When you want a home cooked dinner ready at a moment’s notice, this strategy with All-Purpose Braised Pork Shoulder will get you through many a busy evening. Pork not your thing? This same strategy and all of the ‘recipes’ work beautifully with my Magic Chicken recipe.
Sure we love to cook. Sometimes though, you need dinner ready to go. Making a double batch of lasagna and freezing one is all well and good but this recipe is infinitely variable giving you flexibility when you need it most. It’s one dish transformed into five, or however many you want make out if it.
This can be made in a slow cooker, pressure cooker, Dutch oven on the stove or braised in the oven. I have a six quart slow cooker so I cook 5 pounds of pork shoulder more or less.
Speaking of pork shoulder, let’s talk nomenclature.
Pork Shoulder = Pork Butt = Boston Butt
If the thought of eating a pig’s hindquarters freaks you out, no worries these three labels are exactly the same cut and it is from the shoulder. The reason the term pork butt came to be is because in old English (shout out Kristen) from the German influence came the word ‘butt’ which meant ‘the widest part’. The widest part of the pig is the shoulder, hence the naming. And why my behind is called a butt.
Start with your pork shoulder, bone in or boneless, and whatever stew or roast flavorings you like. You can do the regular potatoes, carrots and onion with bay and thyme, or mix it up and use red bell peppers, onion, thyme and rosemary. The first night you’ll be having it as it is, so use flavors that you like then serve over rice, potatoes, polenta, or whatever starch you like.
The best part is, there’s no cutting the pork into cubes. There’s no browning everything in a sauté pan before you put it in your cooker. It’s just put it all in and move on to other things.
After that you can transform this delicious tender pork into a myriad of dinners.
Pasta – Cook a penne/rotini/rigatoni type pasta and drain. Return to pot, add pork, a splash of wine, a dollop of plain greek yogurt or sour cream and some parmesan cheese. Heat gently.
Enchiladas – Fill tortillas with pork, roll tightly and put in an oven safe baking dish. Top with any prepared enchilada sauce, or a can of tomato sauce mixed with cumin and chili powder. Top with cheese and bake until hot.
Hash – Microwave a potato until soft. Sauté with onion and bell pepper and then add pork. Make a hole in the middle and cook a fried egg.
Green Chile Stew – in a saucepan heat pork with some chicken broth, a couple cans of diced green chiles and diced potato. Simmer until potato is tender.
Chili – in a saucepan heat pork with canned tomatoes (undrained), canned beans (drained), cumin and chili powder.
Tacos – Sauté pork in some oil until browned and edges are crisp. Fill flour or corn tortillas, top pork with any fruit salsa, regular salsa, salsa verde etc.
Burritos – fill large flour tortillas with pork, cooked rice, canned drained beans and season with cumin and chili powder. Bake or microwave until hot.
BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches – toss pork with bbq sauce and serve on toasted buns or bread. Throw some slaw on it and there you’ve got your vegetable.
Sloppy Joes – toss pork with equal parts ketchup and tomato sauce and a little chili powder and serve on toasted buns or bread.
Are any of these ‘recipes’ going to earn you the respect of Gordon Ramsey that you so richly deserve? No, but that’s not the point. These are all solid dinners that are fast, homemade and inexpensive. Tweak to your taste and you might just have your new go-to favorite.
- 5 pounds +/- pork shoulder/butt
- Salt and Pepper
- 10 cloves of garlic, peeled
- 2 cans of diced tomatoes
- 1 large onion, sliced or slivered
- 2 red, orange or yellow bell peppers, sliced
- 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 6 sprigs fresh thyme
- Salt and pepper all sides of pork and put in slow cooker, dutch oven or pressure cooker.
- Add everything else.
- Slow cooker: cook on low 6 ½ hours or until completely tender.
- Stovetop pressure cooker: bring to high pressure and cook for 75 minutes. Time may need to be adjusted for size of pork and electric pressure cookers.
- Stovetop: Put everything into a Dutch oven. Add water to 2 inches. When boiling, reduce heat to medium low to maintain a simmer and cover. Check occasionally to make sure there’s enough liquid. Timing depends on size, it will take about an hour per pound.
- Oven: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put everything into an oven safe Dutch oven. Add water to 2 inches. When boiling, cover and put in oven for about 5 hours until tender.