How was everyone’s weekend? We ran all over, catching up with several different friends and with M’s mum, now that she has returned from her vacation. On Friday, we started with seeing several of my friends from high school, gathering to watch the new documentary on the making of Hamilton (yep, still obsessed!) I thought the documentary was very well put together and it was awesome to see a few more clips from the show. I’m sure it will still be many years before M and I get to see it–ticket prices are absurd and the first national tour doesn’t look to be any more accessible. Even so, I thought the documentary was very good and it was even better to catch up with my friends. I don’t see them nearly as often as I should. On Saturday after work, we visited M’s mum to hear about her latest vacation. She and her sister RV’ed around the Southwestern U.S. and had a grand old time! We pulled together a meal out of our fridges–I made a sort-of onion panade from the leftovers of French Onion Soup and some homemade bread. It’s all the right flavors, at least. And M’s mum had lamb chops, green beans, and polenta stashed in her freezer. Everything came together in a not-too-disjointed-and-definitely-delicious way.
Sometimes, those thrown together meals are the best ones. It isn’t so hard to “eat from the pantry”. Have you tried? I try to stick with a $50 weekly grocery budget for M and myself (including my weekly $15 veggie box). I have varying success, so whenever I find my mid-week grocery trips/my grocery grocery spending starting to climb, I will have us eat from the pantry for a week. It saves money and it makes me remember how much food we already have! I’ve done it to clear out some freezer space and this week, we are eating from the pantry because I had to spend a little too much on car repairs this month. I did keep my weekly Hungry Harvest box, which allowed us some fresh fruits and vegetables. Those are the hardest to ‘give up’ for these eat from the pantry weeks. And, since our freezer and pantry were already full with a few cuts of meat and many different grains, we are eating well. I made us a loaf of bread from the flours I had on hand, and we have been all set. Already this week, we’ve had Eggs Benedict and crab cakes with salad and roasted potatoes. Upcoming on my dinner plans are Roasted Tomato+Pesto Pasta, Crockpot Chicken Pho, and BBQ Meatballs with Yellow Squash Cornbread. The leftovers will get us through the other nights and be used for my lunches and we have eggs, oatmeal, and yogurt for breakfast. All this without spending anything at the grocery store this week. (To give you some context, our harvest box had the yellow squash, tomatoes, romaine, and potatoes that I am using in our dinners. It also had some fruit that I will have with breakfast and lunch.)
As work ramps up and I move towards the end of the semester with my classes, I am trying to be better about using my crockpot at least once per week. Not only is it suited perfectly for Fall dishes, it saves me time for homework and/or working late shifts. Two weeks ago, I perfected this Crockpot Coconut Braised Pork which can be turned into ultra delicious sandwiches! We had this at the Saxapahaw General Store (and continue to get it every time we visit) and fell totally in love with this juicy pork paired with vinegary pickled vegetables. I like to save up a few dollar here and there from my shopping trips until I can buy a big boneless pork butt/shoulder every few months. Buying a 5-10 lb cut will likely have the meat priced cheaply. When I get home, I portion it into 2-3 lb pieces and stick them in the freezer. This is the perfect cut for making shredded pork dishes in the crock pot, like this Coconut Braised Pork for sandwiches, Sweet Pork Barbacoa for tacos, or Citrus Pork for chilaquiles. Pork butt/shoulder is a great stock-up item!
Crockpot Coconut Braised Pork
Serves: 4-6 | Prep time: 15 minutes | Cook time: 8 hours on low (crockpot)
- 2.5 lbs pork shoulder/butt
- 1 can (15-16 oz) coconut milk
- 1/3 yellow onion
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp. curry powder (I used hot madras curry)
- 1-2 Tbsp. sriracha sauce
- 1/4 c. fish sauce
- 1 Tbsp dried cilantro
- salt & pepper
- 1 cucumber
- 1/2 red onion
- 1/2 c. rice vinegar
- 1 Tbsp salt
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 1/2 c. water
- spicy mayo/yum-yum sauce
- gluten-free buns
Prep the Pork & Vegetables
Heavy a heavy-bottomed pan or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Slice the yellow onion and peel and crush the garlic cloves. Add to the crockpot with the coconut milk, curry powder, sriracha, fish sauce, and cilantro. Stir to combine the ingredients. Coat the hot pan with a dollop of oil and place the pork in the pan to sear. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then allow to sear for 2 minutes on every side. Add the pork to the crockpot (it should be mostly covered, but not entirely covered by the coconut milk mixture). Cover with the crockpot lid and cook for 8 hours on low heat.
Slice the red onion thinly and pack into a half-pint jar. Thinly slice the cucumber into coins and pack into a second half-pint jar. Mix the rice vinegar, water, sugar, and salt until the sugar and salt completely dissolve. Pour this mixture over the packed vegetables. Close jars and place in fridge to marinate while the pork cooks.
Make the sandwiches
After eight hours, the pork should have a lovely crust where it was not covered by the coconut milk. Remove the pork from the crockpot to a plate with tongs–it should already pull apart quite easily. Gently pull the pork into smaller, bite sized pieces. Spoon a little of the coconut mixture from the crockpot over the shredded pork.
On a toasted bun, add the spicy mayo, shredded pork, then a liberal amount of pickled cucumbers and a few slices of pickled onions. Some fresh herbs like cilantro or basil might also be delicious here. Enjoy! (Pork should keep in the fridge for 3-4 days–add some more of the coconut mixture to keep it from drying out!)