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26 July 2006

Slow-Cooker Mexican-Style Pork Stew (Cooks Illustrated)

Slow-Cooker Mexican-Style Pork Stew

Serves 6 to 8

This traditional Mexican stew features shredded pork and hominy. Hominy is a dried corn from which the hull and germ have been removed. You can find hominy in cans in the international aisle of your supermarket. Serve with tortillas, diced red onion, and wedges of lime.

5 pounds boneless country-style pork ribs , trimmed and sliced 1/4 inch thick

Table salt and ground black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 onions , chopped medium
2 tablespoons chili powder
5 cloves garlic , minced

1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes
5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 (14-ounce) cans white or yellow hominy , rinsed
2 tablespoons minced fresh oregano leaves or 2 teaspoons dried
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1. Dry the pork with paper towels, then season with salt and pepper. Heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Brown half of the pork, about 10 minutes, then add to the slow cooker. Return the skillet to medium-high heat and repeat with 2 more teaspoons oil and the remaining pork.

2. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons oil to the empty skillet and heat over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onions, chili powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook until the onions are softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 15 seconds. Stir in the tomatoes with their juice, scraping up any browned bits. Bring to a simmer, then pour into the slow cooker.

3. Add the broth, hominy, and oregano to the slow cooker. Cover and cook, on either low or high, until the meat is tender, 7 to 8 hours on low or 5 to 6 hours on high.

4. Transfer the meat to a large bowl and let cool. Let the cooking liquid settle for 5 minutes, then use a wide spoon to skim the fat off the surface. When the meat is cool enough to handle, shred it using your fingers, discarding any gristle, and add it back to the slow cooker. Before serving, stir in the cilantro and lime juice and season with salt and pepper to taste.

To Make Ahead

The night before (or a day in advance), prepare the recipe through step 2. Instead of adding the ingredients to the slow cooker, refrigerate them, but be sure to store the browned meat in one container and the vegetables and liquid in another container. In the morning, add the chilled ingredients to the slow cooker and proceed with step 3. The cooking time will run to the high end of the range given in the recipe.