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.