Some days I know are going to be ridiculously hectic before they even start. The baby wakes up on the wrong side of bed and won’t be put down, the youngest girl gets jealous at all the attention we’re paying to the baby and throws a fit, the teenagers thrust paperwork they forgot to have us sign in our faces, and oh by the way, it’s back-to-school night and we two parents need to be at three different schools all at once. These are the days when I need a miracle.
That miracle frequently comes in the form of pulled pork in the slow cooker. When I just can’t even think, I know this will work. Ten minutes of prep time — choose some herbs, slice the onion, and season the meat — yields a delicious main dish. When we finally make it home, it is easy peasy to put together the meal: shred the pork, zap some sweet potatoes in the microwave, quickly add a green salad, and dinner is ready to go.
Quick, fast and in a yesterday hurry, as my mama says.
Fennel is a big favorite of mine; its licorice-y flavor goes beautifully with bacon and other fatty meats. While I used the greens from Italian-style bulb fennel, those from bronze fennel are equally tasty, if a bit milder. Of course, if you can’t stand the thought of fennel, try sage or rosemary instead.
Pork loin is a delicious, inexpensive cut of meat that stands up to prolonged cooking and is mild enough that it lets the herbs’ flavor shine. I love its versatility and affordability; with two hungry teens to feed, our food budget can use all the help it can get.
This recipe makes enough for plenty of leftovers. Pulled pork is great on its own the first day, but is even better the next day when the flavors have really settled. Use the meat in salads, lettuce or veggie wraps, and casseroles.
- 1 bulb fennel with greens attached
- 1 medium onion
- 5 pounds pork loin
- 5-10 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon black pepper, freshly ground
- Wash the fennel and shake it dry. Chop off the greens from one or two stalks (this is roughly two tablespoons of greens); lay them in the bottom of a slow cooker. Reserve remainder of fennel for another use.
- Peel onion; slice into rings. Place them atop the fennel greens.
- Rinse the pork loin and pat dry with a paper towel. Insert the garlic cloves into the pork loin (use more or fewer cloves according to your taste). Salt and pepper the meat until it is lightly coated with seasonings.
- Set the slow cooker to cook for 8-10 hours on low. The meat is done when it falls apart at a touch.
- Using two forks, gently separate the pieces of pork into small chunks. Plate and serve.