Our friend the pig, part two

January 29, 2013

A particularly toothsome specimen of our friend the pig.

A particularly toothsome specimen of our friend the pig.

You will recall my paean to pig, in the form of country ham, recently. That’s just one of the delectable things with which our porcine pals favor us. There’s also barbecue, and pork loin, and its cousin tenderloin, and char siu, and bacon, and sausage, and pork belly, and carnitas, and on and on and on.

I do love me a pig. And I’d purely hate to have to choose which portion of him I’d have in my food stores were I stranded on a desert isle. But it would probably have to be the Boston butt, which is kinda the chuck roast of pork.  And like a chuck roast, it demands long, slow cooking after an initial searing. Also like chuck roast, you can go so many different directions with it.

I mean, you can rub it down in the spice blend of your choice and roast it low and slow for pulled pork barbecue. Or you can cut it up in chunks and make posole, or some other stew of your choice. Or you can braise it, in very nearly anything.

For grocery store pork, I tend to go with a dry roast for a Boston butt, because they’re generally so fatty that a braise just stays too greasy. But this Mountain Pastures pork I’ve been getting…that’s a different story.

The star of the show.

The star of the show.

I had about a three pound Boston butt in the freezer, thinking I’d do some oven barbecued pork with it. But I got in fruity mood. Pork always seems to go well with apples, and I had some nice Granny Smiths that needed to be used. And I decided I wanted something that had a German flair, simply because I had some leftover red cabbage, and, well, that’s good enough.

The supporting cast.

The supporting cast.

To me, German plus pork equals caraway seed. I pulled caraway seed, juniper berries, allspice and cloves out of the spice cabinet; onions from the pantry. And my eye caught a package of dried cherries.

“H’mmm,” sez I. “Self? That ought to go quite well in apple juice, with pork.” And self thought that was a fine idea, so we browned the butt, took it out, caramelized an onion, threw in some confited garlic cloves, smushed those up (confited garlic is a fine, fine thing, I am here to tell you), put the pork back in, added the spices, and dumped in apple juice to come halfway up the roast. Added a little honey. Stuck the lid on and put it in the oven on 300 for about five hours.

Honey. It was Sweet Baby Jesus good. Meanwhile, I had made potato salad (not the German kind, because I wanted the regular kind); sauteed some more onions with some Granny Smiths; and warmed up the red cabbage.

That’s a lot of trouble to go to for leftover red cabbage, but I’m here to tell you, that red cabbage shined in that setting!

The red cabbage was left over from the weekend before, when I’d made latkes for myself and a friend who was craving latkes, and decided they’d be lonely all by themselves, and made the red cabbage and simmered some fresh German sausage in beer to go with them. (Do not tell anyone, but I simmered the sausage in Mexican beer. It was all I had. It worked.)

The cherries plumped up, by the way, and made a toothsome side dish all by theirownselves. They were quite delightful mixed in with the apples and onions. We had it with a good German brew, the name of which I don’t remember, but it was a dark Hefeweizen, and went quite well with the food.

It warmed up well, too. Score yet another one for our friend, the pig.

You ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em go play with a Boston butt and see what delectable thing you can cook up!

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