Category Archives: Slow Cooker

Slow cooker Carolina-inspired pulled pork

It tasted a lot better than it looks here. 😉 More on the toast later.

Warning: The lighting in our kitchen is even worse than usual, so these photos are pretty bad! The overhead fluorescent conked out, and Wilko was out of tubes that fit, so I temporarily dragged a halogen floor lamp in there from the living room. I tried to fix these a little, but yeah. At least it’s enough light to cook by.

I hadn’t even planned on posting this one, so I didn’t get any step-by-step photos while cooking it. But, it turned out tasty–and easy!–enough that I wanted to go ahead. 🙂

Lately, I’d been craving something with a Carolina style vinegar-based barbecue sauce. (Interesting article: BBQ History: A Very Brief History of the Four Types of Barbeque Found In the USA) One of the things I’ve missed a lot living in the UK–besides good Mexican restaurants!–is barbecue. Mr. Sweden keeps watching Food Network UK, which doesn’t help, with all the shows from the US full of barbecue and other kinds of food which are hard to impossible to get in restaurants here!

Another thing you need to make for yourself, usually including the sauce because most of the bottled stuff available here is not to my taste, besides all being the thick tomato-based stuff. I like those styles too, but not all the time. A lot of the time I’ll use Tropical Sun Smoked BBQ Seasoning for a dry rub (be careful, I think it was the Island Sun kind that I got home and found was full of wheat!), with a good hickory smoked flavor to it. Reggae Reggae or other jerk barbecue sauces are good too, for a thicker tomato-based option. But, especially with pork, sometimes I just want a mustard or plain vinegar-and-pepper sauce for a lighter flavor. This sauce ended up kind of a hybrid there, with just a hint of mustard flavor to it.

The recipe I worked from with this: Spicy Carolina Style Pulled Pork (In Crock Pot) Recipe, with an average five-star rating, which sounded promising!

I had to substitute a few things, but the version we ended up eating tonight was delicious enough that I’m trying not to run back in the kitchen and eat more of it now. 🙂

The GFSC version

1.5 kg / 3.3 lb. pork shoulder roast

I actually bought two smaller frozen ones, and let them thaw a little before putting on the dry rub. Anywhere near that weight range would work fine for the amount of seasonings.

Dry rub mixture:
1.5 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon paprika
1.5 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Rub that all over the meat, then put it on top of a big quartered onion laid in the bottom of the slow cooker. If you have the time and patience, let it sit for a few hours in the fridge. (With the long, slow cooking here, I’m not sure how much difference the extra marinating time makes.)

While that’s sitting, you can mix up the sauce. I just put in a smallish jar, to make it easier to shake up and store about a quarter of it in the fridge while the meat cooks.

Sauce:
1/2 c. / 125mL cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons GF soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (I thought we had more in the cabinet!)
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
3 big cloves finely chopped/crushed  garlic (or 1.5-2 tsp. garlic powder)
1 teaspoon powdered cayenne pepper (I used half cayenne and half Indian chili powder, for more complex flavor)

Put all of these in a jar, and shake to mix it up.  You may want to add more red pepper when you taste for seasonings later. I like it hot, but started off easy on it because crock pot cooking usually gives intense flavors. If you don’t like the heat so much, use less starting out. 🙂

Pour about 3/4 of the sauce over the meat and onions in the crock, then let it cook 8-10 hours overnight on the low heat setting, or probably 4-5 hours on high. You want it tender enough that it’s starting to fall apart. This batch took longer to cook, but it went in half-frozen.

Doesn’t even come close to doing it justice, but yum.

As the original recipe author put it:

remove the meat and onions to a cutting board. remove skin and set aside. using two forks (or your fingers, if you have asbestos hands), pull and shred the pork. chop the onions, and mix into the shredded meat. using a fork, remove some of the fat from under the skin, mince, and add to the shredded meat and onions as needed for moisture and flavor.

I let it cool down enough so I could handle it without burning myself. I’d actually wanted to chop instead of shred it, but that shoulder cooked with vinegar wanted to shred–it’s all good! 😉

Then I put the pulled meat back in the crock, mixed it up with the saucy juices (just about the right amount, though I was afraid it would be too juicy), let it simmer about half an hour longer on low, then tasted for seasoning. Ours needed the rest of the vinegar sauce left in the jar added, along with some extra spices and a few dashes of Tabasco. After a late brunch, we weren’t hungry again yet, so I just let it simmer on low for a couple more hours. It’s hard to get the cooking time too wrong with a crock pot.

Best served with some buns and coleslaw. (And some extra sauce on the side, but we didn’t really miss it.) As you may have noticed from the top picture, I had some trouble with that! I totally forgot to buy any GF buns, and the small store I stopped by only had savoy cabbage out. You could probably make slaw out of that, but I didn’t feel like trying today. It just wasn’t the same without slaw mounded on top. Mr. Sweden plopped some ranch dressing on his (on top of nice wheaty buns :P), and said it was pretty good.

But, toast works, and the bagged salad with homemade ranch dressing has come cabbage and carrots in there. 😀 It made a good meal, anyway!

Not surprisingly, even after the dog looked pitiful enough that he got a big plate of it too (minus salad), we had about half the batch left. It should freeze OK for later.

Hillbilly Cassoulet

A bowl of bean stew

The fuzziness is from steam

Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference store brand does have a couple of kinds of gluten-free sausages (Sicilian and Toulouse), so I picked some up again on a twofer deal. I didn’t feel like just frying them up to have with some potatoes or something, so decided to make a variation on cassoulet with the Toulouse sausages in the slow cooker.

With the British winter weather setting in, I was also craving a big pot of pinto beans. I can’t help it, though Mr. Sweden probably wishes I could. 🙂 So, I decided to combine the two. It worked better than I expected.

The Beans

  • 2/3 of a pound (500g) bag of pinto beans — you can use more or less
  • Water to cover the beans — filtered, in this case, since we have liquid chalk coming out of the faucet
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda, if your water is hard — too much will make them taste soapy

Sort and soak the beans overnight, in plenty of water. Unless the weather’s really hot, they’re usually OK to soak for anywhere between 8 and 16 hours. You can also quick-soak them by bringing them to a boil, then covering them and letting them sit for about an hour in the hot water. Long soaking to start the sprouting process (preferably invisibly) makes them a lot easier to digest, though–a good thing with the musical fruit! An excellent article I ran across: Reducing Phytic Acid in Grains and Legumes.

Drain and rinse the beans. Cover them with fresh water, and bring to a rolling boil. You can continue to cook them on the stove, or move them into a slow cooker.

The Slow Cooker

My slow cooker

With its baleful glowing eye... And, erm, toothpick for a steam vent to make it stop spitting all over the place.


Technically, you could start the beans off on high, straight in the crock, but it will take forever to get up to a boil. (If you’re wanting to cook them on low, definitely boil them for ten minutes in a pot first, to break down the phytohemaglutinin.) If you aren’t going to be leaving it alone to cook all day, you’ll probably want to preheat it before the beans go in. I turned the heating sleeve on high, and let it sit while I was making my coffee today. The crock sat full of hot tap water, a couple of changes, until it was well-heated and unlikely to crack when I set it down in a hot liner! The crock will take ages to heat up on its own, and I was impatient.

Put the beans in the crock. Add more water, if necessary, to make sure they’re well covered. Add the salt and baking soda, if you need it. (Yeah, it will reduce levels of some vitamins, but I figure it’s more important to get the beans cooked properly!) The beans will probably be done in a couple of hours on high, if things were preheated; put on low in the morning, they’ll be ready when you get home at the end of the day. If you’re going to add other stuff, like for this recipe, you don’t want to let them cook to the point that they start falling apart.

Plain cooked pinto beans in the slow cooker

Looking good, if plain!

The additions

Ingredients to put in the beans: sausages, bacon, onion, celery, carrot, garlic

  • 1 lb. (400-500g) sausages — Toulouse, in this case
  • Some bacon (I used the second half of a 200g pack of already-chopped dry cured)
  • A chopped onion
  • Two chopped stalks of celery
  • A couple of chopped carrots — we had leftover cooked ones, so I cut those up and added them later
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced

Brown the sausages in a pan. You don’t have to make sure they’re cooked through (good thing, since those were half-frozen still), just browned on all sides. Let them sit and cool while you fry the bacon in the same pan–with the fairly chunkily chopped onion, celery, and carrot, until the non-carrot veggies are translucent. I also used a little olive oil, since that bacon didn’t have enough fat. Add the sliced garlic, and cook a few more minutes, until it’s also starting to go translucent.

A cast-iron skillet with the bacon and vegetables cooking

Mmm, browning.

Once the sausages are cool enough to touch, cut them into bite-sized pieces. These, I quartered.

Stir the bacon and veggie mixture and seasonings into the simmering beans.

Seasonings:

  • Bay leaf
  • Coarsely ground pepper
  • A little crushed red pepper
  • Sprig of fresh rosemary, or some dried
  • Dried thyme and rosemary (add later)
  • A splash of red wine (add later)
  • Salt, to taste, if needed
Added bacon and vegetables, the celery leaves chopped up, and a sprig of fresh rosemary

With the bacon and veggies, chopped leaves from the celery, a bay leaf, and a sprig of rosemary

Add the sausage pieces.

Added the sausage

Let it simmer for about an hour after adding these. About 20 minutes before it’s done, add the dried herbs (thyme, marjoram, rosemary if you’re using dried), and the wine. I also threw in the cooked carrots at this point.

The finished stew, in the slow cooker

Not very photogenic, brownish stews...

Serve with bread, and enjoy! With this, we had the corny gluten-free angel bread.