Friday, March 22, 2013

Slow Cooker Braised Boston Butt Roast

My neighbor Sara has been ever so kind to lend me emergency ingredients from time to time, likes the blog on facebook, just had a new baby in December and is all around a good neighbor.  Being a good neighbor to me and friend of the blog has its perks:pork! My big box grocery store recently had a really good sale on Boston butt pork roasts, so I bought 4.  I actually ran into Sara at the store when I bought these roasts and instantly decided to make one for her and her family.  

Nomnompaleo's Kalua Pig uses a Boston butt roast, but I decided to scour the internet to find a new and interesting way to prepare this roast and came across this "Braised Boston Butt a la Crockpot" from a site called Rich and Sweet by Bia Rich.  Is this from a paleo website?  No, but when I searched for paleo pork roast it came up.  I only had to make one ingredient substitution to make this dish paleo.  What piqued my interest about this recipe is that it used one of my favorite spices, smoked paprika and it braised the roast in the slow cooker.   

First I gathered my ingredients.

Before starting to prep the roast, I put some of my frozen chicken broth cubes into the microwave to defrost.  I really do love my 8 cup pyrex measuring cup when I need to defrost broth.

Next I peeled and sliced the garlic and diced an onion.  I added both to the bottom of my slow cooker crock.

I then mixed up the dry spices and herbs needed to make the rub for the roast in a ramekin.

I washed and dried the roast and put it on a baking sheet so that I could contain the mess of applying the spice rub to the roast.

Once I had covered the roast in the rub, I added it to the slow cooker crock and topped it with two bay leaves.  This picture jumps ahead a bit, but it shows the pretty rub coated roast before I doused it in broth.  

I decided to mix all of my liquid ingredients together and add them all at one time.  I poured one cup of white wine in with the chicken broth and added 2 tablespoons of coconut amino which of course were the substitution for the soy sauce in the original recipe.  If you don't want to cook with wine, here is a list of substitutions you can use for the wine.  

I gave the liquids a good stir and then poured them over the roast.  I after pouring some of it over the roast, I poured more to the side of the roast as I thought that all I was doing was rinsing off the rub I just applied to the roast.  My slow cooker crock was super full.  I was worried that it might bubble over during the day, so I put my slow cooker on a sheet pan on top of my cook top.   

When I got home, thankfully the crock had not bubbled over, but it was really close to doing so.  Here is the roast right before I took it out of the slow cooker.  his is not a pretty picture.  In fact, the roast looked somewhat gross, in my opinion, but there was no reason to be alarmed.  That ugly bit on the bottom right skimmed off the roast.  

Good, bad and the ugly.
Here, cleanse your eyes with this paleo kitty chaser.

Dottie says to look away!
I carefully used a measuring cup to take some of the liquid out of the slow cooker so that I could get the roast out.  I ended up discarding a lot of the cooking liquid.  I used a wire sieve to make sure I didn't discard any of the onions.  I lifted the roast out carefully with 2 pairs of tongs.  I put it in a aluminum pan as I needed to deliver it to Sara.  

The pork not quite ready for its close up.
The pork looked even better shredded on my plate.  Don't worry, I warned Sara that I'd keep a portion so that I could taste the recipe.  

Pretty pork.

Accessibility & Cost of Ingredients: You should be able to find all of the ingredients except for the smoked paprika and coconut aminos at your big box grocery store.   My big box doesn't carry either.   Even if the roast isn't on sale, Boston butt is still a pretty reasonably priced cut of meat. 

Preparation & Cooking Time:  It took me 19 minutes to prepare this recipe and turn on the slow cooker.  I prepared this early one morning before work and noticed I was moving a little on the slow side.  If I was properly caffeinated, I could likely get the preparation time down to 15 minutes.  I set the slow cooker for nine hours on low.  

Clean Up:  The clean up was super simple.  Everything I used for the preparation went into the dishwasher.  After cooking, I soaked the crock for a bit and pre-scrubbed it before putting it in the dishwasher as well.  

The Paleo Review:  Thumbs Up!  The pork had a very neutral but pleasing flavor.  It's perfect for serving over salad, spaghetti squash or any sautéed veggies.  It was super tender when I removed it from the crock and shredded easily.  The meat had a nice level of juiciness.  I was a little surprised that the pork wasn't a little more flavorful.  My roast was a little on the large side at 8.36 pounds so if I had used a 4-6 pound roast as the recipe called for, more of the spices and herbs may have shown through.  But sometimes a roast that just has a good pork flavor is better than a heavily spiced one.  Next time, if my roast is large, I will adjust the spices up a bit to see if there is a significant difference.  

I, of course, asked Sara for her thoughts on the pork.  She said it tasted good.  She served it with a a salad on the side.  And I believe that's accurate.  Its neither the best pork I've ever had and is no where near the worst.  It's just good.    

If you're looking for a slightly different way to slow cook a pork roast, give this one a try.