Looking to break out of your weeknight dinner rut? Then check this out. I’ve come up with a great little pork dish for the crock pot. Now I’m not much of a crock pot user. I bought mine solely to keep my gumbo warm during parties. But I have, on occasion, treated this apparatus like the efficient small cooking appliance it was intended to be. I just never felt like the sum of the parts I put in it were worth writing about. Until now. This slow cooked pork? It’s worth writing about.
Several weeks ago, my mom and sister treated my brother to a birthday lunch at Nine Roses Vietnamese and Chinese restaurant in Gretna, a burb directly across the Mississippi River from Downtown New Orleans. They raved about the food as does anyone who’s eaten there. About the same time, I stumbled upon a documentary entitled Vietnamese Cuisine in New Orleans that first aired on WYES, the local public television station, back in October 2012 (which I highly recommend to anyone interested in Vietnamese cuisine and the traditions of the Vietnamese culture in New Orleans). I’ve been obsessing about Vietnamese food ever since. So during a recent trip to the store, I picked up a pack of boneless pork chops with the intention of turning them into some type of Vietnamese masterpiece. My plan was to marinate them in an amazing sauce, grill them just so and serve them over some type of fancy Asian noodle. But life and rain interrupted. I then did what any desperate housewife would do, I pulled out the crock pot. Honestly, I didn’t expect much considering my history with the thing and the mere minutes I had to pull the dish together. I forged ahead anyway, filling the oval stoneware container with Vietnamese staples. Four effortless hours later, and much to my surprise, I served up bowls of amazingly tender and flavorful pork nestled in mounds of delightfully chewy and tasty rice noodles.
I have a newfound respect for my slow cooker and am looking forward to my next food obsession. Between now and then, I hope you’ll try the pork!
Slow Cooked Vietnamese Pork Recipe
1 8-ounce package Vietnamese rice vermicelli noodles
6 boneless center-cut pork loin chops
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup thinly sliced onions
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1/4 cup fish sauce
1/4 cup sweet chili sauce
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon lemon grass puree (I use Gourmet Garden)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Thinly sliced green onions and chopped fresh cilantro and basil, for garnish
Cook rice vermicelli according to package directions; drain and set aside. Place pork between two sheets of waxed paper. With the flat side of a meat mallet, pound each piece to 1/2-inch thick. Lightly season both sides with salt and pepper and arrange in bottom of slow cooker. Layer onions and garlic on top. In a medium bowl, whisk together hoisin sauce and next six ingredients (through black pepper). Pour mixture over chops. Cover slow cooker and cook on low for 4 hours. Transfer pork to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm. Measure out 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid and pour into a small bowl. Add cornstarch and whisk until dissolved. Carefully transfer remaining liquid to a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Whisk in cornstarch slurry and cook stirring occasionally until sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Add cooked rice vermicelli to sauce and toss until evenly coated. To serve, divide rice noodles evenly among 6 plates, top with sliced pork and garnish with sliced green onions and chopped fresh cilantro and basil. Makes 6 servings.