A few weeks ago, friends and I went out for dinner. Of the six of us, three are on the board of education here in Groton. Of we three, two spend little time in the kitchen. In Rosemary’s case, she is head in a psychiatric hospital and works on the late shift. Cooking is not something she is interested in doing. Kat is married to a man who works at EB, but he loves to cook and Kat says that’s fine with her.
At dinner, her husband mentioned that he would like to get a cookbook on how to make sauces. I immediately said, “Don’t buy one. I have one at home and you can use it and if you like it, keep it.” When I got home I realized that it was one of perhaps 500 or 600 books I gave to the Book Barn when I sold the house in Old Lyme in 2014. As I schlepped cloth bags full of books to Niantic early that spring, I remember telling one of the intake people that I would probably wind up buying many back. And the only reason I haven’t is that I can’t figure out where to put bookshelves.
A week after that dinner, I made the mistake of going back to the Book Barn next to the Niantic Cinema, which is where all the cookbooks live. I found my copy, Sauces by James Peterson, and bought it, along with four or five more of my old cookbooks. Mike now has my old sauces book
I have also given many of my cookbooks to friends and family. When I bought my grandson a slow cooker, I also gave him my slow cooker cookbook. Eventually, I bought another copy of that slow cooker cookbook and it’s a good thing I did, since I have been giving my cooktop appliance quite a workout.
Recently, I bought a pork butt, then looked to find a good recipe. The one I chose didn’t include vegetables, so I adapted it a bit. It was delicious. The recipe says that you can’t make a gravy from it, but I cut much of the fat from the roast the day I made it and made the a gravy the next day, after I was able to spoon out the rest of the fat.
Orange-glazed Pork Butt
Adapted from Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough, “The Great American Slow Cooker Book,” Clarkson Potter, New York, 2014.
4 pound boneless pork butt
One-half cup orange marmalade (best not to use sweet marmalade, but it will do)
One-half cup soy sauce (I use the less sodium kind)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
One-half teaspoon ground cloves
Red pepper flakes (about one-half teaspoon)
5 peeled white potatoes, cut into 2-inch chunks (might use sweet potato next time)
6 to 8 large peeled carrots, cut into 2 inch chunks
Set the pork butt in the slow cooker. Whisk the marmalade, soy sauce, tomato paste, cider vinegar, ground cloves and red pepper flakes in a bowl until fairly smooth; smear the mixture over the pork. Nestle the potatoes and carrots around the roast.
Cover and cook on low for 6 hours in a small slow cooker, 8 hours in a medium one or 10 hours in a large one, or until the meat is quite tender but not yet shreddable. Let rest for 10 minutes uncovered with the cooker turned off, then portion the meat into large chunks or transfer to a cutting board and slice it into more manageable pieces.
Like most braises, this is even better the next day or two. This way I was able to make a gravy the day after I cooked it. If you remove the fat from the broth, pour the broth into a pan, boil it, the pour in 3 to 4 tablespoons of flour mixed with cold water. Whisk the gravy until smooth, adding more flour and water if necessary. Add salt and pepper, to taste. I also added a teaspoon of Gravy Master, but this is not necessary.