Though easy to assemble, this simple braise has a complex combination of sweet, salty, bitter and spicy flavors. If you like lots of greens, you can add a second bunch of kale, but you will need to stir it three or four times as it cooks. Serve over soba or other Asian noodles and top with a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds.
Honey-Ginger Pork with Braised Kale
4 to 4 1⁄2 lb. (2 to 2.25 kg) boneless pork shoulder, cut into 3 equal pieces
1⁄3 cup (3 fl. oz./80 ml) mirin or medium-dry white wine
1⁄4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml) tamari or low-sodium soy sauce
3 Tbs. honey, warmed
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1 heaping Tbs. peeled and grated fresh ginger
1⁄2 yellow onion, chopped
1 jalapeño chile, sliced (optional)
2 Tbs. canola oil, if including the optional browning step
1 large bunch kale, preferably lacinato kale, ribs removed and leaves chopped
Season the pork pieces with salt. In a small bowl, stir together the mirin, soy sauce, honey, garlic, ginger, onion and the chile, if using.
If you want to brown the pork before braising it, put a flameproof slow-cooker insert on the stove top over medium-high heat, then add the oil and warm until hot. (Alternatively, if your slow-cooker insert isn’t flameproof, you can do this step in a large frying pan.) Working in batches if necessary to avoid crowding, add the pork pieces and sear them on the first side, without moving them, until well browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the pieces and sear on the second side until well browned, 3 to 4 minutes longer.
Transfer the insert to the slow cooker (or transfer the contents of the frying pan to the slow cooker) and pour the mirin-soy mixture over the pork. If you have skipped the browning step, put the pork in the slow cooker and pour in the mirin-soy mixture. Toss to coat the pork evenly with the mixture. Cover and cook on the low-heat setting for 8 hours. About 1 hour before the pork is ready, stir in the kale. The pork should be very tender and the kale should be tender.
Transfer the pork to a cutting board. Break the pork into large chunks, discarding any large pieces of fat. Using a large spoon, skim off and discard any fat from the surface of the cooking liquid. Return the meat to the slow cooker and stir gently to combine.
Spoon the pork, kale and cooking liquid onto a platter or individual plates. Serve immediately. Serves 6 to 8.
Learn to make the most of your slow cooker with this and other inspiring recipes in our Quick Slow Cooking, by Kim Laidlaw.