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Five Pork Dinners

by Melissa d'Arabian


May 24, 2015

Slow Cooker All-Purpose Pork Shoulder
When it comes to meat, there are definitely inexpensive cuts to know about. And, if you treat these cuts right, you can coax out their incredible flavor and tenderness. In this instance, cheap pork shoulders are fantastic braised because they become succulent cooked low and slow, and because they can generously feed a crowd (or a family with bonus leftovers). When pork shoulder goes on sale, it’s often as little as a buck a pound—such a value for a comforting, big-flavored cut of meat. I like to make this when I have a crazy week ahead of me. I pop the roast in the slow cooker in the morning and let it go all day long for a sublime, tender, and tasty foundation on which to make all kinds of dishes, from a quick barbecue pulled-pork sandwich to a rich pork ragu for pasta. If you don’t have a slow cooker, you can braise the pork shoulder in a 325 degree F oven for 2 1/2 to 3 hours or until tender.
This Cooker All-Purpose Pork Shoulder recipe serves as a versatile flavor base for countless dinner options. A great strategy is to set aside half of the braised meat for dinner tonight and freeze the rest for dinner another night. It’s like getting two meals for the effort of one!
Always buy your meat when it’s at least 50% off!
Yes, imagine a world in which all your meat was 50% off (or more!) . It’s doable if you shop the loss leaders. Every week in major grocery store chains, there is usually one beef, one chicken, and one pork cut on sale for 50 to 75 percent off its normal price. The objective of a loss leader is to get shoppers in the door of a supermarket, and though the store may take a hit on this one item, they know that you will also likely buy the rest of your groceries while you’re in the store (and make up the cost). I like to stock up on a few packages of these loss-leader meat items because meat freezes so beautifully. Then, you always have a stock of various meats at the ready for diverse and cost-effective family dinners.
Serves 8

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 4 to 8 hours (depending on whether you set the slow cooker to high or low heat)

  • 3- to 4-pound boneless pork shoulder (or 4 1/2-pound bone-in pork shoulder)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely minced or pressed through a garlic press
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine

1.  Rinse the pork, place on a cutting board, pat dry with paper towels, and rub in the salt and pepper. Set the pork into the bowl of a slow cooker, scatter the onion over the pork, sprinkle in the garlic, and add the wine. Cook until the meat easily pulls apart with a fork, about 8 hours on low or 4 hours on high.

2.  Turn off the slow cooker and transfer the pork to a platter. Use a fork to shred the meat and use in one of the ways that follow.

5 Dinner Ideas

Carnitas-style pork tacos: Fry chopped jalapenos in some oil, add the pork, season with salt, and brown until it’s crispy around the edges (you can brown both sides if you like). Pile into warmed corn tortillas and finish with a squeeze of lime.

Barbecued pork sandwich: Mix together three parts barbecue sauce with one part white vinegar and toss with the pork. Pile on a toasted bun and top with crunchy coleslaw.

Pasta and shredded pork: Toss the pork with steaming hot pasta, a little pasta water, some halved grape tomatoes, and a spoonful of prepared pesto. Finish with grated parmesan cheese.

Pork shepherd’s pie: Place leftover pork in a baking dish and top with cooked peas and then a layer of garlic-mashed potatoes. Sprinkle with grated cheese and bake until warmed through.

Pork turnovers: Cut 6-inch circles out of puff pastry, add a spoonful of pork, salsa, and some grated cheese, fold, crimp, and bake according to the puff pastry package instructions until golden.

 Find five additional ways to use the pork shoulder along with many more family-friendly recipes and money-saving tips in Melissa’s “Ten Dollar Dinners” cookbook.

Reprinted from the book Ten Dollar Dinners. Copyright © 2012 by Melissa d’Arabian. Published by Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House, Inc.

Related topics: dinner, cuisine, recipe, foodie

Share your thoughts

Does anybody have a really great summer-style crockpot recipe to share? I have lots of ideas for winter, but could use a few more simple recipes for summertime. My crockpot is my BFF in the kitchen!


I've got chicken with fajita seasoning in the crockpot right now and I'll be sauteing peppers and fresh mushrooms when it's done and serving it atop Spanish style rice for dinner. Quit making me so hungry, Melissa d'Arabian!!


Thanks so much for the meat buying tips on how to save money and time! Recipes sound delish too! Will use them. The slow cooker has become my go to as the colder season approaches. This method of cooking makes the house feel so homey and smells are comforting for all.


Another quick and easy pork shoulder crockpot recipe is to use 3-4 lbs. of meat, rub with 1 Tbsp of coarse sea salt then pour in 1 Tbsp of liquid smoke. Cook on low for 8-10 hours and it tastes like it just came off the smoker but without all the hassle. We also use it for pizza, tacos, in sandwiches, with eggs for's a good amount of delicious food for the least amount of hassle.


Another of my favorite uses for leftover crock pot meat is PIZZA. I use a premade crust (such as Boboli) and spread with a thin layer of BBQ sauce, top with shredded chicken or pork, then add either shredded cheese or thin slices of pepper jack cheese. Serve it with a salad and grapes or some other fresh fruit and you've got a lovely complete meal.


can you substitute anything for the wine? not a fan if served for kids (and no, alcohol does NOT cook away or burn off)...


Hi Sylvia. In my experience, you can actually substitute apple juice in many recipes that call for wine. It actually imparts a bit of sweetness to the dish as well, and the flavor is especially appropriate for pork. I use olive oil and a variety of seasonings to cook nearly any meat in the slow cooker. You could also use non-alcoholic wine if you wanted to follow Melissa's recipe more closely. Bear in mind that the entire roast calls for just 1/2 cup of white wine, and substitute the amount accordingly.


For anyone wondering what happens to alcohol when you cook with it:


Thank you! Tis is perfectly wonderful...a simple recipe and easy ways to mix it up. I need more like this!