When the summer days are as hot as they have been lately, my appetite lessens, and I find myself desiring quick and limited labor meals. My garden is currently producing, and fresh vegetables are at my fingertips.
Bright salads consisting of grilled veggies and beautiful local summer fruit is what I crave during these months. Grilling proteins is my method of choice for warm weather, but over the weekend I fixed a beautiful local pork roast I purchased from Harris Livestock located in Volga, West Virginia.
I have made a conscious effort to lower my meat intake, primarily beef for environmental reasons. While pigs produce far less greenhouse gases than cows, I also watch my pork consumption. Purchasing meat from local farmers is ideal not only for small businesses’ economic success, but they are often a kinder option for our planet.
I believe it is necessary to remember that the food we eat and purchase affects our personal health, our healthcare system and local economies, along with countless environmental impacts. This is a primary reason I am an advocate for personal gardening, as it allows individuals the most control.
Pesticides are a continual problem in the United States, and I have become increasingly aware of this as a beekeeper. The honeybee population has suffered immensely in this country due to extremely toxic chemicals used on fruits and vegetables in order to create produce that appears flawless. If anyone gardens, you will know this is not actually how things grow. Sometimes, my cucumbers are abnormally shaped or my carrots are crooked, but they are perfectly delicious nonetheless.
I caution everyone: If fruits and vegetables appear impeccable, please think about what compromises were made throughout the growing process. It certainly is a struggle to make all the proper grocery shopping decisions, and I, too, fall short sometimes. By becoming more aware and executing changes when able we all will improve the planet’s health.
As for the pork roast roast, I infused it with Hawaiian flavors in the instant pot. The recipe I am including below also contains slow cooker and oven instructions. The pork became easily shreddable, and the flavors of soy, ginger, a little heat, sweet pineapple and acidic lime were just what a summer roast screamed for. I served the meat over jasmine rice with a pineapple mint relish.
The relish was vibrant, herby and a touch spicy from sliced chilies. Of course, there was plenty of fresh mint, as a dominant herb freshens any relish. Alternatively, this pork could be made into Hawaiian-style tacos, added to a grilled flatbread or atop of a cabbage salad. It’s versatile and certainly the way a summer roast should be done. I hope you enjoy.
Happy gardening and cooking. Peace.
Shredded Hawaiian Pork with Pineapple Mint Relish
For the pork:
3-4 pounds pork roast
3 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1 onion diced
2 hot chilies diced (I used serranos)
2 garlic cloves minced
For the sauce:
1 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup pineapple juice
Juice of 1 lime
1 inch grated fresh ginger (or 2 teaspoons ground)
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh pineapple
1 shallot finely chopped (or 3 tablespoons sweet onion)
1 hot chili sliced
3 tablespoons chopped mint
Juice of 1 lime
1 teaspoon lime zest
Flaky salt to taste
Rub pork with salt, pepper and paprika.
For the instant pot: Add seasoned pork, veg and sauce. Pressure cook for 55 minutes, quick release. Remove pork and shred, and while you do this, turn pot to sauté so the sauce thickens. Pour sauce over shredded pork.
For the slow cooker: Add seasoned pork, veg and sauce. Cook on high for 4-6 hours or 8 hours on low. Remove pork and shred. Place sauce in a saucepan over medium heat to thicken (15 minutes) and pour over pork.
For the oven: Add seasoned pork, veg and sauce. Cook in the oven at 350 degrees for 3-4 hours. Shred and pour sauce over (it doesn’t need cooked, the oven takes care of it).
For the relish, combine all ingredients.
Sara Jeran is a culinary enthusiast, gardener, beekeeper and Buckhannon native. Follow her on Instagram at @sarajstirs.