Before I begin this story, I should tell you that I wrote a previous blog post about a Cuban Pork recipe that I discovered during a trip to Puerto Rico many years ago. It was February, and New York City in winter is a dreary affair. So my husband and I, being young and adventurous, flew off to a Caribbean paradise to bathe in the sun.
On a weathered pier that looked way too flimsy for the pure white sands of Liquillo Beach sat Trader Vic’s, a rustic restaurant that was home to the best paella we’d ever eaten. Paella is a magnificent feast usually served in a special pan. This huge dish is equally huge in flavor, abundant with adobo pork and local seafood such as pink gulf shrimp, huge ocean scallops, clams, and mussels the likes of which most of us have never experienced before (but that’s another post).
Adobo, or zesty roasted pork, is a staple in Latin America and some parts of southeast Asia. “Adobo” is a catchword for many different versions of the dish. This Latin American version is a guaranteed crowd pleaser for that next company dinner or special occasion. Feel free to swap out the spices and other ingredients to taste. For example, if you want to try the Asian-inspired flavors of Filipino or luau style pork, use a fermented soy sauce such as tamari or shoyu.
It’s a bonus that this dish, no matter what version you’re partial to, is slow cooker friendly. It seems to me that many hot-climate cultures know the benefits of low-and-slow cooking. We should too, since the slow cooker doesn’t heat up the kitchen—a plus in any season, but especially summer.
I’ve recently converted many recipes to the slow cooker, including Stuffed Cabbage. This method of cooking requires no tending once programmed, and it’s energy efficient. The best of both worlds!
Chef’s note: This flavor combination is new to me. I’ve used cumin and coriander many times but never with ancho chili peppers and lime. The result is zesty but not too spicy. Ancho peppers are actually dried poblano chili peppers, which are rich in flavor and ever so popular right now. However, if you prefer an even milder taste, you may substitute them for Anaheim chili peppers instead. Buen apetito!
For the rice:
2 cups basmati rice, or other rice of your preference
1 teaspoon turmeric (if using yellow rice)
1 cinnamon stick (optional)
1 star anise (optional)
2½ cups homemade broth, stock, or water
For the pork
4–6 Ancho chilis, destemmed, seeded, and chopped
¼ cup olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1½ teaspoons oregano
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon each ground cumin, coriander, black pepper, and allspice
4–6 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
Zest of 1 lime
4 teaspoons lime juice
4–6 bone-in pork chops, about 1-inch thick (you may use boneless chops if you prefer)
2 cups fresh corn kernels (optional)
2 green bell peppers, cut into strips
Fresh cilantro, chopped (for garnish)
- Cook rice with cinnamon stick, star anise, and/or turmeric in broth, stock, or water (remember to remove cinnamon stick and star anise before serving). Set cooked rice aside.
- Preheat slow cooker to high setting. In a medium bowl, stir together the finely chopped chilis, olive oil, onion, oregano, garlic, spices, cider vinegar, orange juice, lime zest, and lime juice.
- Place pork chops in slow cooker. Pour half of chili mixture over them.
- Cook 4 hours on low setting.
- Add corn kernels, if using, green peppers, and the rest of chili mixture.
- Cook an additional 25 minutes. Serve over hot rice, spooning the remaining sauce over the pork chops and the sprinkling the dish with fresh Cilantro.
Image from istock/Justin Smith