The problem with getting good flavored meat out of the slow cooker, is that you usually can't. The strong flavors you start with dilute into blandness as moisture escapes the food and collects in the crock. One way I see this sidestepped in recipes, is to add something bold and fresh at the end, like vinegar or fresh herbs. Another way is what I did for this one: skim the fat, and reduce the liquid until it's flavorful again. Yummmm! (Too bad I couldn't eat it on my diet, but I did taste the meat, delish, and helped myself to the slaw.)
One more slow-cooker tip: I have come to avoid shredded meat recipes, because shredding the meat is so time-consuming, I hate it! But I found a genius solution. Throw that meat in your electric mixer bowl, and "mix" for a few seconds using the paddle attachment. Voila, shredded meat in the blink of an eye.
Slow-Cooker Asian Pork Tacos with Red Cabbage Slaw
Makes 4 servings
1 large navel orange
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 T low-sodium soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 T grated fresh ginger (or more)
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 (2.5 lb) pork shoulder, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 T olive oil
1/2 small head red cabbage
1 medium carrot
8 small flour tortillas
Chopped peanuts, fresh cilantro, and fresh mint, optional, for garnish
- Using a vegetable peeler, remove 4 strips of zest from the orange (reserve the orange). In a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker, whisk together the vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, red pepper, and orange zest.
- Add the pork and toss to coat. Cook, covered, until the pork is tender and shreds easily, 7 to 8 hours on LOW or 4 to 5 hours on HIGH.
- Thirty minutes before serving, make the slaw. Squeeze the juice from the orange into a large bowl (you should have about 1/2 cup). Whisk in the oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Core and thinly slice the cabbage. Cut the carrot into matchsticks. Add the vegetables to the vinaigrette and toss to combine.
- Warm the tortillas according to package directions. Using two forks, shred the pork into large pieces (or use the mixer, see note above). Pour the cooking liquid into a small saucepan. Allow to settle, and skim the fat with a spoon. Cook on medium-high until boiling; allow to boil for 5-10 minutes or until reduced by about 1/3 to 1/2, and flavorful. Gently toss the meat with the reduced liquid. Fill the tortillas with the pork mixture and top with the slaw. Garnish with peanuts, mint, and/or cilantro, if desired.