In my fantasy life, I sleep in as late as I want, spend the morning reading magazines, and spend my afternoons crafting delicious homemade three-course dinners. Unfortunately I don't live in fantasy land, and I know as much as anyone that cooking during the week can be a struggle. Luckily, I grew up with a working mom who taught me a thing or two about getting dinner on the table, even when a meal from a Haagen Daazs carton seems like it'll suffice.
Enter the crock pot. Those 50's housewives were onto something, because the crock pot is foolproof. Prep your meat, turn it on, and walk away. There's no flame or gas, so you can literally leave the house for hours, and come home to a delicious finished dinner. When I flipped to this recipe in this month's crock pot recipe in Real Simple, I had to wipe my drool. The pork shoulder has a rich "falling off the bone" texture, and the sweet and spicy flavors balance perfectly with the braised bok choy. Not bad for a day at the office.
Start with a big hunk o' pork shoulder. This one had a bone in it, but the meat will fall off the bone once it's done slow-roasting. Use a sharp knife to remove any fatty areas from the roast.
Now prep your sauce. Soy sauce, brown sugar, Sriracha, ginger, Chinese five-spice, salt, pepper.
Now pay close attention, because this is where things get very complicated...
Put your meat in the sauce. Put the lid on. Turn your crock pot to low. And go about your business for 7 to 8 hours.
Fast forward to 5pm. Your house smells delicious, and your meat is literally falling off the bone. Turn off the crock pot, and finish up the dish.
I cooked up some brown rice, but you could use white rice or instant if that's your thing.
Now pull the meat out of the crock pot and stick it right on top of the rice. I put mine in a 200 degree oven while I finished the sauce.
Bok choy has a clean green flavor that contrasts perfectly with the meaty richness of the pork. Rinse and vertically slice it.
Personally, when it comes to Asian food, I'm a sucker for those thick sauces that induce food coma. The juice in the crock pot was more of an au-jus, so I wanted to reduce it down. Reducing liquid sounds more intimidating than it is. All you do is heat the liquid until it simmers, and stir until it's the consistency you want.
Once your sauce is your desired thickness, add the bok choy and simmer for another few minutes until it wilts.
Pour the finished sauce over the rice and pork, and top with chopped green onions. Mmmmm! And you didn't even have to tip a delivery guy.
Sweet and Spicy Asian Pork Shoulder
1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons chili-garlic sauce (I used Sriracha)
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
kosher salt and black pepper
2 1/2 pounds pork shoulder, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 cup brown rice
1 medium head bok choy, thinly sliced (about 8 cups)
2 scallions, sliced
In a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker*, combine the soy sauce, sugar, chili-garlic sauce, ginger, five-spice powder, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Add the pork and toss to coat. Cook, covered, until the pork is tender, on high for 4 to 5 hours or on low for 7 to 8 hours.
Twenty-five minutes before serving, cook the rice according to the package directions.
Remove the pork from the sauce, and skim off and discard any fat from the sauce. Keep the pork warm, and put the sauce in a pot on the stove. Simmer the sauce until it reaches your desired thickness. Gently fold the bok choy into the sauce and cook until heated through, 2 to 4 minutes. Serve with the rice and sprinkle with the scallions.
*Note: My slow cooker is 2.5 quarts, and this recipe worked just fine.