Back in Maryland my mind would wander to crock pot cooking when the days got shorter and the nights got cooler. Come fall and winter I would get a yearning for flavorful slow cooked chowders and stews. Here in Texas, however, I am turning to my crock pot when the sunny days are longer and the nights are hotter. Although the temperature does reach and surpass 90 degrees in the North East, while living there I never embraced my crock pot as a way to avoid turning on the oven during warm summer days.
Starting my third summer in Texas has forced me to rethink my slow cooker, but when I browsed the 'crock pot' section of my recipe file, I found that it is filled with winter fare. Now I am on a search for more seasonally appropriate crock pot recipes. I ran across a page that I had ripped from a Real Simple magazine for Pulled Pork Tacos. This recipe calls for baking a boneless pork shoulder in the oven, but it is easily converted to cooking a pork loin in the crock pot. Although for years I have been a follow-the-recipe-to-the-letter type of girl, I am gradually starting to be a bit more experimental and free in the kitchen. My 13 year old daughter has always been extremely adventurous while cooking, so she often encourages me to branch out a bit. This recipe gave me the perfect opportunity to be less instructed and more inspired.
My inspiration paid off because my family and I loved our dinner of Pulled Pork Tacos. The meal was different enough from our normal taco night to impress my daughter and husband, but familiar enough to my sons that it didn't scare them away. I served the pulled pork with warm soft tortillas, Creamy Jalapeño Dip, shredded cheddar cheese, wedges of lime, and a variety of chopped veggies. Even better than the successful dinner was the fact that my kitchen stayed cool thanks to my new summer friend, the crock pot.
Crock Pot Pulled Pork Tacos Recipe
2 to 2 1/2 pound boneless pork loin
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 to 2 jalapeños, sliced into rings and seeded
1 red onion, roughly chopped
1/2 cup water
1 cup apricot jam or preserves
A variety of taco accoutrement such as shredded cheese, lime wedges, thinly sliced yellow and orange peppers, shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, sour cream, pinto beans, etc.
1. Spray crock pot with cooking spray. Place chopped jalapeños and red onions in bottom of crock pot. Add 1/2 cup water.
2. Rub pork roast with salt, pepper, and cumin. Place rubbed roast on top of onions and jalapeños in crock pot. Pour apricot jam or preserves on top of roast and spread to cover.
3. Put the lid on the crock pot and cook for 4 to 6 hours or until internal temperature of meat is 200 degrees and meat is easily shredded.
4. Remove meat from crock pot and place it on a large platter. Using 2 forks shred the pork, cutting any large chunks with a knife. Return shredded pork to crock pot.
5. Strain onions, jalapeños, and juice from crock pot. Discard onions and jalapeños. Pour juice back over meat. Stir to coat and cook meat on low for an additional hour. Test for seasoning and add salt or pepper as needed.
6. Serve shredded pork with soft tortillas and your favorite taco toppings.
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