Technique: Slow Cooking Without a Slow Cooker

After reading Emma's Ultimate Cheater Pulled Pork recipe last week, I was craving homemade pulled pork, but was saddened by the fact that, without a slow cooker, it seemed beyond my reach. I did some digging, however, and learned that there are some easy workarounds for this dilemma, and that my days of being stymied by slow cooker recipes are behind me.

As pointed out in two threads (here and here) that I discovered at the discussion forums on Chocolate & Zucchini, people have been slow cooking since long before slow cookers were invented. In fact, it was argued that it's easier to regulate the heat in an oven because it has more settings than the average slow cooker.

A few tips for slow cooking without a slow cooker:

  • For pulled pork, recommended temperatures and cooking times ranged from 8 hours at 250 degrees F to overnight at 200 degrees F.
  • When the pork has finished cooking, use a meat thermometer to ensure that it has reached an internal temperature of at least 190 degrees F.
  • As for what kind of pot to use, most commenters agreed that a heavy casserole dish or Dutch oven would do the job nicely. One person particularly recommended using a cast-iron Dutch oven for its ability to evenly distribute heat and for the fact that it supposedly imparts a better flavor on the food.
  • According to one commenter, using the lid of the Dutch oven is, surprisingly (at least to me) optional.

Personally, I don't feel comfortable with leaving the oven on for 8 hours while I'm away from the house, so this is one of those weekend-only ideas, but I'm looking forward to trying it out!

How about you? Do you have any tried and true tips for slow cooking the old-fashioned way? Or is a slow cooker the only route you'll take?

Related: Fall Weekend Cooking: Break Out the Slow Cooker!

(Image: Flickr user erin.kkr licensed for use under Creative Commons)

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