Filipino pork estofado


2 lbs. deboned, spare rib pork, cubed
3 T olive oil, divided
3 whole, dried bay leaves
1 T whole peppercorn
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 star anise
1/4 c plus 1 T brown sugar, divided
1 t ginger powder
3/4 c soy sauce
1/2 c vinegar
12 pearl onions
2 plantains, peeled and cut into 2? slices
1/4 c cashews
1 c shiitake mushrooms
2 T sake
Sea salt to taste


Heat 2 T of the olive oil in a skillet. Add the pork and brown on all sides (about 3 to 5 minutes total). Remove and set aside. Next combine the bay leaves, peppercorn, garlic and star anise and wrap in cheesecloth. Add the pork, cheesecloth wrapped ingredients, 1/4 c of the brown sugar, the ginger, soy sauce and vinegar to a slow cooker. Set the temperature to low and let cook for 2-1/2 hours (meat will be slightly pink and shred easily).

With about 10 minutes left to go on the slow cooker, boil a small pot of water. Toss in the pearl onions for two minutes. Drain the onions out of the water, cut-off the ends and remove the peel. Then toss the onions, plantains, cashews, shiitake, 1 T brown sugar, sake, a bit of sea salt and the pork and juice from the slow cooker (throw away the cheesecloth ingredients) into a large skillet or wok. Cook, uncovered for 10 to 15 minutes. Once the sauce is thickened and reduced, scoop out and serve.