Slow cooking for fast-track dinners
When summer arrives the idea of slow cooking, especially in a slow cooker, is not often considered, yet it can be the answer for fast-track dinners.
Pulled meats, not known of until recent years, have become the food trend of the decade. This trend, it could be argued, is not new. Today’s excitement about chilli-spiked and smoky barbecued pork shoulder or belly hails from North Carolina during colonisation, where meat, in particular pork, was slow cooked by necessity.
During early settlement, the State became the leader in pork farming and the resulting meat was cooked in a barbecue pit, the only means of cooking.
Traditionally the well-cooked meat (all meat was once well cooked, as it kept longer) was served with pepper —probably chilli — and vinegar. Sweet sauces like tomato were unknown and sugar was an expensive luxury.
Today, our pork-eating habits have gone from traditional roasts to easy-cook options like stir-fry, chops and steaks, cuts which, due to the labour-intensive preparation, come at a high price. The dilemma for the industry as to how to sell the larger cuts has been partly solved with this newfound love of pulled meats.
Pork shoulder and legs are now available cut across the bone into thick pavement-like slabs, retaining the bone, fat and skin for flavour. These cuts are simply superb to slow roast, slow barbecue or braise, and are substantially cheaper.
New Zealand cannot produce sufficient pork to meet the demand, which is not only sad, but a worrying trend for the industry. About 60 per cent of our consumption of all pork and pork products (bacon, ham, salami, etc) is from pork imported here without having to meet the stringent new welfare standards expected of our farmers.
The provenance of our pork is being promoted through a new logo, PIGCARE Born and Raised in New Zealand, as research uncovered that consumers found the old 100% NZ Pork logo was ambiguous, given that processed products prepared from imported pork qualified for the logo.
It’s not that we may not choose to buy such products, but having the knowledge to make the choice is paramount, regardless of how we cook it.
Tamarind, sour and tangy, cuts through the sweetness of chilli sauce. The star anise can be omitted or use cloves instead. Serve the pork hot or at room temperature, with a few fresh herbs to garnish, with several forks for diners to tuck in and pull off their preferred serving. Get the recipe