Pulled Pork Over Sautéed Kale and Acorn Squash

Crockpot pulled pork, and seasonal squash, YUM!  I have tried several ways of cooking pork loin and the crockpot is by far the easiest, but it takes a little finesse.  Follow a few tips and tricks and you will have an amazingly juicy pulled pork with a nice golden crisp on the outside.

Here is what you need:

5 lb pork loin

1 1/2 Teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon chili powder (add a half teaspoon if you want to cut down on spice) add chili flakes if you want even more spice

1 teaspoon whole fennel seeds

1 teaspoon cumin

1 lime

1 onion

1 teaspoon Montreal seasoning or lightly dust with corse ground pepper if you want to cut back on salt

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder or 2 whole cloves roasted garlic

2 Tablespoons brown or coconut sugar. I used coconut sugar

1 acorn squash cut into rounds

1 cup fresh kale per serving

Great with pineapple-mango salsa and balsamic glaze. (Balsamic glaze is sweet and syrup like in consistency)

Your pork loin should cook in the crockpot for several hours, so get started on that first.  I usually start mine at night before bed and place it on the lowest setting through the night.  8 hours later it is already falling apart into its own juices.  Place your pork loin in your crockpot and dust with seasonings.  Once covered in the spices, rub down the loin, so it is fully covered and place it back in the crockpot fat down. Squeeze half the lime over the top and cover with the lid to let it cook.  You don’t need to add any additional liquid to the pot.  You will cook it until the loin can easily be pulled apart with a fork.

Once your loin is cooked, start cooking your acorn squash.  It will take at least 30 mins.  Cut your squash into rounds, brush with oil, lightly season with salt and place on a baking sheet in the oven at 350 degrees for about 30 mins, or until soft.  probe with a fork to test.  While it is in the oven, remove your pork loin from the crockpot and shred it.  place in a hot frying pan and begin to seer the meat.  You are adding a crisp to the outside of the meat.  The secret to it is the juices from the crock pot.  Once you have your pan scorching hot and the meat has begun to sizzle, add a spoon full of juice at a time.  Try not to stir or flip the meat too much, just let it sit. Stirring too much will cause it to cud. ( you know, like the consistency of grass chewed by a cow?) no bueno! The juices will keep the meat from drying out and add additional flavor to the meat.  The seasoning doesn’t have the opportunity to penetrate the meat while it is cooking in its whole form, so this is a great way to drive that flavor into the meat.  When finished, you should have a nice golden brown crust on the outside of the shredded pork. Before serving squeeze the remaining half lime over the top, stirring the meat while squeezing the lime, so as to coat it evenly. 

When your squash is finished, remove from the oven and begin to sauté your kale.  Make sure to remove the stems from the kale and just cook the leaves.  saute in a little oil and a spoon full of the crockpot juices to combine the flavors .  You don’t need to cook the kale too long.  its a very resilient leafy vegetable, but will lose some of its flavor if over cooked.  Once softened, remove from the pan and mix with a spoon full of greek yogurt for added flavor and texture.  shhh, my little secret. If you have read this far into the recipe, it means you care enough about the detail. So this little nugget is yours! If Greek yogurt isn’t your thing, use sour cream, but honestly you won’t regret following this step. 

Once sautéed and mixed with the yogurt, spoon the kale into the center of the acorn squash. Top with sautéed pulled pork. I added pineapple-mango salsa to the top of mine and a drizzle of balsamic glaze for a POP of flavor. 

I hope you enjoy this one as much as I enjoyed making it! Yum!