Sunday was spent supporting our area’s agritourism industry, which is to say that The Wife and I took The Kid to Critz Farm in Cazenovia for some autumntime fun. I’ll write more later about why Critz’s fall festival weekends are awesome, but my point here is that a day at the farm meant that I wouldn’t have time to grocery shop or fuss much over dinner.
Last week I bought a boneless pork shoulder at Wegmans. I had no real plan for it when I tossed it in the cart. I do this from time to time as my Iron Chef skills test here at Al Dente HQ. Pork shoulders are awesome and versatile and I figured, at worst, I would make a pork ragu to serve over pasta.
Rewind to the summer. I had some coupons for Goya Foods blue-label beans. I really like Goya’s stuff and use it pretty exclusively in terms of canned beans. I grabbed some white beans, red kidneys, black beans, chickpeas, and just for fun, I picked up a can of hominy. I’ve never used it before but figured that it would come in handy eventually.
So, as I stood in the kitchen on Sunday morning, I took inventory of the stuff in the house that I could pile into the slow cooker for eight hours of low heat. I had pork shoulder, hominy, canned tomatoes, beans, and some carrots leftover from Saturday’s market trip and subsequent dinner. There was garlic, obviously, and plenty of chicken and beef stock. An improv dinner was at hand!
WHAT WORKED: The beans and hominy broke down nicely and thickened the broth nicely. I was a little worried at how much liquid was in the bowl, but the starches went to work and made magic.
WHAT DIDN’T: Me. I could have used a little more salt, but that is easily rectified.
WHAT DID THE WIFE SAY: “This is really good. What is hominy?” I have no idea other than it is used to make authentic grits. Here’s the Wikipedia entry. After reading it, I can assure you that I will be making a pozole this winter.
WILL IT MAKE ANOTHER APPEARANCE: This made about 8 servings, so I have a quart in the freezer and two lunches this week. So, yes.
By Jared Paventi
- 2 to 3 lbs. boneless pork shoulder
- 2 tbsp. canola or other high-temperature, neutral vegetable oil
- kosher salt
- 2 cups plus 1/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock
- 15 oz. can white hominy (I used Goya brand), drained and rinsed
- 15 oz. can navy or cannellini beans (I used Goya brand), drained and rinsed
- 2 medium carrots, diced
- 15 oz. can diced tomatoes in juice
Using a sharp, large knife on a clean surface, cut your pork shoulder into 1- to 2-inch cubes. Season the pork with kosher salt.
Heat oil in a large, heavy skillet over high heat until it shimmers. Add the pork shoulder and brown on all sides, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a pork to a bowl and pour off any remaining oil or fat left in the pan. Add a 1/4 cup of stock and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan.
Add the carrots to the bowl of a slow cooker with the 2 cups of stock.Add the pork and any accumulated juices in the bowl. Top with the stock from the skillet. Add the tomatoes, hominy and beans to the slow cooker, and stir together with a wooden spoon. Season with a pinch of kosher salt. Cover the slow cooker and set to the 8- or 10-hour setting.
Before serving, taste and adjust flavors with salt and pepper. Serve hot over basmati or yellow rice.