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Slow-Cooker Italian Pork Roast

Posted Oct 16 2012 9:13am
Oct 16, 2012 Posted by on Oct 16, 2012 in Blog, Meats/Eggs, Recipes | 25 comments

There was a cosmic convergence among five factors to bring this recipe post into your kitchens:

1. Nom Nom Paleo did a cooking demo of her incredibly, lusciously delicious Slow Cooker Kalua Pig at our paleo throwdown in Estes Park, Colorado — and her 3-ingredient recipe inspired me to think about how I could adapt her technique to some other flavors.

2. I’ve had to jettison spices this month while I experiment with the autoimmune protocol for paleo.

3. I’m playing around with herbs since my spice playground is verboten.

4. I’m pushing the boundaries of using as a roasting vessel. I have a passionate dislike for stew and soups made in the slow cooker — they just don’t caramelize enough for me, and I feel like they’re always too watery — but I’m loving my slow cooker as a countertop oven.

5. Dave just acquired a new camera, and he’s snapping pics all over the place so he can deepen his relationship with it before we start official photography for Well Fed 2: More Paleo Recipes For People Who Love To Eat… which is why we have along-the-way photos in this post, in addition to the finished, tender, shiny, scrumptious pork.

I started with a 7-pound pork shoulder roast. Mine had a bone, but boneless will work, too.

Then I picked out some nice chubby garlic cloves and cut them into slivers…

I mixed Penzeys Italian Herb Mix with salt…

Stuck the garlic slivers into my piggy friend…

Then gave him a salt+herb massage. People pay big bucks for that kind of loving rub-down!

Straight into the slow cooker — no fuss, no muss, no liquid…

And 16 hours later, it was fall-apart tender and infused with flavor.

Serves a lot! | Prep 10 min. | Cook 16 hours, give or take

5-7 pound pork roast, boneless or bone in (shoulder, Boston butt… ribs would work, too)
5-7 cloves garlic, cut into slivers
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon Penzeys Italian Herb Mix (or 1 teaspoon each dried oregano+dried basil+dried rosemary)

1. Pat the pork roast dry with paper towels. Use a small sharp knife to make slits all over the pork, then insert the garlic slivers into the slits.

2. In a small bowl, mix the salt and dried herbs, using your fingers to crush the leaves and mix them with the salt. Rub the mixture all over the pork roast, working into the nooks and crannies.

3. Place the pork roast in the slow cooker and cook on low for 14 to 16 hours. As the pork roasts, the pan of the slow cooker will fill with liquid. You have two choices: (1) let it go and pour off the liquid when the meat is finished cooking; or (2) halfway through cooking, remove the lid and carefully pour off the liquid. Put the lid back on the pork and let it continue roasting; refrigerate the liquid in a glass bowl/jar or BPA-free container so the grease can separate from the luscious juice. I like to pour off the liquid so the outside of the roast gets crispier.

4. When the meat is finished roasting, it’s fall-apart tender. You can either shred it with forks, mixing the crusty bits with the interior, tender bits — or break it into serving-size hunks. It’s crazy-good either way. Remember the juice you put in the fridge? Now you can easily skim off the excess fat, re-heat the juice in a pan on the stove, and use it as a sauce for the cooked meat.

Moroccan-Spiced Pork Chops
Scotch Eggs
Czech Meatballs
Vampire-Fighting Pork Stew
Cook’s Illustrated BBQ Pork
Citrus Carnitas
5-Spice Slow-Cooker Pork Ribs

  1. Fay says:

    That looks delicious! Unfortunately, I don’t eat pork. What cuts of beef do you think might work with this? I also hate crockpot anything, for the same reasons you mentioned above, so I’m eager to try this!

    • Mel says:

      I made it with a grass-fed beef chuck roast, and it was really tasty. Basically, any roast cut will work, I think. The low, slow heat is pretty forgiving. I’ve also used this technique on stew meat, and it worked well.

  2. Sarah says:

    That looks so good! Perfect for cold days :)

  3. Melissa Clayton says:

    I live in Louisiana – where can I find Penzey’s spices? Do they sell it in major grocery chains or should i search for it on-line? If I wanted to maybe make this today (because it looks so delicious) what could i use as a substitution?

    • Mel says:

      You can buy Penzeys online at — or any store-bought Italian Herb Blend will work.

      Also, as I said in the recipe, you can replace the herb blend with this:
      1 teaspoon each dried oregano+dried basil+dried rosemary

  4. Danielle H says:

    This looks yummy!! Do you think this could work with beef? For a Italian Beef recipe? If so, what cut of beef? If not, do you have an Italian beef crockpot recipe? Hubby has been craving Italian beef so I need to find a yummy and (possibly) whole 30 approved recipe :)

    • Mel says:

      I made it with a grass-fed beef chuck roast, and it was really tasty. Basically, any roast cut will work, I think. The low, slow heat is pretty forgiving. I’ve also used this technique on stew meat, and it worked well.

      • Danielle H says:

        Thanks! Would you put any peppers in? Also, I have been meaning to ask you, what are must have blends that you would recommend ordering from Penzeys? I have been wanting to place and order but just not sure what to get! I know the Itallian seasoning will be on the list for this recipe :) .

        • Mel says:

          I’m not sure that veg would work very well with this technique — but there’s no harm in trying it.

          Here’s a whole post I did on my spice cabinet…

          And here’s a new one on the herbs I just stocked up on…

  5. This looks SO GOOD. I’ve never seen anything that crispy looking come out of a slow cooker! I’m definitely going to try the longer cooking time, and pouring off the liquid. Mmm, I can taste it already…

  6. StaceyO says:

    Simply brilliant! Going on the menu for next week! Also, glad to hear about the 2nd Well Fed book. We are living out of the first and love it!!!

  7. JennF says:

    This is so perfect! I’ve had a huge (just under 8 lb) pastured pork roast in my freezer forever because I didn’t know what to do with a bone-in roast that big. Now I know! I’ll be making your recipe this weekend. Thanks!

  8. I’m thinking of trying this with a pork tenderloin that’s sitting in my freezer and just monitoring the cooking time so I don’t end up with cinders. Sounds delish! Glad to hear about the new book but here’s a suggestion for the publishers– spiral-bound. I use mine so much it is literally falling apart– they just don’t bind books like they used to. I’m going to take all the pages out and put them in plastic sleeves in a binder, then I can integrate my new Mel recipes with them.Thanks for the post!

    • Mel says:

      “The publishers” are my husband and me… we’re Smudge Publishing, and the bindings on our recent printings are AWESOME. It was just the first printing that had some problems, which isn’t unusual.

      Well Fed 2 will probably be available both as a spiral bound AND as a lay-flat. I personally hate spiral, but I know other people like it.

    • Mel says:

      Also: pork tenderloin is VERY lean. You might want to sear it first in a cast iron skillet, then finish it in the crockpot and definitely don’t leave it in there too long, or it will get dry. And you might want to add some chicken broth to the crockpot. The technique described above will NOT work for a lean cut like tenderloin.

  9. Jenny says:

    I’ll have to figure this out — my crockpot only goes up to 10 hours on low.

    • Jenifer says:

      Same with mine, Jenny. As a matter of fact, it says 10 hours, but when I tried to make the kahlua pork, it actually switched to warm an hour or so BEFORE the 10 hour mark!

      Very frustrating!

  10. SophieE says:

    Do you think this kimd of liquid-less roasting in the slow cooker would work with beef cheeks? I’ve been thinking of doing a teriyaki beef cheeks type of this but didn’t want it to be liquidy like all the other beek cheek stews I’ve made. Thought this might be a good way.

  11. Karen says:

    ooh well fed 2!
    YAY how long do we have to wait for it? So exciting!

  12. Gary says:

    Just eaten this, but lamb shoulder for 8 hours. Simply amazing.
    Roll on Sunday for the pork shoulder for 14 hours. Tastiest meat you’ll ever eat, and all that lovely rendered fat for cooking, yum.
    Great recipe Melissa.

  13. erin malone says:

    Just made a modified version of this – pork roast, stuffed with garlic, sprig of rosemary, and then a dozen small (2″) tomatoes halved and 1 cup water in the slow cooker for 6 hours. It was fantastic.

    Thanks for sharing all your good recipes.

  14. Steve says:

    Great looking roast and so simple. I’ll have to switch up my standard “overnight roast” for this one week.

  15. Ian says:

    Went out and got a pork roast today, its going in tonight. Figuring on having enough to provide into, and maybe through, the weekend.

    My GF has done similar with a whole chicken. Just put it in the crock pot, no liquids added. Don’t remember how long, maybe ~5 hours? It too ended up as pull-apart goodness.

  16. Erin says:

    Please please please add a Pinterest button to your posts! I’m making a board of slow cooker and freezer Paleo meals. :) And I want to click a little P so that this one will go on that board.
    Muchas Gracias,

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melissa joulwan

Melissa "Melicious" Joulwan •

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