The different types of pork and how to slow cook them
Pork is a fantastic cut of meat to slow cook in winter. It's versatile, tender and brimming with flavour.
Picking the perfect cut to slow cook on the stovetop or in a slow cooker can make or break a recipe, so here are our top recommendations and how to cook them.
Pork shanks are a tough cut of meat and their flavour really shines through with long, slow temperatures.
How to cook Pork Shanks
- Preheat an ovenproof pan over medium-high heat on the stovetop. No need for oil as pork contains enough of its own fat
- Add the pork shanks in batches to a pan in a single layer and leave undisturbed for 3-4 minutes or until browned and fat is melting
- Turnover and cook until evenly browned and starting to crisp up
- Remove from the pan and add your flavours of choice, some great options are onion, garlic, and fresh thyme
- Add a thin layer of liquid to the bottom of the pan
- Return seared pork shanks to the pan
- Cover with a lid and cook in a preheated 160°C oven for 3-4 hours or until meat is tender and flaking
- Alternatively, transfer to your slow cooker, cover with a lid and cook on Low for around 8-12 hours, or on High for 4-5 hours
Pork belly is a mouthwatering cut of pork that is generally slow roasted at low temperatures (140°C) for a few hours to soften the meat and melt the fat, making it tender and moist. To get that crispy skin that is to die for, increase the oven temperature to 200 -220°C and cook until the skin crackles.
Cooking pork belly in a slow cooker will tenderise and soften the meat but not crisp up the skin. If you're not a crispy skin fan, remove it with a sharp knife or ask your butcher to remove it.
If that scrumptious pork crackling is your favourite part of the meal, simply remove the meat from the slow cooker once it is cooked and place it under a hot grill for 5-6 minutes until the skin blisters and crisps up.
How to cook Pork Belly in the slow cooker
- Add pork belly into the slow cooker liner along with any aromatics such as garlic and onion and spices.
- Add ½ cup stock or water.
- Cover with lid and cook on LOW for 7-8 hours.
If you don’t have a slow cooker
- Place the pork belly in a cast-iron casserole dish along with aromatics.
- Cover and cook in a low oven at 140°C for 4-5 hours.
- Follow directions for crisping up the skin.
Pork shoulder is a delicious and budget-friendly pork option, making it perfect for a big Sunday family roast.
How to make Pork Shoulder in the slow cooker
- Brown the pork in a frying pan if desired. Otherwise, place it directly into the slow cooker with your fresh vegetables and herbs.
- Cook in the slow cooker on Low for around 6-8 hours.
- The pork should pull apart when flaked with a fork.
How to cook Pork Shoulder in the oven
- Brown the pork in an oven-proof cast-iron pan, or place it directly into an oven-proof Dutch oven or casserole dish that has a secure lid.
- Add your fresh vegetables, herbs and any other ingredients as per the recipe.
- Cook in a preheated low oven (160°C) for around 3-4 hours.
- Meat should flake when pressed with a fork.
How to cook Pork Shoulder on the stovetop
- Brown the pork in an oven-proof cast-iron pan, or place it directly into a flame-proof Dutch oven or casserole dish that has a secure lid.
- Add the other recipe ingredients and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.
- Reduce heat to low and simmer gently for 2-3 hours or until pork flakes easily when pressed with a fork.
Pork chops are an old favourite from so many childhoods, and they are a cut of meat that is easy to write off as tough and chewy if they aren't cooked correctly. Once upon a time slow cooking a pork chop would have been unheard of, but it is actually a fantastic way to nail juicy, flavourful chops.
Pork chops contain very little fat and connective tissue normally found in hard-working muscles. There are actually a few different kinds, and choosing a bone-in variety such as sirloin pork chops will really make a difference.
How to slow cook Pork Chops
- Sear the pork chops on the stovetop first, this isn't mandatory but can really help to seal in the flavours.
- Place half the vegetables such as carrot, onion, celery, garlic and herbs into the base of the slow cooker bowl and place your pork chops on top.
- Cover with remaining vegetables. This will help to insulate the pork from direct heat and prevent any chance of it drying out.
- Only add a small amount of liquid, ¼- ⅓ cup of either stock, wine, cider or even water is suitable.
- At around 2 hours, the texture will be tender but firm, similar to chicken breast.
- Between 3- 6 hours, the texture will flake easily like pulled pork.
Pork ribs are absolute flavour bombs and are a great excuse to test out some fun spice rubs and marinades at your next party.
How to cook Pork Ribs
- Season your ribs with a spice rub and place the ribs meat side up into a roasting dish large enough to contain ribs in a single layer.
- Add about ¾ - 1 cup of liquid into the dish such as cider, apple juice, stock or even water to the pan. Avoid pouring the liquid over the top of the ribs as it will wash away the spices.
- Cover the roasting dish with foil, making sure to create a complete seal.
- Place on a low middle oven shelf, in a preheated 160°C oven, and cook for 1 ½ – 2 hours.
- Meat should fall easily and pull away from the bone when pressed with a fork. If it doesn’t return to the oven and cook for a further 30-40 minutes.
- Remove cooked ribs from the oven and increase the temperature to 180°C.
- Turn ribs over and brush both sides of cooked ribs with a finishing sauce.
- Return to the oven and cook each side, basting with more finishing sauce until glossy and sticky.
Do you need liquid in a slow cooker for pulled pork?
The beauty of a slow cooker is it actually produces its own liquid as the food cooks, which stays inside the cooker due to its closed environment. To avoid scorching or burning, simply make sure you have at least 1kg of combined meat and vegetables in the bowl, or allow for at least 2cm of liquid in the bottom of the slow cooker bowl.
Does pork shoulder need to be submerged in liquid in the slow cooker?
When cooking in a slow cooker, the meat does not need to be submerged completely in liquid or sauce. Add your juicy pork cut of choice, herbs, spices, and any sauces or stocks and cook away!
How long do you slow cook a pork roast?
Low and slow is always the go for a tender pork roast. Depending on the size of the roast and the type of slow cooker, a pork roast is best cooked on LOW for 6-8 hours. If you prefer an oven method, a typical roast will take 3-4 hours in a low (160°C) oven.
Flex your pork roasting skills
Getting to know all the different pork cuts and how to slow cook them perfectly is a great way to impress the family at the next Sunday roast. Now that you are a pork cut connoisseur, scroll down to find some delicious recipes to test your new skills. Enjoy!
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