When fall comes around, I get my slow cooker out of summer storage the same week I take my sweaters out of storage. The cool air triggers my need to slow cook. I love that because using a slow cooker is a breeze – prep for this recipe is only 10 minutes! – and it also keeps meat juicy and often gives you protein, veggies, and sauce in one pot. It’s the easiest cooking around!
And this is one of my favorite recipes for the slow cooker: Slow Cooked Spicy Pork with Sweet Potato and Butternut Squash. I love pork and I don’t make it half as much as I should. I find cooking pork in the oven is a tricky thing – it’s either raw or dry and there’s a very thin line of perfection between the two. But this recipe takes that problem away. All the juices are kept inside the slow cooker – nothing evaporates as it cooks – and the result it a perfectly juicy pork dish.
I eat sweet potatoes year round but there is no doubt that sweet potatoes and definitely butternut squash are often associated with fall. I got on a kick on making butternut squash soup for a few years, right when fall started, and freezing the rest to eat throughout fall and winter. But finally a year ago I got a little tired of soup and looked for other recipes with butternut squash – and this was one of my finds.
I love the flavors of this dish. Cinnamon, chili flakes, and cumin give this an amazingly warm, subtly spicy (up the chili flakes if you like it spicier; cut down on them if you don’t!) flavor that is reminiscent of a soup I once had in a small village in Mexico. It’s not your typical American Mexican food spice and flavor…it’s much more complex than that, with a hint of sweetness from the cinnamon.
And those spices do more than make your food taste good. I let this recipe cook on low for about 10 hours, so I put it all together before I leave for work in the morning, turn it on, and when I get home, the aroma of spices and pork fill my house with delicious flavor. It makes the whole place feel warmer so when it’s a rainy and cold fall day, having Spicy Pork with Sweet Potato and Butternut Squash makes coming home that much better.
This recipe is also really healthy. The pork of course gives you a ton of protein, but is generally low in fat, so it’s a great choice. Sweet potatoes and butternut squash are both high in vitamin A and vitamin C (great to keep your spirits up in the dark days of winter!) and the sweet potatoes are high in fiber, too.
So the next time you pull out your slow cooker and are contemplating what delicious ingredients to toss in, think about the fabulous things you can do with some pork, a few spices and herbs, and sweet potatoes and butternut squash.
- 2 pounds pork roast, cubed
- 1 pound butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
- 1 pound sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
- 2 medium red onions, cut into wedges
- 1 cup homemade chicken stock or 1 cup hot water and 1 homemade instant bouillon cube
- 1 tsp chili flakes
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp cumin
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ¼ tsp salt
- 2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
- In a large Dutch oven or slow cooker place all the ingredients except parsley and toss to combine. Cover with a lid and cook for 6-8 hours on low or 3-4 hours on high.
- Remove the lid, adjust the taste with more salt if needed, sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve.
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