I bought my first slow cooker around the same time I quit sugar. As I ventured into what was virgin territory, I found the easiest way to eat simply and sustainably was with this nifty kitchen device. A slow cooker is sustainable in every sense. It’s super economical, energy-efficient, convenient and makes things tastier. Cooking secondary cuts of meat, like pork shoulder, in a slow cooker can result in the most succulent, melt-in-the-mouth dish.
- 1-1.5 kg piece of pork shoulder (preferably bone in) or neck
- 1½ tsp whole black peppercorns
- 2 tsp whole fennel seeds
- 3 tsp smoked paprika
- 3 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp all-spice or ground cinnamon
- 2 tsp ground chilli or chilli flakes
- 2 bay leaves
- 150 ml red wine or stock, any type
- 75 ml apple cider vinegar
- 2 tomatoes, chopped into quarters
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- ½ head cauliflower, broken into small florets
- 160 ml cream
- 1 tbsp butter
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Marinating time 2 hours or overnight
You will need a slow-cooker for this recipe. The dish can be cooked on a low temperature for 8 hours or a high temperature for 4 hours.
The night before, grind fennel and peppercorns with a mortar and pestle or blender. Add salt and other spices, except for the bay leaves, and mix. Rub the lot over the meat, rubbing well into the fatty bits. Really get your fingers into the meat, massaging it all over. Place the lot in the slow cooker insert, then cover and place in the fridge for at least 2 hours, or overnight for a stronger flavour.
In the morning, place insert in the slow cooker and add rest of ingredients. Cook on low setting for 8 hours or high for 4 hours. When the pork has 20 minutes to go, place the cauliflower, cream and butter in a saucepan, season to taste with salt and cook over low heat for 15-20 minutes. Once the cauliflower has softened, blend with a stick blender or use a potato masher until smooth.
Take out the pork, place on a dish and use two forks to “pull” the meat apart into shreds. Put the shreds back in the slow cooker for another 20 minutes, with the sauce. Continue cooking on high uncovered until heated through.
Photography by Marija Ivkovic. Recipe and image from Planet to Plate: The Earth Hour Cookbook (available online, $40, hbk).