Fall weather may be a little delayed, but fall fundraisers are cropping up faster than pumpkin patches.
And yes, you’ll see fried apple pies, doughnuts, candy bars and fried fish offered, but the pinnacle of fundrasiers is always Boston butt sales. Just say the words and watch people’s eyes light up as they envision meltingly tender pork surrounded by a brown crust encasing just the right amount of fat. It’s no wonder that churches, social organizatons and non-profits offer the Holy Grail of fundraisers every year.
I don’t want to eat into their profits, but really, a Boston butt is the ideal dish for your home slow cooker. (And yes, I checked to make sure our decades-old cooker was still working before I started this recipe.)
Perhaps using the word, “recipe” is pushing it since cooking a butt is so simple to do, and needs few ingredients. That doesn’t mean it’s not messy. For any meat that’s braised for long periods of time, you really should brown it first. Imagine man-handling a 3-3 1/2 pound, bone-in butt into 1/4 cup of sizzling vegetable oil in your largest, blazing hot pot and letting it splatter away while it gets that brown crust. Oh, yeah, and you have to turn it over half way through to brown the other side.
Some people insist that you can brown the meat by putting it on the grill first. But I don’t like the taste of char that results after hours of slow cooking.
On second thought, a pre-cooked butt sounds like a better option for many people. But it’s no harder than wrestling with the Thanksgiving turkey. If you decide to forge ahead and cook the devil out of this cheap piece of pork, the rewards are huge, as are the servings.
In case you wondered, a butt is not from the hind end of the pig. That’s called ham. The butt is the tough shoulder meat that needs to be broken down by a low and slow cooking process. And, a geeky detail, it’s called a Boston butt because the butchers in that area packed the cheap shoulder meat in barrels called “butts” way back in Revolutionary War days. So stop giggling every time I say “butt.”
Don’t season the meat before you brown it in hot oil, because that inhibits the process. Once you’ve browned the pork, place it in your slow cooker, along with one coarsely chopped onion, an entire head of peeled garlic cloves, half a tablespoon of salt and pepper and 2 cups of white wine. Set the cooker on low and braise for 8 hours.
You’ll return home to a pot full of tender pulled pork that defies the need for sauce, but begs for a crusty bread for sopping.