4 bottled peppers, sliced (like pepperoncini)
2-3 T red or white wine vinegar
sprinkle of salt
About 1 hour before serving, mix all ingredients in a large bowl, cover and let sit at room temperature. Toss occasionally.
For the corn…
Shave the kernels off two cobs of fresh sweet corn. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat until very warm and pour in the kernels. Heat, stirring only occasionally to allow the corn to begin to brown. Add seasoning, and a few pinches of chopped cilantro and some sliced green onions. A squirt of fresh lime juice finishes it. Remove from heat.
To make the sandwiches…
Partially split some crusty sandwich rolls and fill with the pork mixture. Add some of the slaw and top with a sprinkle of the skillet corn. Season with salt and pepper and dig in.
To make the sweet potato fries…
While the pork is in the crock pot, place 2-3 whole sweet potatoes in a pot of water to cover. Bring to a boil and cook for10 minutes, then remove from the water to let cool. After you’re finished making the slaw and corn above, peel the cooled potatoes and slice into 1/4″ sticks. Heat a deep narrow pot with vegetable oil. Using a thermometer to keep an eye on the heat, allow the oil to heat to 325 degrees F. Working in batches, carefully lower the sticks into the hot oil. Let fry about 3 to 4 minutes then remove to a platter covered with paper towels. Repeat until all the sticks are cooked. Allow to sit for at least 10-15 minutes. Bring the oil back up to 375 degrees F for the second fry. Cook in batches until just beginning to brown. Drain on a fresh set of paper towels and sprinkle with some season salt, or any seasoning of your choice.
- The pork has nice flavor. It’s lightly sweet, but nothing like something smothered in barbeque sauce. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy that once every blue moon, but prefer to taste the meat more than the sauce. I know we just had these a couple of months ago, so this is somewhat of a record!
- I used two smaller pork shoulder roasts, each about 2-1/2 lbs. each. They pack the crock pot so there’s not much room for liquid. Speaking of liquid, I’d leave out the water and just go with the juice.
- If I’d thought about this longer than I did, I’d have left the rub on over night before cooking.
- The slaw just needs to be something you enjoy. Whether it’s the vegetables or a type of sauce, play around with it. I like a light, tart taste, so this was perfect. I love the corn in the mix. I love the corn period. It’s so easy to make, and like the slaw, you can do what you want to it. The most important aspect is to let it sit to begin to caramelize. Garlic is good mixed in, any kind of onion, different herbs. And if you don’t have fresh corn, then frozen works fine, but thaw it out first and make sure it’s well drained before it goes in the pan.
- Okay, so those sweet potatoes….Oh. My. The flavor is amazing. We couldn’t get them crispy crunchy like the last batch of regular fries we made, but we’re hooked and ready to experiment. I’m wondering about slicing rounds to get them thinner. That just might work. And I definitely know the oven is a possibility, but remember that if your oil is the right temperature, the fries won’t be greasy.
- This is one of the more inexpensive dinners we’ve had lately and it’s going to get even cheaper…
- We have tons of pork left over so I’m going to experiment with another sandwich. Maybe a take on a Cubano. Have you had one before?