Ginger Pork in Lettuce Cups
In this easy slow cooker dish, succulent ginger-braised pork shoulder is shredded and served in crisp lettuce leaves for a fresh presentation. A splash of rice vinegar and the addition of chopped water chestnuts fill every bite with bright crunch. These morsels make perfect appetizer-sized portions.
- 3-lb (1.5-kg) piece boneless pork shoulder
- 1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml) beef or chicken stock
- 4 Tbs. (2 fl. oz./60 ml) low-sodium soy sauce
- 4 Tbs. (2 fl. oz./60 ml) dry sherry
- 4 whole star anise
- 4 thick slices fresh ginger, unpeeled
- 1 can (8 oz./250 g) water chestnuts, drained and coarsely chopped
- 1/4 cup (1/3 oz./10 g) coarsely chopped fresh cilantro or flat-leaf parsley
- 1 to 2 tsp. rice vinegar
- 1 to 2 small heads butter lettuce
Trim the pork shoulder of its excess fat and cut the pork into 3 pieces of equal size. Place the pork in a slow cooker and add the stock. Drizzle with 2 Tbs. each of the soy sauce and sherry, then sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. salt. Cover and cook on the low setting for 2 hours. Turn the pork over, baste with the pan juices, re-cover and cook for 2 hours more.
Turn the pork over and baste again. Drizzle the remaining 2 Tbs. each soy sauce and sherry over the pork and add the star anise and ginger. Re-cover and cook for 3 to 4 hours more, basting with the pan juices every hour or so if possible. The meat should be very tender.
Uncover, increase the setting to high and cook until the braising liquid is slightly reduced, basting the pork frequently, about 30 minutes more. Using 2 forks, shred the pork while still in the slow cooker, mixing it with the braising liquid.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the shredded pork to a bowl. Add the water chestnuts, cilantro and rice vinegar to taste. Toss to mix well. Separate the butter lettuce into 12 to 20 whole, cuplike leaves. Mound a spoonful of the pork mixture into each lettuce cup and sprinkle with cilantro. Arrange the lettuce cups on individual plates or a platter and serve immediately. Serves 8 to 10.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma The New Slow Cooker: Fresh Recipes for the Modern Cook, by Brigit Binns (Weldon Owen, 2010)