Super-easy slow-cooker pork recipes

Carnitas / BBQ Pulled Pork/ Korean BBQ Pork

The noble pork shoulder. Cheap. Meaty. But … how do you cook it?

I have three super-simple recipes, all using a pork shoulder or pork butt roast. With or without a bone, it makes no difference — although personally, I cook it with the bone, just because it adds a lot more flavor during the slow-cooking process.

Basically, you start with a slow cooker crock pot and a cut of pork shoulder or pork butt weighing approx. 3-5 lbs. Cut the meat into bite-sized chunks, and then add a few spices.


The first is one of my favorites. I based it off of this great recipe, and it’s amazing in tacos, burritos, tortas, or just by itself. Check out this great torta I made with the carnitas and some homemade curtido.

carnitas torta
– 3-4 fresh limes, sliced
– 2 fresh onions, sliced
– 1 head garlic, smashed and chopped
– 3 tbs. dried oregano
– 3 tbsp. cumin
– salt and pepper

Coat the pork in all of the spices mixed together, and place in the crock pot. Layer the sliced onions and sliced limes over the pork. Cover the crock pot in foil and place the lid on top, and cook on the “high” setting for 6-8 hours.

crock pot carnitas

Remove the lime slices before crisping the pork in a skillet on your stovetop and serving with tortillas, salsa, avocados and all of the fixings.

carnitas burritos

crockpot pork recipe card

If you’re not into carnitas, another excellent use of that pork cut is Korean food. If you like kimchi and other banchan, this is a great way to use it up.

Korean BBQ Pork

– 1/2 cup sriracha
– 1/2 cup brown sugar
– 1 onion, sliced
– 1/4 cup soy sauce
– 3 tbsp rice wine vinegar

Place the cubed pork in the crock pot and coat with the remaining ingredients. Cook on the “high” setting for at least 6-8 hours. Serve shredded or cubed — preferably with rice, kimchi, and other banchan (traditional Korean pickled side dishes like these).

OR … if you just want something simple to slap on some buns, grab a bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce. I prefer Sweet Baby Ray’s or KC Masterpiece. Or something homemade.

BBQ Pulled Pork

-1 bottle BBQ sauce
– hamburger or slider buns

Place the cubed pork in the crock pot with a bottle of your favorite storebought or homemade BBQ sauce, then simmer on “high” setting for at least 6 hours. When finished, take two forks and shred the pork (it will flake very easily), then serve on buns for sliders.

Barbacoa Bao Bun Tacos with Avocado-Pineapple Slaw

This is a great recipe to impress a crowd at your next party or impromptu gathering. It uses a Taiwanese-style bun with pre-cooked Mexican-style slow-cooked beef, and the slaw — which is more like a salsa when it’s ready — makes it a perfectly rounded snack or appetizer.

Barbacoa is traditionally made with slow-cooked beef head, and although the name and the low-and-slow style might make some Americans think of BBQ beef or pulled beef, the taste of Barbacoa is more akin to a slow-cooked beef stew with vegetables. The pre-cooked barbacoa from Del Real Foods (which is perfect for a quick snack like this) has great flavor but no spicy heat, but you can spice up the final version of your tacos later.

bao buns

A note about the bao buns: These are available in the frozen section of most Asian markets (like H Mart or 99 Ranch). Sometimes they are called Gwa Pao or Gwa Bao — or my personal favorite, “Taiwanese Hamburger Bun.”

For most brands, like the one I purchased, they are already fully cooked and split in half, and are prepared by simply removing them from the package and microwaving them for about 45 seconds. You can also just let them thaw out for about 20 minutes.


Barbacoa Bao Bun Tacos with Avocado-Pineapple Slaw

(Makes 10 small tacos)

  • 1 package (10 buns) of frozen Bao buns
  • 1 package fully cooked Del Real Foods Barbacoa
  • about 2 cups chopped green cabbage (approx. 1/2 of a small cabbage head)
  • 1 20-oz. can sliced pineapple with juice
  • 2 large, ripe avocados
  • 1 red onion
  • 1/2 cup white or apple cider vinegar
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. dried Mexican oregano
  • 1/4 cup cotija cheese
  • 1 jalapeno (optional)

First, prepare the slaw, which is sort of a fresh variation on curtido. Chop half of the onion (leave the other half for garnish), and 1 1/2 avocados (save half of one for garnish, too).

Then chop the pineapple slices and place the chopped onion, cabbage, avocado and pineapple in a large mixing bowl. Add the pineapple juice from the can, plus the vinegar, salt, pepper, and oregano.

salsa ingredients

If you’re going to add the jalapeno, dice it and add it now. If you’re serving a crowd with varying tastes, it might be best to cut the jalapeno into larger slices and add it as a garnish when you assemble the tacos, so people who don’t like the extra heat can just remove the pepper.


Blend all of the slaw ingredients thoroughly (use a food processor or a vegetable chopper) and set aside. You can prepare the slaw up to three hours ahead of time — just not too much longer, or else your avocados might color a little.

This last step of blending the slaw in your food processor might not seem worth it, but trust me, it is. This way the bits of pineapple, onion, avocado and cabbage will adhere to the meat and the bun, instead of falling out.


Put the barbacoa in a saucepan over high heat and let cook briskly for about 8-10 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened and evaporated. Be sure to break up any big chunks of meat.


This will concentrate the flavor as well as giving the meat a nice sauce for your tacos.

Prepare the bao buns last — check the package, but more than likely, they are ready in the microwave in less than a minute, so obviously they need to be ready last.

barbacoa bun

Fill each bun with meat first, then add the slaw, cotija cheese and other jalapeno, onion or avocado.


Serve immediately.

with a beer

Fresh and easy pork pozole verde

This recipe is another shortened version of an old favorite, this time using Del Real Foods pre-prepared chili verde pork.

Usually my posole is made with chicken and slow-cooked in my crock pot, but this will be on your table in under half an hour.


In addition to the chili verde, you’ll need stock (vegetable or chicken will be fine), Mexican hominy, green salsa, and lots of fresh vegetables. I used green and red cabbage, fresh limes, sliced radish, diced green onions and diced cilantro.

Fast and Easy Pork Pozole Verde

(Serves 8-10)

  • 1 16-oz package of Del Real Foods chili verde (pork in green sauce)
  • 1 7-0z can of salsa verde (green salsa)*
  • 1 large can (about 24 oz) of  Mexican hominy, drained
  • 32 oz chicken stock or vegetable stock
  • 12 oz water
  • 1 head green or red cabbage (or both), chopped
  • 2-3 red radishes, sliced
  • 1 handful cilantro, chopped
  • 1 lime, quartered
  • 2-3 green onions, chopped

Chop all of the cabbage and fresh vegetables and set aside for later. Open the package of pork and shred or chop the meat into small pieces, then place in a large pot over high heat. Add the can of salsa verde and the hominy.

pozole verde

Add the stock and water, then cover the pot and bring to a boil. Let it sit on a low boil for about 10-15 minutes.

*A note about the salsa verde: this will add a lot of flavor but not heat. If you like your soup extra spicy, use a spicier or homemade salsa verde, or add hot sauce or salsa to the bowl as you serve it.

pork pozole

The soup will be very thin once the water and stock are added. The fresh vegetables are added when serving, and they will fill up the bowl.

Be sure to squeeze a slice of lime into each bowl as well. Serve immediately.

Fast and Easy Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken Tortilla soup is one of my favorite soups to make.

I usually make it with homemade stock and seasoned chicken, but I discovered a very fast and easy way to make an even better version.

This recipe takes virtually no time — even when you crisp up the chips yourself. I start with Del Real Foods Chipotle Chicken Tinga, and use premade stock. Also, I use canned tomatoes, chilis and corn, but you can certainly substitute frozen or fresh vegetables if you like. Don’t forget some cheese, avocado and cilantro for a garnish.


Easy Chipotle Chicken Tortilla Soup

(Serves 8-10)

  • 1 16-oz. package of Del Real Foods Chipotle Chicken Tinga
  • 16 oz. chicken stock
  • 5-6 medium-sized corn tortillas
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil, separated
  • 1 can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 can diced tomatoes with chiles
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro
  • 2 fresh limes, sliced
  • about 1/4 cup cotija cheese (for garnish)
  • salt and pepper


Pour about 2 tablespoons of oil into a medium saucepan and bring to medium high heat. Cut the tortillas in half, then slice into multiple strips.

tortilla strips

Place one of the tortillas (in strips) into the hot oil, and fry for about 3-5 minutes or until crispy. Turn off the heat. Remove from the oil, place on a paper towel to drain, season with salt and pepper, and set aside. (Keep the other, unfried tortilla strips.)

Dice the onion and place into the hot oil (you may need to add a little more oil), and fry the onion for 2-3 minutes. Add the corn and tomatoes with chiles, plus a little salt and pepper, and cook for another 2 minutes.

Add the Chipotle Chicken Tinga (you may want to shred or chop it up a little, it’s in pretty big chunks straight out of the package) and the chicken stock, and bring to high heat – not quite boiling. Add the remaining, unfried strips of tortilla. Add salt and pepper, then squeeze the juice of the limes into the pot and turn off the heat. Take a taste and make add more salt or pepper if needed.

Garnish the individual soup bowls with chopped cilantro, cotija cheese, slices of avocado, and the crispy tortilla strips. Serve immediately.

chipotle chicken tortilla soup

New summer experiments, smoked porchetta and SwineApple

My kitchen looks like my Pinterest boards exploded all over it this week, but I can’t say I’m mad about it, because all of the experiments I tried for my Independence Day party were great successes!

beer-can chicken and swineapples

Every year, I have a big Fourth of July party, usually starring a few smoked items using my Masterbuilt M7P smoker. This year, like every year, I smoked a few good meats, including a beer-can chicken, but I wanted a few good desserts, too.

The first was super-simple … a cookie sheet, a bunch of Oreo cookies, some marshmallows, and a jar of cookie butter. (The recipe I took this from called for peanut butter, but Trader Joe’s has this thing that actually tastes like cookies, so I thought that would be better. I was right. You should feel free to use whatever gooey, creamy, buttery spread you have on hand.)


I prepared it before my party started, and when it was dessert time, I just turned on the oven and let them melt and get all gooey. My only mistake was only making one pan full of them.

finished s'mOreos

My next dessert also required a bit of work before the party, but it was worth it. Basically, I made Jell-O shots using a watermelon as the mold … hollow out a watermelon, fill it with Jello-O (oh yeah, with vodka instead of cold water) and then at the party, slice your watermelon into adorable slices.

watermelon Jell-O shots

Just make sure you cut your “watermelon” into small pieces if you’re making them into vodka shots.

For my meat dishes, I had two ideas in mind. I wanted to try to make my own version of a porchetta. In Italy, it’s a small, boneless, suckling pig, stuffed with herbs and roasted over a spit, then served with crusty bread.

Neither my budget nor my outdoor cooking system will accommodate a whole, boneless suckling pig, so I didn’t even bother researching how much that would cost me. Instead I took a trip to my favorite butcher shop, which had super-thick-cut slices of both pork loin and pork belly.

porchetta weave

I wove the thick slices together, coated it with a mixture of herbs on the inside, (green onion, parsley, garlic, cilantro, and white wine), then rolled it carefully.

I let them sit in the fridge overnight and smoked them alongside my other meat items.

smoked porchetta

Then I served the slices of finished smoked porchetta with some nice crusty bread. Again, my only mistake was not making enough.

smoked porchetta with bread

I definitely will be working on the specifics for this porchetta some more before I post a full recipe. I want to tweak the herb stuffing so it’s not so spicy, and tweak the meat so it holds in more moisture without being wrapped in foil while smoking. This was an excellent experiment, for sure … but it could be better.

Lastly, and surprisingly the most fun, was the SwineApple. I had trouble finding two large pineapples (those smaller, sweeter, Hawaiian ones are in the stores now), so I made four small ones. I also found some amazing spicy bulgogi-spiced pork belly and pork spareribs at the local Korean grocery store, so that’s what I used to stuff and wrap my pineapples.

pineapple staging

The most time-consuming hands-on part of the process is properly coring and peeling your pineapples, which is harder than it looks. If you’ve never tried it before, ask your grocer for help or try a You Tube video for some tricks. I found it was easiest to core the pineapples first, then cut the peel off.

And don’t throw away the cores and peels! Save them to make tepache. Trust me.


  • four small (or two large) whole pineapples, cores and peels removed
  • 3 lbs. boneless pork spareribs, seasoned and cut into small chunks
  • 5 lbs. thick-sliced seasoned pork belly or bacon

First, stuff the pineapples with the bits of pork spareribs. Try to keep the pieces small so they cook thoroughly.

pork spareribs

Next, wrap them with the bacon or pork belly, and use a toothpick or two to hold the slices in place if necessary.

swineapples ready to smoke

Place them (gently!) on the smoker and smoke for about 3 hours.

swineapples on the smoker

As you can see, my smoker was a little crowded on Independence Day.

photo courtesy of Annie Greenberg

photo courtesy of Annie Greenberg

Although most of the pork belly wrap seemed to sort of melt into the fruit, the spareribs on the inside stay nice and chunky.

sliced swineapples

Then, all you have to do is slice it up and serve it with some toothpicks.

Crazee Burger’s movin’ on up to a new location

I was lucky enough this week to be among the first to experience Crazee Burger at their new digs, at the intersection of 30th and Lincoln in North Park — the new location just had it’s “soft” opening on June 17.

I have to admit that I came late to the party — I never visited the old location, and the only time I ever had Crazee Burger previously was at the Mission Valley Craft Beer and Food Festival in April. My boyfriend and I took complete advantage of the “unlimited” tastings and had — let’s say, more than one — of the Kobe beef, wild boar and buffalo sliders.

They were awesome.

MV samples

One of my favorite things about Crazee Burger — come on, everyone loves the fact that you can eat things like elk, camel, kangaroo and ostrich, in addition to their many specialty beef burgers — is their sauces. The sliders we enjoyed at the festival were topped with creamy horseradish and chipotle, and their many specialty burgers are topped with inventive sauces perfect for pairing with rare meats.


For example, their Gator burger is topped with a curry fruit tapenade, their duck burger features a white wine/hoisin reduction, and the turkey burger is served with an orange marmalade glaze. The Cajun burger I enjoyed (which has a spicy blackened beef patty and sauteed onions) is topped with a delicious – but spicy! – smoked chili sauce.

Cajun burger

If “exotic” elk, duck, buffalo and ostrich isn’t your bag, you can choose from a huge number of specialty burgers, all made with top-notch organic beef. I basically need to find an excuse to come back here at least 10 more times to experience all of these.

beef options

The Chubby Charlie especially has me drooling … especially if you follow Crazee Burger’s Instagram feed. And the El Jacobo? I love chorizo. The Texas?! I love BBQ sauce.

And the cheeses … so many cheeses.

So if you’re craving the perfect burger for whatever mood you’re in, head down to visit the new location at 30th and Lincoln. In addition to a bigger, and by all accounts, better spot, the new menus will have duck burgers and elk burgers.

Be sure to let me know in the comments or on social media (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook) about your favorite Crazee Burger burger. Happy eating!


Green Acre showcases Farm-to-Table concept

Yesterday I got the chance to visit a fabulous new farm-to-table restaurant in La Jolla — Green Acre at Campus Pointe, run by celebrity chef Brian Malarkey.

green acre

Green Acre is located in the Alexandria Center for Life Science, a state-of-the-art building housing multiple science companies, and the building itself hosts weddings and other celebrations and conferences.

The center itself is pretty amazing, with lush gardens and a full outdoor dining, gathering and recreation area adjacent to the actual restaurant.


It’s pretty incredible. As you enter the parking lot, you pass the garden where many of Green Acre’s food is grown, and it’s open to visitors.


It’s definitely worth a stroll through the garden.

kale palm trees

The kale plants have been adorably trimmed to look like palm trees, and they made excellent kale chips.


artichoke plant

And I am glad they opted to let some of the artichokes bloom (even though they’re delicious), because the purple flowers are so beautiful.


The food itself is all fresh and organic, and we started off with a plate featuring a few of Green Acre’s special sides, including root fries topped with chilis and cotija cheese, a jar of pickled seasonal veggies, and a few bits of pickled pineapple and yellow beets, which were really delicious when sampled together.


In addition to the regular menu ….


… there are also daily specials. The special of the day when I visited with my food blogger friends, it was a light chicken Parmesan with zucchini noodles.

zoodles and chicken parm special

Although a stroll through the gardens mentally prepared me for the big lunch I was about to eat, I artfully dodged the waiter’s suggestion of a smoky and spicy tuna melt (it comes with jalapeno and smoked cheddar) or the “Havana Affair” panini, with slow-roasted pork shoulder, Oregon ham and Gruyère …

Havana affair

… yet still managed to get the least healthy salad option; the corn cobb salad. It was a fabulous (and huge!) arranged salad with egg, chicken, bleu cheese, avocado, bacon and greens, as well as a light-as-air roasted corn vinaigrette.

corn cobb salad

To me, the salad is a perfect example of seasonal California cuisine, right down to the summery corn flavor and accompanying pretzel roll.

fig pizza

Our table also got to split a couple of their specialty flatbread pizzas, prepared in the open-air restaurant’s brick oven. Above is the fig flatbread, which is also topped with bleu cheese and prosciutto, and below is the mushroom, with garlic, burrata and truffle oil. Both were excellent, with fresh cheeses and delicious greens.

mushroom pizza

Both Green Acre locations are open for breakfast and lunch only, but the Campus Pointe location also has Happy Hour Thursdays and Fridays, and is open for special occasions and events in the evenings and weekends. Check out for more info.

The best and easiest side dishes

The best dishes don’t have to be complicated or involve tons of complicated ingredients, and for Pete’s sake, they don’t need to be made in a store.

Here are a few of my favorite simple side dishes, that require very little time and only a few ingredients each. And like nearly everything I cook, they are highly adaptable to whatever is in your kitchen.

Cheesy Greens Gratin

This is a great way to use up those leafy greens you got in your CSA box, or picked up at the market even though you weren’t sure what to do with them. You can use any type of chard, kale, spinach, or other hearty, leafy green vegetable. All of those green vitamins will help you not feel so bad about the three kinds of cheese and cream inside.

  • 2-3 lbs leafy greens (chard, kale, spinach, etc.), chopped
  • 2 cups sour cream or Mexican crema (basically a thicker, saltier sour cream)
  •  1 cup crumbled feta cheese or cotija cheese
  • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 3 tbs. butter
  • 1 cup panko crumbs
  • 1 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
  • salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 400. Mix together all of the vegetables, cream, cheese, and salt and pepper, and place in an oven-safe glass dish. Mix the panko and breadcrumbs together and sprinkle over the top, and place thin pats of butter over the crumbs.

Bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes, or until the crumbs are browned and the mixture is slightly bubbly.

cheesey greens gratin


Crunchy Fresh Vegetables with Fish Sauce

This is another one that is *mostly* healthy but can be a little high in sodium if you’re not careful. Fish sauce is an incredible ingredient, because it packs a metric ton of flavor into a few little dashes of liquid. However, it also contains about 70-80% of your daily recommended intake of sodium, so when you add the butter, or the pepper at the end, be sure to NOT add any more salt. It would put the sodium level straight over the top.

And, as with most of my favorite recipes, you can adapt it to whatever fresh produce you have on hand. Personally, I love this recipe best with fresh, crunchy green beans or snap peas, but you can also make it with Brussels sprouts,  broccoli or baby broccoli, or even okra.

  • 2 lbs. fresh, crunchy vegetables like green beans or snap peas
  • 2 tbsp. fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • cracked black pepper

Trim your veggies and start to melt the butter in a heavy pan. When the vegetables are cooked slightly (about 5 minutes), add the fish sauce and pepper. Serve immediately.

green beans with fish sauce

Stuffed Mushrooms

Two words: People Pleaser. If you’ve been invited to a nice party, a potluck, or even just over to a friend’s house to watch a football game, you should bring these. They take very little time to make, and they will disappear even faster.

  • 15-20 whole cremini mushrooms (about 4 lbs.)
  • 1/2 lb. bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp. garlic paste (or 2-3 cloves of crushed fresh garlic)
  • 1 cup panko or other breadcrumbs
  • 2 cups grated cheddar cheese

Remove the stems from the mushrooms and place, face-up, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the onions, bacon and garlic paste, and gently spoon it into each mushroom (You will have extra mixture, so stuff them as full as you can. It’s OK if they overflow a little.)

stuffed mushrooms

Sprinkle grated cheese and crumbs over each mushroom, and drizzle extra virgin olive oil over the whole pan. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the cheese is melty, the crumbs are crunchy, and the mushrooms are tender. Serve and eat immediately.

Kitchen Sink Cold Orzo Salad

I really love traditional orzo, made with barley. If you can find that, use it. But if not, any type of orzo (with wheat or other flour) will do just fine. This recipe also needs a spicy cold cut of meat — I used my own homemade pastrami, but feel free to use storebought pastrami (if you must) or any cured, salted meat product, like a cold salami.

Like any other “kitchen sink” recipe, this is with everything but the kitchen sink … I pretty much always have a squash or a carrot or a piece of some sort of vegetable in my fridge. Feel free to substitute what you have on hand.

  • 1 12-oz. package of orzo, cooked to manufacturer instructions and then cooled
  • approx. 1 1/2 lbs. of pastrami or other salty cold cut
  • 3 small yellow squash
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 tsp. dried marjoram
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 cups olive oil
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. spicy mustard

Whisk together the mustard, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper, and marjoram in a small bowl and set aside. Chop the squash, carrots, and meat.

Gently toss the cooked and cooled orzo with the vegetables and meat, and coat the entire mixture with the dressing. Pour slowly so you don’t drench the salad. Chill for an hour and serve cold.

orzo salad

Drunken Yams

No explanation is needed. Instead of just roasting your sliced potatoes, sweet potatoes, or yams, give them a shot or two of your favorite dark liquor.

Bourbon is recommended, but another type of whiskey, Scotch, brandy or rum will do just fine. If you REALLY want to kick it up a notch, sprinkle a bit of sriracha over those boys, too.


drunken yams