How was your Thanksgiving?! Ours was fantastic. The weather here in the midwest has been beautiful and Thanksgiving was a really beautiful and warm day. The cooking all went almost seamlessly and the company was even better!
This week, we'll be working with pork. We're making Cranberry Orange Pork Loin, Sweet Pork (for burritos or salads), BBQ shredded pork (for sandwiches), and plain shredded pork for anything else in the future.
You can buy a few different types of pork: chops, loin, or roast. Of course, there are more options than just those, but those are what I work with. I rarely buy chops because I just buy a loin and cut it into chops, leaving a section as a loin. It's cheaper and works just as well. As for a roast, the only cut I'll buy is a shoulder. It is extremely fatty, but it is the most tender and works beautifully in anything that requires shredded pork. For this week's meals, you'll need one shoulder and two pork loins. Some butcher departments at grocery stores and warehouses will cut your loin into chops for you. If yours does that, have them cut half of each loin into chops and leave the other half as a loin.
We'll start with the shoulder, since it needs to cook in the CrockPot for a long time. Remove the shoulder from the bag and defat as much as you'd like. Place meat in CrockPot and add 1 cup water, salt, and pepper. Cover and let cook 5-7 hours on low or until completely tender and shreddable. Remove from CrockPot and shred, removing as much fat as possible. Allow to cool.
Now we'll move onto the Cranberry Orange Pork Loin. Place one loin each in two gallon sized ziplock freezer bags. Write the weight of the loin on the bag so you'll know how long to cook it when the time comes. Next, mix together the sauce ingredients in a medium saucepan, simmer over medium heat (stirring often), and remove from heat to cool. When the sauce has cooled adequately, divide into two quart sized freezer bags. Place one quart sized bag in each of the gallon bags and freeze.
CRANBERRY ORANGE PORK LOIN
1 pork loin
1 ½ cup cranberry sauce
¾ cup orange juice
¼ + 1/8 cup packed brown sugar
Zest from 1 orange
To cook, allow loin to thaw completely. Place in greased baking dish. Preheat oven to 500 degrees (no, that is not a typo). Pour approximately 1/3 cup of the sauce over the top of the loin. Place in preheated oven and set timer for 6 minutes per pound. When the timer rings, turn the oven OFF and DO NOT OPEN THE DOOR for one hour. After one hour, remove from oven and let sit for 10 mintues before slicing. Serve with warmed sauce as a glaze. If baking with potatoes, bake potatoes, covered, for entire baking time of roast. Do not open oven once roast has begun cooking.
Returning to that shoulder, separate into three bowls. You'll want 2-3 cups of pork in each bag, depending on how many people are in your family. I find my shoulders produce about 15-18 cups of pork (these are big shoulders...), so I can get between 5-8 bags of meat out of them. I would plan on 2 or 3 bags of Sweet Pork, 2 bags of BBQ pork, and 2 bags of plain pork. But that's because sweet pork is one of our favorite meals. Adjust as you'd like.
In one bowl, add BBQ sauce (your favorite) until meat is completely coated with some sauce to spare. Fill quart sized freezer bags with meat. Lay flat to freeze.
From another bowl, simply fill your freezer bags with 2-3 cups of plain pork for future use. The great thing about this is you might find you wanted more BBQ sandwiches than you made, so you can simply add BBQ sauce. Or you might find another recipe that needs shredded pork and you don't have to go thru the trouble of making it. You can just add sauce. You get the idea.
And finally, for the last bowl, you need to combine the following ingredients in a medium saucepan for the sweet pork sauce. Combine, simmer, stir, and cool. Then pour it over the pork and stir well. You may have too much sauce for your pork. In that case, save the extra sauce in another quart sized bag and freeze it so you can whip it out later in a pinch. It works great as a last minute meal.
If you have never heard of El Pato sauce, it is a tomato salsa but not like salsa you're used to. It looks a lot like tomato sauce and the can is about the same size. But it doesn't taste like tomato sauce. The label is either yellow or green and has a duck on it (El Pato means the duck).
There are two types of sauce and you need both. The yellow is the regular kind. The green is jalepeno. While you might think that your family won't want the jalepeno one, you need it. It doesn't add spiciness, but does add a lot of flavor. Don't skip it! You'll find El Pato sauce in your Mexican aisle, near the beans, enchilada sauces, etc. It isn't normally near the tomato sauce nor the regular salsas, so don't look there unless you truly can't find it.
SWEET CROCK POT PORK
- 4 8-oz. cans tomato sauce
- 2 9-oz. cans regular El Pato sauce
- 2 9-oz. cans Jalepeno El Pato sauce
- 4 cups brown sugar
- 2 cups water
To serve, thaw meat and heat in a saucepan. Serve as burritos or over a salad.
That's it! Enjoy these meals. They are simple to assemble and delicious to eat!