Friday, March 9, 2012

Pork Shoulder & Crock Pot: A 9 Hour Love Story

I haven't had a long lazy weekend day at home in a long while. Every weekend in February I was off in a new place - doing research in Salt Lake City and Portland, visiting friends in San Francisco and celebrating the 1 year anniversary with my boyfriend on Whidbey Island. I've had a lot of amazing food (epic 7 course meal at The Inn at Langley (I should really post about that)). I've had some delicious but not-so-good-for-me food like the A Bomb of a sandwich from Giordano's, whose french fry and cured meat fillings soaked up every ounce of my hangover. Furthermore, I've had some afterthought food - the fill that keeps you moving as your go from hotel to meeting or keeps your fingers typing on the keyboard as you finish up a deadline. 

I've been craving conscious eating cooked by my own hand. It's therapeutic and gratifying to make, dish up and savor the goofy satisfied grin from your companion as he takes a bite and you dig in as well. So before boy and I headed to Pike Place for a rare sunny Sunday, I made a dry rub for a pork shoulder, seared it in a cast iron skillet and put it to work in a crock pot with onions, broth, mustard seeds and apple juice. As the day went on, I lost my fleet in a game of battle ship that accompanied a Northwest wine tasting flight. We looked for the honey lady we know but found graffiti art around the market when couldn't find her. And I spent much too long  oggling pickled vegetables to serve with dinner at DeLaurenti's, landing on pickled watermelon rind, apricots, cornichons and cipolline.


By the time we got home the hallways of my apartment building were fragrant with simmering meat. The pork shoulder easily shredded with a fork into luscious ribbons that I drowned with barbecue sauce. We served our lot with corn bread and pan fried broccoli. Each of the pickles I brought home added a different sweetness or vinegary acid that cut the richness of the pork. Pickled watermelon bites like a firm gelatin and tastes like candy. The apricots were speckled with peppercorns and made each fork-full of meat more tangy and sweet. It was a perfect way to cap a long few weeks in the shortest month of the year.

Pork Shoulder Rub:
1/4 C Brown Sugar
1 tsp. Cinnamon
3 Tbs Cumin
1 tsp. Cayenne
2 Tbs Garlic Salt
3 tsp Black pepper
1 Tbs Oregano

1 C Beef Broth
2 Tbs Mustard Seeds
1/3 C Apple Juice
1/2 Onion, sliced

4-5 lb. Pork Shoulder

Take a 4-5 lb. natural Pork Shoulder and trim excess caps of fat. Massage in dry rub with unabashed amounts of the mix. Get it dirty. Pour 2 Tbs of olive oil in a caste iron or heavy based skillet and sear meat on all sides in the screaming hot pan. Place meat in crock pot and add the bathtub ingredients. Cover and cook on low for 8-9 hours, shred meat and serve by itself or with your favorite barbecue sauce... you should probably have some hot sauce on hand too, but that's a given.

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