I seriously believe that I am under-using my slow cooker. Blame it on a bad experience the first time I used it. I followed the instructions in the manual that said there is no need to add a lot of liquid because the meat’s natural juices are enough. I also paid attention to the part that said adding fat to the meat or using fatty meat is not recommended because fat raises the temperature and that might make everything boil over. So, obedient me chose a fatless meat cut, added very little liquid to meat and the result was a disaster. The meat was oh, so tender for sure but it was also dry like cardboard.
So, I threw away the instruction manual and started doing the exact opposite of everything it said. I only used fatty meat and added a substantial amount of liquid. And what do you know? Suddenly, my slow cooker was doing exactly what I hoped it would. And I discovered that it was especially good for cooking large pieces of meat like cross cuts of beef shank and pork hock.
This dish is essentially pata tim. Think of it as a modern way to cook a dish that usually requires a lot of minding lest the sauce dries up before the pork is done.
You can use fresh or canned baby corn. If using canned, there is no need to cook it in water.
- 1 pork hock, about 1.5 kg.
- half a head of garlic
- a 2-inch piece of ginger
- 2 shallots
- ½ tsp. of peppercorns
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 star anise
- 1 and ½ c. of meat broth
- soy sauce, to taste
- sugar, to taste
- 1 tbsp. of tapioca (or potato or corn) starch
- 12 baby corns
- 2 to 4 clusters of bok choy
- Preheat the oven (a turbo broiler works too) to 475F. If your oven temperature can go higher than that, set it at the highest temperature.
- Place the pork hock on a rack and roast until the skin blisters, around 45 to 55 minutes.
- Transfer the pork hock to the slow cooker. Throw in the garlic, ginger, shallots, peppercorns, bay leaves and star anise. Pour in the broth. Season with soy sauce and sugar (the amount of each depends on how the broth had been seasoned; just find the balance that pleases your taste buds).
- Set the slow cooker to HIGH. After an hour, reduce the heat to LOW. Cook the pork hock for another five hours, or a total of six hours in the slow cooker.
- About 30 minutes before the cooking time is up, dissolve the starch in ¼ c. of water and pour into the slow cooker in a thin stream.
- Cook the baby corn and bok choy in salted water, then drain.
- To serve, scoop out the pork hock and transfer to a serving bowl. Strain the thickened sauce and pour over the meat. Arrange the baby corn and bok choy on the side.