Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Slow Cooker Pepper Orange Pork Stew

When I know my day will be too busy to make a decent meal (and I can't justify going out for dinner) I often rely on my trusty slow cooker to save the day. 

On Sunday, our day was packed with Nutcracker rehearsal for the Boy in the morning, followed by an outing at the Science Centre. I knew we wouldn't be back until 6, and by that time no one would feel like cooking, or waiting for food. 

Using what I had on hand, and making a few changes, I adapted this recipe from The Complete Canadian Living Cookbook:

This is my go-to cookbook for everything. I received it as a gift in 2001 and have consistently used it since then. I have SHELVES of cookbooks, but this one is by far the most useful. [By the way, this is not a sponsored post, but if anyone at Canadian Living is reading this, I'd wouldn't refuse a subscription renewal! :) ]

On with the stew!

I started with 2 large red peppers and 1 large knife. [I don't mess around with knives.]
Chop them into bite size pieces and set aside. 
Next, chop 1 large onion. Add to the peppers. 
Chop up about 850g of pork. The recipe calls for 2lbs/1kg of shoulder  butt. I used pork loin for two reasons. Less fat = less prep and it's what I had on hand. :) The recipe also calls to brown the meat in oil. I used a non-stick pan and no oil and reduced the fat as well.  Once the meat is browned/seared, dump it into the crock pot.
Add the veggies to the pan and brown those as well. These steps can be omitted.  If you'd like, forget the browning part completely and just dump everything into the crock pot and turn it on. I like the extra flavour it gives when browning first. 
I added 6 cloves of slivered garlic into the pan. I'm using my handing garlic shaver.  Works like a dream.  The garlic  is paper thin and nearly completely dissolves in whatever you're making. 
Cook veggies until they just start to wilt, then add them to your slow cooker.

The recipe calls for a cup of broth, which I didn't have ready. So I cheated and used half  a bouillon cube and a cup of water. 
I added a couple turns of a coarse salt/rosemary mix.
I also threw in some extra asparagus spears that were left over from the quiche I made to take with us to the Science centre. 
Next, the recipe asks for tomato paste, but I didn't have any of that either. [Notice a theme here?] Luckily I  DID have some diced tomatoes that my mother put up this summer. I threw in about 2.5cups. 

Next for the orange bit. I grated the rind of one orange with my microplane, right into the slow cooker. 
Followed chunks of peeled orange and some rubbed sage. 

Give everything a good mix...
Turn on low and enjoy the rest of the day!
By the time we got home, I was tired and not thinking. [Surprise, surprise.] I just cooked up some basmati rice (I have a microwave rice cooker - perfect rice in less than 20 minutes) and fed the brood. I didn't even think about taking a picture. :S However, the reviews were mixed. My husband and I loved it, but the kids were not too keen on the orange flavour. I'll probably make this again, but without the orange.

What do you make when you know you won't have time to cook? What is your favourite slow-cooker recipe? Do you plan your meals or fly by the strings of your apron?

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