Summer cooking is often about trying to not heat up the kitchen any more than necessary. A slow-cooker adds some heat but certainly not as much as the oven. You could even set the slow-cooker up in the basement or garage if you really wanted to keep the heat out of the kitchen.
Slow-cooker Pulled Pork with Barbecue Sauce
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 10 1/2 hours
- 10 lb. pork should, skin removed
- 1/2 cup Alton Brown’s Rub Number Nine, divided
- 1 cup orange juice
- 1 cup ketchup
- 1/2 cup chili sauce
- Rub the pork shoulder all over with 1/4 cup of the dry rub. Place in the slow-cooker. Add the orange juice. Cover and cook for 10 hours.
- When the time is up transfer the pork shoulder to a cutting board and allow it to rest for 15-20 minutes. While it rests combine the ketchup, chili sauce, remaining dry rub and 1 cup of the liquid in the slow-cooker in a small sauce pan. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes until sauce reduces to about 1 1/2 cups.
- When the pork is cook enough to handle start shredding the meat. I pull a large piece off the shoulder with tongs and then use 2 forks to shred it. Place shredded meat in a large bowl.
- When all the meat is shredded ladle about 1/2 cup of sauce and 1/2 cup of liquid from the slow-cooker over the meat. Toss the meat in the sauce and serve.
I flipped the pork shoulder every 2 hours in the slow-cooker.
This could be made a day or two in advance. Pull the meat as above and stash the cooled meat in a large zip top bag. Strain the liquid in the slow-cooker and save that separately. To reheat: Place the meat in an oven-safe dish, add a cup of the slow-cooker liquid and cover the dish with foil. Heat in a 200°F oven for 15-20 minutes. Make the barbecue sauce while the pork reheats and toss the heated meat with the sauce when you are ready to serve.
If you are more ambitious, or just plan ahead, you can prep and rub the pork shoulder 24 hours in advance, wrap it in plastic wrap and stash it in the fridge. This will give the sugar and salt in the rub an extended bit of time to do it’s magic in seasoning the meat.
We were introduced to achiote via chef Daisy Martinez‘s cooking show, Daisy Cooks!. Achiote (also called annatto) seeds provide an earthy flavor. One of the more common ways to use them is to make a flavored oil that will impart a yellow-orange color to the dishes it is used in (think yellow rice).
Achiote Grilled Chicken Thighs
Prep time: 2 hours
Total time: 2 hours 30 minutes
- 5 Tbsp. achiote (annatto) seeds
- 1 Tbsp. black peppercorns
- 2 tsp. cumin seeds
- 1/2 tsp. whole cloves
- 8 whole allspice berries
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1/2 cup white vinegar
- 8 cloves garlic, smashed
- 2 Tbsp. fine salt
- 5 lemons, juiced
- 4 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- Combine the annatto, peppercorns, cumin seeds, cloves and allspice berries in a spice grinder or clean coffee grinder. Grind to a fine powder.
- In a blender jar combine the spice blend you just ground with all the other ingredients except the lemon and chicken. Blend until smooth.
- Add the lemon juice; pulse to combine. This is your marinade. Set aside.
- Trim the excess fat off of your chicken thighs. Transfer thighs to a large resealable plastic bag. Add the marinade. Squeeze out as much air as possible and seal. Refrigerate for 2-4 hours.
- About 45 minutes before you want to eat light your gas grill, setting all burners on high and close the lid. Allow to heat for 15 minutes.
- Scrape any residue from past grilling off the grill and lubricate with 4 or 5 passes of vegetable oil on a paper towel.
- Place chicken thighs on the grill, skin(less) side down. Close the lid and cook for 5 minutes.
- Flip the chicken and cook for an additional 4-5 minutes. Remove when the internal temperature of a thigh is 160°F. An instant read thermometer is very helpful here.
- Serve as is or cut into pieces to use for chicken tacos.
Throw out the marinade after putting the chicken on the grill. It’s tainted with raw chicken nastiness.
If the marinade is a bit grainy you can brush off the excess spice mix before grilling. We didn’t bother and it didn’t affect the results as best we can tell.
I found achiote (annatto) seeds in my grocery store in the baking aisle along with the other spices. We’ve also purchased them in the past from Penzeys.
I combined the ideas from a couple of online recipes to come up with this one. Check out this one or this one for inspiration.
In the fall one of my weeknight go-to meals is soup. It’s mostly a combine and simmer effort which is perfect after a day at work and the diminishing light of the day.
Black Bean Soup
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 75 minutes
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1/2 medium red onion, 1/4″ dice
- 2 Tbsp. dark brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp. chili powder
- 1 Tbsp. ground cumin
- 1 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
- 1 tsp. minced garlic
- 1 14.5 oz. can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
- 1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
- 1 6 oz. can tomato paste
- 2 cup chicken broth
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 2 15 oz. cans black beans, drained and rinsed
- kosher salt and black pepper
- yogurt, diced avocado, chopped cilantro (optional)
- Heat oil in a dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add onions and a generous pinch of salt. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes until tender. Add brown sugar, spices and garlic. Stir to combine and heat until fragrant; 1 to 2 minutes.
- Add tomato products, broth and orange juice. Stir until tomato paste is incorporated. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add black beans, stir to incorporate and cook for 20 more minutes. Beans should be heated through and slightly softened.
- Taste for seasoning; adjust if needed. Serve with in a bowl with your choice of toppings.
This recipe is based on one I found while sorting through the stack of recipes that get printed out, made once and forgotten. I’ve tweaked the original recipe to match my preferences and written up my version of the instructions.
The original recipe apparently came from Southern Living magazine circa 2008.