Pork With Squash and Pineapple
From Alex at Ombailamos:
One of the best ways I've found to do an end run around weeknight dinnertime stress is to break out Ye Olde Slow Cooker. This week it was put to good use.
Not long ago I had some leftover baked squash. It was not enough for a meal on its own, and needed some protein. I added some commercially-prepared pulled pork and a star was born. But the sauce to pork ratio on that product was a little off (needed more meat and less sugar). This week I had two Delicata squash in need of employment. I decided to take the pulled-pork invention a little further.
- just under 4 lbs of pork shoulder, a.k.a. Boston butt;
- 2 onions, peeled & cut into eighths;
- 2 Delicata squash, cleaned, cut into chunks, and mostly peeled;
- 1 6-oz can of tomato paste;
- 1 snack cup of pineapple tidbits in juice;
- 8 cloves of garlic, peeled and cut into rough chunks;
- seasonings (to taste): 1 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce, 1 tsp ancho chili, 1 tsp Satay seasoning from Penzey's, 1/4 tsp red chili flakes, 1/4 tsp ginger
The process: cut pork in half to fit into slow cooker. Rejoice in the layer of fat that was hidden by the packaging. Schmear it with all the tomato paste. Throw in the vegetables. Toss in the spices and seasonings. Dump the pineapple & juice over the top. Cover and heat through for an hour on High, then turn down to Low and go to work. It'll be smelling heavenly when you get home.
Wine pairing: we drank "Obsession," made by Ironstone Winery from the Symphony grape (white, something between a riesling and a moscato). Delicious.
What I've learned about slow-cooker pot roasts over the past couple of years:
- do not use very lean cuts of meet. This I know from painful experience.
- do not cut vegetables very small (they will dissolve).
- do not add much liquid - half a cup, max; and make sure it has flavor: broth, beer, wine, juice - not plain water.
- do fill up the cooker. There is no such thing as "too many" vegetables, and my best results are with tubers, bulbs, and roots.
- do be liberal - in fact, be lavish - with seasonings.
- do tear the meat apart as soon as you get home, and let it continue to soak in the accumulated liquids till serving time.
If you like the flavors of barbecue, adding pineapple to your slow-cooker pot roast can give you the same acid and sweet elements, without adding sugar or vinegar.
And, in my opinion, tomato paste is an essential component. I use it with any kind of meat because it adds color, brightness of flavor, and a richly savory complement to the protein - as well as helping to integrate the fat.
Don't fear the fat! This kind of preparation is better for you than anything fried. Damn tasty, too.