Whole30 7 Day Meal Plan – Day Six: A Few Good Spices

This winter has so far bestowed Sydney-Siders with an exorbitant amount of blissfully sunny days. Surprisingly for June, I have found myself outside enjoying the midday sun on many occasions with naked arms and shoulders. I am very fortunate to have a suntrap of a balcony, which is largely protected from cool winds. The tiles and walls of the balcony radiate the warmth of the sun consequently raising the ambient temperature by 5 degrees Celsius.

Today was not one of these days. It was wet, so very very wet. It was blustery. It was in fact perfect! Today I was making pulled pork carnitas in my slow cooker. Who doesn’t love a slow cooker and a stormy day? Sitting inside the house all day with the aromas wafting from the kitchen protecting you from the elements?

Breakfast: Kitchen Sink Scrambled Eggs (leftover pork chops and greens, apple sauce)

I wasn’t so fond of the pork and lettuce mixed through the egg, the whole dish was dry and tasteless. The apple sauce definitely didn’t work for me. It was only edible once i removed the offending apple sauce and spooned on a some pesto.

Pros: Quicker than baking a quiche

Cons: Pork chops, greens, apple sauce in egg

Rating: 1/10

Would I cook it again: Never.

Lunch: No Fuss Salmon Cakes, leftover Butternut Squash soup, Green Beans with Mushrooms, Onions and Peppers

Despite a disappointing breakfast, which I had quite late, I wasn’t very hungry for anymore food. Additionally, I hadn’t made any of the original dishes from which I was to heat up the leftovers for lunch today.

Dinner: Baked Sweet Potato stuffed with Pulled Pork Carnitas, and drizzled with Avocado Mayonnaise

I adore pulled pork. Pulled pork embodies two of of my favourite things, lardy comfort food and the gathering of friends (a slow cooked shoulder of pork can feed an army, so it provides the perfect opportunity to invite around a battalion of your friends and with little fuss you can feed the hungry horde). Unfortunately my method of cooking pulled pork, in addition to an interminable list of herbs and spices, involves BBQ sauce (preferably plum BBQ sauce lovingly made by my friends mother), which of course is a no-go due these days. This was the meal I was looking forward to the most from the 7 day plan. Would it disappoint I wondered?

When I cook pulled pork I usually place the entire shoulder in the slow cooker and cook on low for 10 hours. The Whole30 recipe instructed me instead to dice the pork and brown it first. This reduced the cooking time to 8 hours. I was keen to see whether these steps were necessary in comparison to my throw it all in and forget about it technique.

The recipe called for the barest of spices; chilli and cinnamon. I could feel the anxiety settling in, after all this recipe was going to make a lot of pork. I knew I’d be eating it for days and it would probably fill my minuscule freezer in re-heatable individual sized portions. What if it lacked flavour, or worse was too porky? In the end I decided that I would add some cumin and coriander (because they are incontestable pulled pork essentials). I bravely stepped away from the cocoa, multitude of paprikas, and even the not-much loved oregano languishing in the spice drawer. I only added 2 teaspoons of each (which probably amounts to a tastes bud placebo). I’m glad I broke my own rule for this week, and didn’t follow the recipe to the T. After all, isn’t the fun about breaking the rules? Who was going to catch me? I was the only one there, and I was turning a blind eye.

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All in all, I liked the different texture browning the diced pork provided. It gave it a little more of a “roasted” feel to chomp on. It was much less juicy than slow cooking a shoulder in its entirety however.
The recipe made a massive amount of pork (900 grams raw), in my mind much more than required for the two meals in the meal plan. I’m sure I will probably get triple the amount of meals out of this.

The pork was served on a roasted sweet potato (or kumera as we call it in New Zealand). This was then topped with Avocado Mayonnaise. It took a few mouthfuls to get used to the mayonnaise, but once I had grown use to it, I realised to know it is to love it. Not surprisingly, the recipe called for far more than was required, however I am planning on piling this onto everything for the next few days. Next time I make it, and there will be a next time, I will definitely be adding fresh coriander which could take this from pretty awesome to fabulously awesome.

Pros: Dicing and browning the meat provided an interesting texture, and reduced cooking time. Avocado Mayo rocks – I almost didn’t miss sour cream! Reheats and freezes well. Provides a great base from which to experiment.

Cons: Not a lot of meat juice. Required additional spices.

Rating: 8/10

Would I cook it again: Definitely.

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