I have no time at all for pretty much everything. This includes making sure the kids have clean uniforms, remembering to pack lunches, and getting a chance to wash my hair. If all or any of these things happen during any given week, it’s reason to celebrate.
Even though I work outside of the home three days of the week only, I have two other jobs I do in my “spare” (hahahaha funny!) time from home. I also have quite a lot of small children. I love to cook, but I have no time during the week to make anything terribly interesting. Dinner ends up being thrown together in a panic, or we end up feeding the kids something quick then feeding ourselves after they go to bed. Ideally, I’d love us to all sit around the table and share a meal. (Preferably without arguing or fart jokes, but I’ll settle for a meal at the same time of day to begin with.)
If I was one of those organised mums you read about in glossy magazines, I would prepare the entire week’s meals on the weekend, neatly label them, and place them in my beautifully defrosted freezer. In reality, I’m lucky if I can get a bag of peas in between the 7” of frost. I loved Jamie Oliver’s “30 Minute Meals” television programme and the book is great, but they are only ready in 30 minutes if you happen to have a prep team and sous chef hanging around in your kitchen. Nice idea in theory, though.
My saviour has been my trusty slow cooker. Chuck stuff in the crock pot in the morning and hey presto, dinner’s ready when I get home. It’s like magic. Magic in the form of a 70s appliance. Our current favourites are chilli, chicken tikka masala, and this amazing slow cooked pork taco recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/
I love anything involving pig – it’s cheap, tasty, and it gives us bacon. Pork shoulder has been half price over the last few weeks, so I’ve been stocking up and putting them in the freezer (which is the only time I have anything remotely “plan ahead” in my freezer.) If you do use a frozen joint, make sure you put it in the fridge around 2 days before you stick it in the slow cooker. A large joint like this will take a while to defrost and you don’t want to put it in the slow cooker frozen. If you do, you’ll need to tack on much more cooking time.
This recipe involves a lot of ingredients you can’t get easily in the UK. If you can’t find the chillies used in this recipe, you can use whatever dried ones you can find (Tesco often has chipotle chillies in their world foods section, for example.) It looks like a bit of a fuss with the frying step, but it makes a big difference to the flavour. You can absolutely make this without frying the spices, but the flavour won’t be as deep and intense.
I serve this as tacos for the kids, and my husband and I have this on salad with a big pile of guacamole, salsa, and fresh lime squeezed on top. This makes a lot of pork, so it’s a good one to feed a crowd.
Slow Cooker Pork Tacos
3 whole ancho chilies
3 whole pasilla chiles
4 cloves garlic, unpeeled
2 to 3 chipotles in adobo sauce
1/2 medium white onion, roughly chopped
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp cider vinegar
2 tsp dried oregano, preferably Mexican
3 3/4 cups chicken broth
4 lbs boneless pork shoulder (untrimmed), cut into chunks
Freshly ground pepper
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
Corn tortillas, warmed, for serving
Assorted taco toppings, for garnish
Put the ancho and pasilla chilies and the garlic in a bowl and add 2 to 3 tablespoons of water. Microwave on high until soft and pliable, about 2 to 3 minutes. Stem and seed the chilies and peel the garlic.
Transfer the chilies, garlic, chipotles, onion, 2 tablespoons olive oil, honey, vinegar, 1 tablespoon salt and the oregano to the blender; puree until smooth.
Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over high heat; add the chili sauce and fry, stirring, until thick and fragrant, about 8 minutes. Pour in the broth and reduce until slightly thickened.
Season the pork all over with salt and pepper and transfer to a large slow cooker. Add the bay leaves and cinnamon stick, then pour in the sauce. Cover and cook on high until the meat is tender for about 5 hours, or cook on low for 8-9 hours.