Thursday, March 13, 2008

Slow-cooked Shredded Meat

Today we present a formula, a strategy, and it's a most useful one at that. Cooking meat a long, long time with plenty of moisture is an excellent way to ensure a tasty, proteinaceous, and tender meal out of whatever hunk of meat you have. This is a very versatile approach: adding more tomato sauce, a touch of sugar, and spices morphs the deal into sloppy joes (not my favorite dish by any means, but a good one to know); mosasses, mustard, and spices (or a bottled sauce) produces barbecue; and oregano, chiles, cumin, and other appropriate spices turns up a great concoction for tacos, burritos... or tamales? Many thanks to Ford for this recipe!

Basic Slow-Cooked Shredded Meat
2 lbs cheap, fatty pork or beef
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 medium-to-large cloves garlic, minced
2 8-oz cans tomato sauce, or 1 15 oz can broth
In a hot pan, brown the meat will on all sides (it can be one or two big hunks of meat or, for faster cooking but more difficult trimming, cut into cubes). Throw it in the crockpot. Dump the onion and garlic on top, then add the tomato sauce or broth.
Set the crockpot on medium (or, for faster cooking, high) and put on the lid. Cook it with the lid on for 2-3 hours. Then remove the lid and cook uncovered for another hour or two, so that the juices reduce to a nice sauce.
When the meat is cooked, remove it from the crockpot to a broad, shallow dish or platter. Pull off and discard any big fatty chunks that you don't want to eat. Shred the meat with forks, return it to the pot, stir it all up and serve it on buns or over noodles or whatever.
You can also cook this in the oven, in a casserole dish with a lid, at moderate heat (perhaps 250 degrees).