Monthly Archives: January 2011

braised pork butt in the slow cooker

slow-cooker-braised-pork1

There’s a pork butt in our slow cooker, right now.

And it smells delicious.

It’s winter. January is a loooong month. Slow-braised meats is about the only way we survive this sensory deadness. Carrots soft to the teeth, onions influencing the taste of everything gently, and the unexpected flavors of lemon peel and dried ginger giving a zing to the mouth that wakes us all up.

And of course, pork. The soft texture of meat so tender that it comes apart in the fingers — this is going to be a good dinner.

You might want to make it too.

BRAISED PORK BUTT

4 tablespoons grapeseed oil (you could use any vegetable oil you have at hand)
3 pound pork butt
1/2 large yellow onion, peeled and chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
Small nub fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
2 teaspoons dried lemon peel
1 teaspoon ground dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried ginger
7 ounces canned whole, peeled tomatoes
2 Mediterranean bay leaves
Chicken stock to cover (about 4 cups)

Searing the pork butt. Set a large skillet over high heat. Pour in 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the pork butt to the hot oil. Sear until the bottom of the pork butt is browned, about 3 minutes. Turn the pork and sear all the remaining sides the same way. Remove from the pan. Put the pork butt into the slow cooker.

Sautéing the vegetables. Pour the remaining oil into the pan. Add the onion, carrots, and ginger. Cook, stirring, until the onions have become soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the lemon peel, dried thyme, and dried ginger and cook, stirring until the spices have released their fragrance, about 2 minutes. Put this vegetable mixture into the slow cooker.

Cooking the pork butt. Put the tomatoes and bay leaves into the slow cooker. Stir up everything. Pour in enough chicken stock to cover the pork butt (in our kitchen, that was about 4 cups). Put on the lid and put the slow cooker on low. Cook until everything smells fantastic and the meat comes apart with the lightest touch of a fork, about 6 hours.

Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

pork shoulder blog

pork-shoulder

Sometimes people ask us: are you tired of writing about pork yet?

Of course not! I actually love the specificity of this task, of looking at the world through one lens and seeing where it leads.

(Plus, there's prosciutto.)

However, if you think our blog is specific? I have an amazing blog to show you.

http://porkqueen.wordpress.com

Kristina is cooking pork shoulder for 100 days, 100 different ways.

Now that's specific!

Actually, I can't wait to try her pork stew with fennel and olives. That sounds fantastic.

Another pork meal for us.

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homemade pork sausage

pork-sausage

I love Sunday mornings.

Normally, every Sunday that we are in town, our little family has an open house potluck. Come on over, we tell our friends. Bring something to eat and sit with us for awhile. Every Sunday we have a different set of friends, of lovely people, the hum of conversation rising and falling as the kids jump on the bed in our daughter’s room, or chase each other around the house with fireman’s hats and baseball caps turned sideways. In the summer, they play outside, jump in the pool together, run each other exhausted. In the winter, we sit together in our small home and make the best.

We love Sundays.

This last Sunday, we sent out a message to friends on email and Facebook: no brunch this Sunday. We were all maybe starting colds. The house was a mess. Danny and I had a big project we had to complete. We needed a day off.

About 10:30, there was a knock on the door. We looked at each other, astonished. We were all still in our pajamas. Breakfast dishes were on the table. Who was there?

It was neighbors of ours, folks I had recently met on a walk through the woods near our home. They’re delightful people and I immediately invited them to be part of the brunch crowd.

And then I forgot that they aren’t on the email list.

However, when we opened the door, we found their smiling faces and a big plate of pork sausage meatballs with sauteed onions in her hands.

Come on in!

It’s so easy to make pork sausage. Take some good ground pork and mix in your favorite spices. These had red chile flakes, fennel seeds, garlic, and salt. Mix the spices into the ground meat, then let it sit in the refrigerator for an hour. This allows the flavors to meld and play. Take the meat out of the refrigerator, roll it into small balls, and fry in a skillet with your favorite oil.

Pork sausage meatballs. There you have it.
And p.s. A reader gave some great suggestions here I’d love to share with you too. Thanks, Sarah!

“a few meatball tips…you can grind your own meat in your food processor, then you REALLY have control. Freeze the meat partially first, makes it easier. And know that you will probably need more spices/flavoring than what seems natural. Make a little test patty and pan-fry it to test the seasoning before doing the whole batch. And an egg white will help bind it together, too!”