I'm constantly amazed by the humble Slow cooker/crock-pot. Fire and forget, it's the savior to many households in the US for busy families trying to make a good meal after a hard day at work/school. Not just that, it's special power of slow low temperature cooking yields the most amazing results when it comes to tender meats. All of that comes in an varieties from dirt cheap to expensive and simple one knob Low/Hi/Off to fancy settings, timer controls and temperature control. You can't walk into a second hand store without seeing several of these lying around, it's just that common.
A very noble intro, I actually used this bento as an excuse to acquire a 4th slow cooker.
(I'll post more on the new toy later)
The crock pot is magic when it comes to pulled pork. I've done various versions of this in the past but ran across the idea of a coffee/espresso based dry rub from a couple of sources. I cobbled together my version of this rub. Since I was working with about seven pounds of pork shoulder I let this bad boy go for about eight and a half hours. The pork came out (as you can see) extremely tender. No fork needed, just lifting the pork with a set of tongs and it started falling apart. The coffee imparted an interesting smokey flavor with a very subtle undertone of sweet from the brown sugar. Next time I'm skipping the chipotle I think the coffee gives plenty "smokey" flavor.
I call this a "Mock" wild rice risotto. This particular dish is a bit of a accident. Originally, I substituted a short grain brown rice thinking the extra starch would make it a little more creamy. It turns out I should have monitored the consistency more closely. The brown rice was quite mushy which wasn't quite what I wanted originally. However, after eating the plate you see to the right, I was actually quite happy with this dish. It tasted like a risotto, the brown rice was pretty mush, however the wild rice cooked down to the point where it reminded me of the "toothy-ness" of properly cooked risotto, which is why I relabeled this dish as mock wild rice risotto. The other flavors in the dish came from some carrots, onions, tomatoes, and mushroom and some spices.
I pulled this "Saucy Succotash" from Better Homes and Gardens. I always underestimate the scale of recipes when I work with crock pots. Sure it says serves 12, but for some reason I chose not to believe their "so called suggestion" and doubled it. Yeah..... um. no they were right. Definitely was able to serve 24 with that one crock pot. One of these days I'll learn. If anyone needs some Saucy Succotash, lemme know. The dish was quite good, I cut some calorie corners going with light sour cream. The smoked gouda was a very good choice. I usually hate smoked cheeses, but this worked quite well with the dish and complemented the overall "wintery" feel of this bento.
What is more commonly served with pork than apples? I've done this recipe before, in fact in my first slo mo bento. Not a whole lot special to say here again, I went with the granny smith varietal since it seemed to work so well last time.
Total prep time was about 30 mins and cooking day setup was just under an hour. The slow cooker did all the work for me. Yay slow cooker!
- Pulled Pork
- Mock Wild rice risotto
- Saucy Succotash
- Homemade apple sauce