Here’s my recipe for the pork and sweet potato hash that I mentioned in Episode 231, and that my kids LOVE. The following was written for my young adult son Isaac so that he could replicate the dish in his new grownup apartment, so the level of detail is meant for a novice in the kitchen. Enjoy! -Meagan
This sounds a lot more complicated than it is, so just have confidence! The main two things to keep in mind are: 1) you want to cook the pork at a very low temperature for enough hours for it to get tender (at least 4, up to 10, some people go even longer than that), and 2) you’ll want the sweet potato to be soft on the inside and golden-brown and almost crispy on the outside. Then you mix them together and that’s basically it.
This recipe will take TIME, and it will be helpful to have a friend to help you pull everything together at the last minute, but it’s not HARD. You can easily find all this stuff at any grocery store and it makes a lot of food, cheaply.
- 1 pork butt or shoulder – may be labeled as either. Usually this cut of meat is around $3/pound on sale. The ‘”Boston Roast” will be smaller and a little pricier. The “shoulder butt” will be huge, like 7 lbs, and cheaper. Either one can work for this recipe but the “butt” is a bit more forgiving and better to feed a crowd.
- Spices – you can totally just buy a Mexican spice blend if you want to cheat a little. I use a taco seasoning blend that came in a big bottle I bought at Meijer. Otherwise you can do a blend of cumin, paprika, garlic powder, chili powder, etc. I recommend just buying a mix the first time you make this and experimenting later.
- Kosher salt or sea salt – you can use regular if that’s all you have but be careful, it’s easy to over-salt with regular table salt
- One large yellow onion and 4 cloves garlic – not 100% necessary, but smells and tastes so good…
- Olive oil – don’t worry about extra virgin. Regular cooking oil will work too.
- Some kind of liquid to braise (cook) the pork in – can be plain water, but it’ll add more flavor if you use broth or stock, beer (nonalcoholic works), white wine vinegar, etc. If you use something with a strong flavor like vinegar, water it down. I like to throw a halved lime or lemon into the pot with it. This is a REALLY flexible recipe so just use what you have on hand.
- 2-3 sweet potatoes
- Dutch oven
- Good kitchen knife
- Something to stir/flip food with – I like tongs for this and you can buy them at the dollar store
This recipe is best when the meat cooks alllll day. I usually do mine for 6 hours but it can go longer as long as you keep the heat really low. So you could prep everything the night before, then put it in the oven before you go to work and then take the meat out and finish the next day.
FIRST: Prep all your ingredients. Peel the onion and slice into rings. Smash the garlic by laying your knife over it and using your fist to smash the blade down on the garlic – the skins will slide off easily and then you can mince it or chop it or leave it whole. Now preheat the oven. Temperature depends on how large the cut of meat is and how long you intend to let it cook. If you have 4 hours, and it’s a 4 pound roast, 225 degrees is probably good. If you want to leave it cooking all day while you’re at work, I’d set it lower, like 180.
SECOND: Cook the onion and garlic. Put a little olive oil in your skillet, warm over medium heat, then when the pan is hot, toss the onions in and let them cook for a few minutes, moving them around in the pan/flipping them over, until they are translucent and starting to get golden brown on the edges. Then add the garlic and cook another 2 minutes or so, stirring often. Watch out, garlic can burn fast and burned garlic is very sad! When the onions and garlic are done remove from heat and set aside.
THIRD: Sear the pork. Put a little olive oil in the dutch oven and put on the stovetop over medium-high heat. Salt the pork shoulder/butt all over. When the oil is hot, place it in the pan and let it sear for 5-6 minutes, then flip it to another side, and so on until all the sides are browned. Remove from heat, and add a little liquid to the pan (water, stock, whatever you’re using.) With a spoon or spatula, scrape up some of the browned stuff at the bottom. Sprinkle a tablespoon or so of the spice mix all over your pork, turning as you go with tongs or a fork. Now add enough liquid to cover the pork shoulder about halfway, throw in your lime or lemon if you have one. Add the onions and garlic to the top of the pork shoulder, put the lid on the Dutch oven and put the whole thing in the oven.
FOURTH: Wait. Just let the meat cook until about 45-60 minutes before you want to serve it.
FIFTH: When there’s about an hour until dinnertime, remove the pork from the oven. Do not take the lid off the pot! It will continue to cook and get more tender for the next few minutes. Now turn the oven up to 400 degrees. SIXTH: cut the sweet potato into hunks (you can leave the skins on.) Smaller chunks will cook faster. Spread them on a cookie sheet and drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt.
SEVENTH: Put the sweet potatoes in the oven at 400 degrees and let them roast for 30 minutes or so until it’s just starting to get golden brown. Watch it closely because they will burn quickly!
EIGHTH: While the sweet potatoes are roasting, use two forks to pull the pork apart. It should easily fall apart. Put it in a bowl or other dish. There will be a lot of fat to work around so this may take some time.
NINTH: Put some oil in your skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches if you need to (You want to make sure all the meat in the pan has contact with the skillet surface), fry the pork up in the skillet. This will give it a little bit of a crispy texture and remove some of the excess moisture from braising. I like to salt and season the pork again at this stage since the spices will really be able to get into the crevices.
TENTH: When the sweet potatoes are beginning to brown, remove from the oven and mix them in with the pork on the skillet. Turn the heat down to medium, place the lid on the skillet and let the pork and sweet potato meld for a few minutes while the sweet potato finishes cooking and getting soft.
SERVE AND EAT! I usually serve it with pancakes and/or a few eggs fried over medium, and it’s even better the next day.