I learned 3 things during the course of cooking this recipe: You can cook a pork shoulder for 2 days in a slow cooker and not die of food poisoning. Yay! (I actually have no idea if that’s sanitary, but I kept forgetting to eat it.) Next, I learned that when you buy pork shoulders at the Latin market, you have to cut the skin of the pig off yourself. Gross. Thirdly, when you cook pork like this, don’t forget the onions like I did. Oops.
Pork shoulders are some of the cheaper, more delicious cuts of a pig. I had about 3-4 servings for roughly $5, and was able to make a big pot of stock (or gravy) as well.
Put a pork shoulder or roast in a slow cooker. I added about a head’s worth of garlic cloves, a few stalks of celery, salt, pepper, paprika, rosemary and sage. I recommend chopping up at least 1 onion to put in here too. I didn’t have any.
Fill it to the top with water or stock. You can cook this anywhere from 2-8 hours (or 2 1/2 days like me). You can also put the shoulder in the oven, cover it, cook it at whatever temperature you want and cook it for as long as you want, and it will STILL be awesome. As long as you’ve got water or stock in your pan, you’re good.
Did you notice how much freedom I just gave you? Pork will set you free, I tell you. You can cook the snot out of it and will still be delicious because it’s PORK! It’s surrounded by fat! It’s nearly impossible to screw it up.
After it’s done cooking for the amount of time that you prefer (vague, much), take it out and set it aside. Mmmmm…. it literally fell apart and melted in my mouth.
Take out all of the big guts from the pot…
…or strain them so you get ALL of the pieces out. You can throw them away or use however you want. If you still have way too much juice, feel free to boil this stuff down WITH the bones and guts, and throw it away later. Make sense?
Rinse your quinoa in a fine strainer with cold water, or rinse in the pot you’re cooking it in if you don’t have a fine strainer.
Remember this: 1 parts quinoa to 2 parts liquid.
You could technically cook the quinoa with water, but why would you? You’ve got a big bowl of ridiculously flavorful pork stock, man!
You cook it just like rice. Bring it to a boil, give it a stir, turn it to low, put a lid on it, don’t take the lid off for a while. *Note about quinoa: People say that it only takes like 10 minutes to cook… which may be technically correct. But I would recommend allowing a good 20-25 minutes for the total process.*
When you don’t cook quinoa long enough, it’s a little crunchy. If you let it steam for a little longer, it’s beautiful and fluffy. Keep cooking till it’s fluffy–and if you need more liquid in it to make it fluffy…well, put some more in.
So, you should have a pot of juices left over, unless it evaporated in the cooking process, which is okay. If you had as much juices as I did, you’ve got 3 choices, from what I can tell:
1) Freeze the stock for later.
2) Cook it down a lot and put the condensed juices on top of the pork when you serve it.
3) Make delicious gravy.
I chose #3. Don’t judge me. You can do whatever you feel is right in your heart. Can I just say, though, that people give gravy a bad wrap but not all gravy is terrible for you. Sure, there’s some fat in here, but it’s mostly the water that I put in there initially. And a tablespoon or two of flour is not the end of the world. At least you know what you’re eating!
Soooo if you’re going to make gravy, it is SO EASY. Get a bowl and a whisk. Add about 1 part flour to 2 parts cold water (I usually do about 2 T. flour to 4 T. cold water.) Whisk it till it’s mixed.
Pour in the milky-ish liquid and whisk, whisk, whisk until it’s all incorporated.
Put a portion of quinoa in the ring and gently pack it in with a spoon (or just put it on your plate, whatever).
Put a portion of the pulled pork on top.
Take the ring off, if you’re using them.
Pour some of the juices or your gravy stuff on top.
If you’re awesome like my roommate and have your own herb garden, put a sprig of fresh parsley or rosemary on top. Yum!
1 Pork Shoulder: $5.05 = 4 servings
Head of garlic: $.62 = 4 servings
1 Pork serving: $1.26
1 portion garlic: $.15
1 serving quinoa: $.47
1/5 stalk of celery: $.16
1 Serving: $2.05