6 September 2012

Slow cooker pork shoulder with parsnips and celery in cider

This recipe marks something of a turning point in the seasons.  The weather, although we are still getting the occasional warm to hot day, is turning more towards the autumnal.  For the next week or so, we'll be in that betwixt and between twilight world of not knowing whether to serve a salad or a casserole.  I figure that the best thing is to serve a combination of both, although perhaps not on the same plate!

I've already returned back to having to wear a cardigan whilst blogging, as our flat has such thick walls that it can be really warm outside (literally, just outside the window by my left arm), but in here it's really quite cool.  I thank the powers that be for that when the temperatures are up in the thirties - I think I might die otherwise - but as I've got older  (watch out, I'll have my ear trumpet out next!) I find I notice the cold more.


So, when I discovered this pork recipe in the Good Food Magazine, it very much appealed to me.  I thought it looked like it was showing the promise of some lovely autumnal flavours, whilst being homely and comforting to eat.  However, I didn't want it to have to spend two and a half hours in an oven that is expensive to heat - which meant breaking out the slow cooker.

Consequently, I've changed the method of the recipe quite considerably to suit the slow cooker.  I would ordinarily link to the original recipe so that you have the choice of which recipe to use, but I can't find it online anywhere yet.  As time goes by, if anyone finds it online somewhere and would like to let me know, I'd be happy to link to it.

Hubby wasn't too sure at all about this recipe, as when he went to the butcher to buy the pork shoulder all the pieces in the shop seemed to be very fatty.  Still, he persevered and bought a good sized piece, but it did nothing to change his fear that the meat would be globby and covered in horrid fat.

Not our piece of pork, but it illustrates the degree of fat involved
When it came to trimming and cubing the meat, I saw what he meant, as the piece did indeed look a bit worryingly fatty.  However, once I'd removed the rind and a good percentage of the underlying fat, it looked a lot better.  I have found recently that I just can't do high fat meals in the way that I used to - my tummy seriously rebels!  Even plain old chips are a bit of a lottery these days, so I was very keen to remove as much fat as I could - bearing in mind that the dish needed a small amount of fat to keep the meat moist and juicy in the cooking.  Plus, as the dish was being cooked for some five hours, I felt there should be plenty of time for the small amount of fat that was left to render down.  So, accompanied by the three waggy tailed dustbins who were very happy to provide a home for any offcuts from the pork, I spent a happy fifteen minutes or so with a very sharp knife, trimming and cubing.

I don't really know what it is about trimming up meat, but I really enjoy it.  It may be the conversion of what appears to be a fairly "useless for the cause" chunk of meat into "perfect for the cause" pieces, but I find it really satisfying.  So do the dogs.  *chuckle*  In fact, Dustbin no. 1 - Jonty the Saluki - will appear out of nowhere as soon as he hears the butchery knife being removed from the knife block.

Getting back to the recipe, the end result was absolutely cracking.  I served it with some creamy mashed Maris Piper potatoes, Tenderstem broccoli, carrots and peas, for our Sunday dinner.  Even cautious hubby declared that it was "delicious" and cleared his plate.

It was one of those simple dishes that isn't made up of a huge amount of ingredients, but every ingredient just works with all the others.  There was no need to think "next time, I'd add this or leave that out", it was just perfect right the way it was.  Sometimes, those simple recipes are just the best.  So it was with this one.


Ingredients :

2 tbsp rapeseed oil
1kg pork shoulder, trimmed and cubed
2 onions, sliced
2 celery sticks, cut into 1cm pieces
3 small parsnips, cut into chunky pieces
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp plain flour
330ml bottle of cider
500ml approx of pork or chicken stock.

Method :

1.   Heat 1 tbsp of the rapeseed oil in a frying pan until very hot, then add the cubes of pork and quickly brown on all sides.  Try to achieve a good colour on the cubes, but without burning.  Decant the cubes into your slow cooker (or crockpot), turn to low and replace the lid.

2.  Reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining tablespoonful of rapeseed oil to the frying pan and add the onions, celery and bay leaves.  Cook until the onions are softened and beginning to turn golden brown.  The celery should have softened by now too.  Decant the lot into the slow cooker and replace the lid.

3.  Put the parsnip pieces into the frying pan and stir fry them until they have achieved some colour on at least two sides, then decant them into the slow cooker and replace the lid.

4.  To the frying pan, add the cider and the stock and season well with freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of salt.

5.  While the liquid is heating up, place the flour into a small bowl, add a tablespoonful or so of water and mix until all the lumps are gone.  Drizzle this into the cider/stock mixture and stir consistently to prevent lumps forming.   The gravy should begin to thicken, so continue to stir until you are happy with the consistency.

6.  Decant the gravy into the slow cooker and stir the contents to mix it through and settle them into an even layer.  Turn the slow cooker to high, replace the lid and leave it to chuckle for the next 5 hours.

7.  Before serving, taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.  Then check that the gravy is the correct consistency for your taste.  If the gravy requires further thickening, then place a tablespoonful of cornflour into a small bowl.  Slake it by adding a small amount of water and drizzle it into the slow cooker, stirring quickly all the time.

Serve with mashed potato, carrots and a green vegetable of your choice.

Printable version.


  1. oh god, anything in the slow cooker is genius but this pork shoulder stew is a thing of beauty! Divine!

    1. Thanks, Dom! It's definitely time to break the slow cooker back out of retirement. LOL

  2. OH.. wow.. I will have to try this. Although I am in the U.S. I can get a pork Shoulder and the butcher does all the trimming for me..

    I think I can make this all up and put it into 2 large Freezer bags and freeze till time to use.. I could half cook the veggies and place the cut up pork in a smaller freezer bag and freeze. Which really saves time and allows me to have meals all during the Month

    1. I am absolutely sure that it would freeze fine in the made-up version, Barbara. I don't have the original recipe any more, but I'm sure it suggested to make double and freeze half.

  3. Great recipe! I used to make it with a regular beer. I'll try with cider as well.

    1. Oh do! Pork goes so well with cider, it'd be a shame not to. :)

  4. Yummy slow cooker dish - I am going to have to get one really soon! Thanks for linking it in to Food on Friday. Cheers


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