Roasts, my go to convenience food

Today we continue our series on using all the cuts in a half hog, after looking at pork chop ideas last week. As one of the most easy-to-use cuts (in my opinion), now we explore Pork Roasts! As a busy mom, farmer, homeschool teacher, etc., I love anything super easy. I’m sure you can relate.

When I search for recipes and food ideas, just like at the grocery store, I get in and get out quickly. I get my ideas and then run off to make supper. I hope these recipes or ideas will be a quick guide and an asset to those of you looking how to support small farms and your budget by purchasing a half or whole hog.

First, it may be helpful for you to know the difference between pork shoulder and pork loin roasts. Here is an article that explains the cuts a little more: “A Complete Guide to Pork Cuts”, but here’s a quick synopsis:

  • Loin – the most tender cut. It is good for quick cooking at about 400 F because it doesn’t require a long time to become tender
  • Shoulder (aka pork butt) – cook slow on low heat (about 225 F for 6-8 hours).

Let’s get right to it.

Pork Loin Roast ideas (and how I do it):

  • Roast with veggies in the oven. The best way to cook a loin roast is thawed, rubbed with spices, and placed in a roaster/cast iron pot in the oven. Typically it will take an hour for a 3-4 pound roast to get up to 145 F if cooked at 400 F, but testing it at 45 minutes would be best because an overcooked loin roast is not so juicy (use it for soup or casseroles if this happens). As with most roasts, it’s best to pan sear it/brown the outsides in an oiled (or larded) pan on high heat for a few minutes before sticking it in the oven to cook. This keeps the juiciness of the meat intact. Cook it up and serve with your favorite side dish.
  • Roast with veggies in the slow cooker. There have been many times I’ve put one of these roasts in the slow cooker with some veggies and just walked away. I’ll typically stick them in still frozen because I forget to pull it out the night before. Carrots, root veggies, onion, or potatoes are our favorites. Sometimes it’s fun to add a little cooking wine. Sometimes a little tomato sauce changes things up for us. Typically it’s just meat and veggies though. We’ll stick it on a plate once it’s tender and it’s a meal for us. It’s best to not over cook a tenderloin roast, so check the temperature after about four or five hours (depending on size) to see how much longer you’ll need to cook it.
  • Another one of our old favorites for pork roast is Peanut Butter Pork with rice.
  • Here’s a list of slow cooker recipes to try too: Slowcooker 365
  • Recipes I’d like to try some day:

Pork Shoulder ideas (and how I do it):

  • Pulled pork (for fajitas, carnitas, taco meat, BBQ pork, casseroles, soups or pulled pork sandwiches). Chop an onion and line the bottom of a slow cooker with it. Rub pork with your favorite spices for pulled pork, such as bbq, fajita blend, tandori, etc. Some like to add pineapple or bbq sauce. I’d do this in the last hour of cooking though. Cover and cook on low heat (225 – 250 F) for 6 to 8 hours depending on the size of your roast. An hour before you hope to eat it, open to separate the meat with two forks or with a knife. Cover and cook until tender. This makes a wonderful amount of meat for a large crowd or for various meals throughout the week. Typically I will cook it with basic spices (like garlic, paprika, and pepper) and use it for tacos, casseroles, soups, nachos, pizza or pulled pork sandwiches.
  • Roast with veggies. Same as above but best made in a crock pot.
  • Soups or Chili. I love using part of a roast for making a hearty meat and veggies soup, white bean or traditional chili, or even Pho Vietnamese soup.
  • Casseroles. These are a Minnesota comfort food. Enchiladas, shepherds pie or pot pie are my favorites. Look up “pulled pork casserole” or “pulled pork hotdish” depending on your cultural preference and you’ll get enough options for the year I’m sure.
  • Recipes I’d like to try some day:

Ham Roast:

  • My favorite way to cook a ham roast (not a ham) is in a slow cooker with a jar of sauerkraut and some apple sauce. It’s hard to beat that, so that’s my only idea for you.
  • Ham roasts are normally a bit tougher and are best marinaded, brined, or slow cooked.

More tips:

  • Save the bones if there are a lot and make some pork stock for soups.
  • Don’t forget to check out our recipes page for more ideas.
  • If you want something more gourmet, check out Gordon Ramsay at youtube.com. Don’t worry, he’s quite tame in his how-to videos.
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