What? Oh, am I freaking you all out a bit with my appliance love? Sorry.
Since I was all set to do my pulled pork recipe last week but didn't, I needed a plan to use my yummy pork shoulder roast. As the temperatures dropped over the last few days, I found something too irresistible to pass up. How could you not love something which includes a succulent roast, winter squash and maple syrup?
The original recipe comes from one of those publications one nearly always sees in line at the grocery store. This one's a Betty Crocker mini-magazine of slow cooker meals dating all the way back to 2006. Yes, I saved the magazine all these years because I'm apparently too stupid to realize that Al Gore gave me this nifty tool called the internet. You, my friends, can find the original recipe here.
With all the aforementioned hindrances to leisurely and organized cooking in my household of late, I didn't have all the ingredients on hand. I knew I couldn't use corn starch because of a food sensitivity and I don't use bouillon granules or cubes (I can't handle the msg and nitrates that are usually in those things so I avoid 'em like the plague). So I did what any self-respecting cook would do— I made it up as I went along.
I have to say, it turned out really delicious. Even my finicky eater who's just learning to chew meat has been enjoying the leftovers! Now that I think of it, that's not a rousing endorsement as he'll eat pretty much everything. Hmmm...
My husband enjoyed this so much he's asked me to make it again with a slight change which I'll share at the end of this post.
Here's the recipe as I made it:
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons ground sage (I didn't have leaves on hand)
1/2 cup beef broth
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1 1/2 cups baby-cut carrots
2 small onions, cut into wedges
3 tablespoons xanthan gum
1/2 cup water
If the pork roast comes in netting or string, remove that and put the roast in the bottom of the cooker.
In a small bowl, mix the syrup, beef broth, garlic and sage. Pour the mixture over the pork.
Arrange the carrots, onions, and squash around the pork roast.
Do not put the vegetables on top of the roast or they won't cook thoroughly. (This is a great tip if you are making, say, beef stew and don't want your vegetables to be mushy.)
Cover; cook on HIGH heat setting for 4 hours. (NB: original recipe says 8-9 hours on LOW)
Remove the pork and vegetables from the cooker and cover them to keep them warm. Now would be a great time to slice the roast and put it on a platter or in a casserole with the vegetables arranged oh-so-artfully around it like I did. (Wow, I typed that with a straight face; lightning is about to strike me.)
Pour the juices from the cooker into either a sauce pan or a large microwavable measuring cup.
Mix the xanthan gum and water until smooth. Add it to the juices in the cup or pan, Heat and stir until it thickens into a nice glaze. Spoon the maple glaze over the pork and veggies.
If you plan your menu ahead of time, you definitely should consider adding these yummy side dishes to the meal. Homemade biscuits (they're easy, I swear!), superb applesauce and maybe even some roasted brussels sprouts. And, voila, dinner is served!
**********While I think this dish is absolutely yummy, both my husband and I tend to like a bit more depth and complexity; we like to play "What's in this?" sometimes. (Yeah, we're a little quirky that way; what can I say?) We discussed several recipe modifications but the one which intrigues us the most —which I will make tomorrow— is to substitute garam masala for the sage for a flavorful Indian-style dish. I may add some chopped dates and serve it with naan bread.
What are some of the ways you get adventurous when you cook?