In Good Company
Sometimes you are on a walk with a friend, chatting at the school bus or just noticing the beautiful weather and you decide - today we will fill the dinner table for a gathering. For me, this feeling usually comes early enough in the day that I can make a quick decision on the preparations and guests. Then, I realize I have much to do in this day, responsibilities that have to happen in order to get to the part of the day where I can relax and entertain.
This time to connect is not about the perfect meal, rather offering your best. It is centered on giving the people around the table fresh appetizers or a supper that represents what is available at the seasonal market, stored in fridge or freezer if needed. Breaking bread is like a gift - it comes from your treasure and it is done with the intent to build relationships with others. When you take time to be hospitable, your goodness will be shared and others will be encouraged to do the same.
Jen and I talked about this concept and decided we would do Pork in a Pot. Pork butt/shoulder is a larger cut of meat; you may have it in your freezer from a recent sale at the market and it can be made tasty in the Crock-Pot. If you pull it from the freezer, you must have time to thaw it the day before. It goes exceptionally well with a crispy slaw - the theme can take on the essence of barbecue or Mexican. Today, we are featuring the barbecue option. This is a meal that both of us use to host our large families and the flavor is well loved by young and old.
Recently, I went over to Jen's and she prepared this Crock-Pot meal for her brother and his wife - well, and their 4 children. When you have 4 adults and 7 children around the table this is a suitable piece of meat, it is soft/easy to pull apart when slow roasted and you can season it to your liking. After the pork is good and tender, you shred the meat into bite size chunks & drizzle it with the drippings from the Crock-Pot. Top it off with your favorite barbecue sauce, like Kinder's Organic BBQ Sauce - Yummy! You can serve it with an adult side of Cherry Apple Slaw; it has the crunch and acidity to stand up to the BBQ pork. However, the kids would prefer corn on the cob and sweet potato fries.
There is nothing compared to a full table, lots of good conversation and many hands to clean up the mess. Cheers!
You may think, "I have never made pulled pork!" But once you dive into the basics of this recipe, you will learn to prep it, set it, and forget it. When you re-enter the scene hours later you will be surprised by the elevated scent of spices and cooked pork! So do not fear, this recipe will be quick to learn and then you will repeat it with ease.
I have a soft spot for the pork butt/shoulder. This is a relatively inexpensive cut of meat that goes on sale at two of my favorite markets – The Metropolitan Market and Whole Foods. When trimmed right it has the perfect amount of fat to support the slow cooking process and you can usually get two dinners out of it.
Rough chop your onions, don't worry if they are big and chunky.
Place your onions in the bottom of your Crock-Pot, top with pineapple rings, add chicken broth and the pineapple juice from the can.
Salt and pepper your pork, then massage in the minced garlic. You are ready to RUB!
Look at this flavor bomb! You are ready to rest this baby in the Crock-Pot.
Jen has inspired (encouraged!) me to leave my Mayo roots and swap it for an oil and organic apple cider vinegar based dressing (such as Bragg's) for making the Cherry Apple Slaw. Often, we do what we know. It only takes one step into new territory and experimentation begins. If you fail, you know what you don't like. If you succeed, you have something delightful to share with others and they will be thankful for your success. Developing the coleslaw dressing recipe came with several texts, chit-chat, and hands on tasting. It is not complicated, but we wanted the dressing to be just right!
All of these items for the coleslaw can be picked up at a farm stand or market. I tend to go around and smell ingredients and sometimes test, to find just what I want. I visited the Duvall Farmer's Market and landed at a vendor from Duvall, WA named Cha New Life Garden who grows many varieties of lettuce, onions and garlic. I bought my green onions from their stand - the scent of the vegetables drew me in, not to mention the kind gal who helped me.
In the recipe, I use the term Julienne- this is simply cutting your fruit and vegetables into thin, uniform slices like match sticks. If you find this perplexing, watch an online demo - we will do a video in the future.
Look at these beautiful layers.
Mix it and dress it! Don't forget to top it with extra goodies. And make sure you salt and pepper the whole shebang.
After the pork is cooked, pull it apart and place all the components from the pot on a platter, ladle extra juices over the pork. You're ready to make sandwiches.
Let's eat! Top your pork sandwiches with BBQ and get a hearty side of slaw. I like to put the slaw right on my sandwich, try it for yourself.
Pork in the Pot with Cherry Apple Slaw
Pork in the Pot
Serves 6 plus leftovers
- 4+ lbs of pork butt/shoulder
- 1 - 20 oz. can of pineapple rings in juice
- 1 large sweet onion roughly chopped
- 1 and 1/2 cups of chicken broth
- 2 cloves of garlic minced
- The Rub (recipe below)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Bag of Kaiser rolls (6-8)
- BBQ sauce
- 1/3 cup of packed brown sugar
- 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of cumin
- 1 tablespoon of onion powder
- 1 tablespoon of garlic powder
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons of chili powder
- 1 teaspoon of coriander
- 1 teaspoon of cracked pepper
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon of dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano
Lay a bed of rough chopped sweet onions in the bottom of the Crock-Pot, top with pineapple rings. Then pour 1 - 1/2 cups of chicken broth and the juice from the can of pineapple into the Crock-Pot. Season the pork with salt, pepper and two cloves of minced garlic. Set aside and make the rub.
Rub the pork and place in Crock-Pot, cook on low 6-8 hours+ until desired tenderness. When the pork should pull apart with ease, that is when it is done.
While waiting for the pork to cook, go prep the Cherry Apple Slaw. Dress the slaw one hour before serving.
When the pork is cooked, pull it apart with two forks and place desired amount in a bowl/on a platter. Top with broth and onions from the pot. Then add rings of pineapple on the very top.
For more heat - add 1 tsp of cayenne pepper into the rub mixture.
Cherry Apple Slaw
Serves 4 to 6
- 1/2 of a green cabbage
- 1/4 of a purple cabbage
- 1 extra large carrot
- 1 large Pink Lady apple (or your favorite crisp apple)
- 6 green onions
- 1/2 cup of dried cherries
- 1/2 cup of sliced almonds.
Start by washing and trimming the produce, as well as peeling the carrot. Then julienne the cabbage, carrot, and apple. "Julienne" means to cut it into long thin strips that are similar to the size and shape of a matchstick. (It takes a little time, but it makes the slaw absolutely stunning.) For the green onion, rough chop it down to the white base, throwing away root end. Place all of these items in a very large bowl that has room for mixing. Then add a half cup of the cherries and almonds. Set aside until your dressing is ready.
Makes approximately 3/4 cup of dressing
- 1/3 cup of avocado oil
- 2 tablespoons of organic apple cider vinegar
- The zest of half a lemon
- 1 heaping teaspoon of Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon of pure maple syrup
- One large clove of minced garlic
- Salt and Pepper
Place all of the ingredients in a mason jar – minus the avocado oil. Mix, then add avocado oil and mix again. Add salt and pepper to taste. The slaw can be dressed an hour before serving, this will allow it to soak up the flavors. Toss it- then add salt and pepper to top it off.
To make the sandwich, open a Kaiser roll and fill it with pork. Individuals can add onions, pineapple and slaw and top with just the right amount of BBQ sauce.
Note: When storing the leftover pork with tidbits, pour juices over the pork and refrigerate when cooled. The fat will solidify and can easily be scooped off the top the next day. Leftovers can make additional sandwiches or pork tacos.
PS - "Pork is the most versatile meat. It can be marinated, roasted, grilled, skewered, dry rubbed, boiled, baked, barbecued, microwaved, pan-fried or stir-fried," according to Mobile-Cuisine. I've never boiled or microwaved pork - but it doesn't mean there's not a trick to doing it.
PPS - This would be a great meal for Father's Day. Coming soon is a complementary dessert for this meal. Amp it up.
PPSS - Watch out for snitches.