One of my rediscovered joys this summer has been making good, and sometimes elaborate food.
Not that I ever forgot that I like good food. Dave and I are both pretty skilled in the kitchen, and we’ve always appreciated making nice meals. But this summer, we sort of took it to a new level. Not a fancy level. Not a professional level. Not like, a performance art level, where we juggle dainty foodstuffs and can only eat what falls in our mouths. We just made some good meals this summer.
We had some goals during our time off. Like I wanted to grow an indoor herb garden. And Dave wanted to learn how to make homemade bread. And I made homemade pasta. We wanted to eat a lot of seafood this summer. We wanted to go to the Sunday Market and get local veggies. We also realized we needed to watch our grocery budget. We got a Costco membership for the first time in years. But the biggest change for us this summer was just having time.
Dave and I are pretty normal, but we do trend to the hippy-dippy side. We don’t have a TV, for one thing. I think not having a TV might be the single biggest time saver in our lives. We might spend 14 hours a day on the internet, but we still feel pretty superior about the TV thing.
Also, not having jobs saves us a lot of time. Imagine that.
So this saves us a lot of mental energy so that we can think about what we want to eat. I’m pretty much hungry all the time. I’m not an athlete or otherwise active person. I’m not sure where my appetite comes from. I’m sure there are dietary reasons, like that giant bowls of pasta is my favorite food. Or that potato pancakes is my favorite food. Or peanut butter chocolate chip cookies is my favorite food. Etc. I’m not sure how I’m not 500 pounds.
In the past week, we tried a couple new things we’ve never made before. There are few things more rewarding than attempting a new dish and it comes out fucking awesome. It feels like we are expanding our minds a little. These meals were fantastic. These aren’t french chef meals, they were super easy. And they were good, and they made me happy.
Slow Cooked Apple Cider Pork Shoulder with “Dijon” Mustard
Now. Here’s the thing. I wanted to make this, but I didn’t have any cider. And I didn’t have the really coarse dijon mustard that I initially had in mind. So I improvised. Dave gets nervous when I improvise.
I never cook pork. I never order pork at a restaurant. I never think of it. This might be the first pork I’ve eaten in years, without counting sausage. Because we eat a lot of damn sausage.
I got some sliced pork shoulder. They called them “Boneless pork shoulder ribs.” I don’t know what kind of deformed pig this cut of meat came from. But I got it because we didn’t need 6 pounds of pork shoulder all at once for two people. We divided the “ribs” into three portions and froze what we didn’t need. Each portion was probably 1 1/2 pounds each.
2 onions chopped into quarters
2 potatoes chopped into three inch pieces
Whatever other veggies you might want to put in for the sake of being an adult. We put in carrots.
Pork shoulder: as much as you want, or what will fit in your slow cooker.
2 cups apple cider (I didn’t have cider, so I dissolved brown sugar into some hot water. I also added some apple sauce. It worked just fine.)
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
It’s a wet rub. I didn’t have the dijon I thought I wanted. But I had a spicy apple mustard that I likely got in my Christmas stocking that “Santa” probably got at World Market. Because that’s where “Santa” gets all our stocking stuffers. I love my Mom and Dad.
So, spicy apple mustard was perfect. I added garlic powder, black pepper, sage, and salt. I didn’t measure anything, I just threw it together. My lack of measurement makes Dave nervous. I slathered the meat in the rub. I lined the crock pot with the onions and carrots. I put the meat on top. I put the potatoes on top of the meat. I poured the fake apple juice/apple sauce/cider vinegar liquid around the sides to keep from washing the rub off the meat. It was not submerged completely. I turned the crock pot to high. If you have all day, set it to low.
And just let it go. Ours took four or five hours for less than two pounds of meat. When the meat was almost falling apart, I submerged the potatoes under the meat and let it go another hour.
This was fricken awesome. I pulled the meat out and shredded it. I transferred some of the cooking liquid to a small pot and cooked it down into a gravy. So good. So good. Awesome meal for autumn. It would probably be even better if I actually had apple cider and dijon mustard. But, meh. It’s the journey that counts, right? It was fantastic just like this.
Hit tip to The Chubby Cook for the recipe inspiration.