Now that we've moved to small town Ontario to be closer to family, my mom and I have been trying to make Sunday dinner a thing as the farm is only ten minutes away from our house in town. My one and a half year old son heartily approves of this as he gets all his favourite people around him at the same time. This week it's my turn to cook as I had a lonely and gigantic pork butt in the fridge that needed to be cooked up. What does one do with a hunk of pork when one has apples and garlic freshly harvested from the farm, bacon in the fridge, whiskey in the pantry, and lots of time on a lazy Sunday?
Slow Cooked Pork with Apples, Bacon and Whiskey
1 large pork butt or shoulder
half a package of bacon
1 large onion
4 cloves of garlic
2-3 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 shots of whiskey or scotch
2 bay leaves
pinch of thyme
Soak a large ceramic pot with lid in water for 15 minutes (or use a dutch oven or crock pot). Preheat the oven to 300°F. Season the pork well with salt and pepper. Place the vegetables, garlic, and half the apples on the botton of the pot, pour the stock over top and add the whiskey and herbs. Place the pork on top of the veggies and apples. Lay bacon over the top. The fat from the bacon will help keep the pork moist and tender while cooking for a long time. Tuck the rest of the apples around the pork, put on the lid, and place in the oven. Wait 4-6 hours, depending on the size of your pork roast, and then remove from the oven and allow to rest for 20 minutes before carving.
Make a light and sweet gravy with the liquid leftover from slow cooking. Strain it, put it in a pot on medium heat, add seasoning, more stock or bouillion powder if needed, and rice flour to thicken. Serve with mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables.
There will be lots of leftovers! Add the chopped pork to baked brown beans and serve with rice, or put it on some nice buttered buns with fried onions, melted cheese, and coleslaw for homemade pulled pork sandwiches.
The recipe takes such a long time to cook, so I rest a moment and look out at the beautiful view from the sliding doors in the kitchen. The late blooming white hydrangea is gorgeous to look at and always covered in fuzzy fat bumble bees. I can't resist stepping outside to smell its lovely flowers.
Since I'm already I outside I walk over to look at the Siberian crabapple tree in front of me. It has such beautifully scented pink flowers in the spring which beg to be turned into a sweet elixir. It is covered in the tiniest cherry red apples you have ever seen. So small people mistake them for wild cherries or hawthorn berries. My mom and I will turn them into a brilliant red jelly. My mother is a jam and jelly goddess and has been canning delicious things as far back as I can remember into my childhood.
Bits of colour catch my eye. Our yard is full of fir, pine, and birch trees and therefore more mushrooms than you can imagine. Every day there are new ones to see. The house and grounds are so wonderfully shaded in most areas that even at the hottest points of summer there are still perfect mushrooms everywhere.
As I step through the grass full of plantain, selfheal, wild violets, and clover, frogs and toads jump away from my feet in droves. It never fails to make me giggle with wonder and delight. The tree frogs and water frogs are so beautiful, and the toads are the brownest, tiniest little toads I have ever seen. They are smaller than your pinkie finger!
Before I know it, hours have gone by as I've immersed myself in the lush green plants, picked fruits, and moved fallen branches to the brush pile. Soon it will be time to eat that delectable roast pork scenting my whole house with its lush apple, bacon, and fatty goodness. You know I'm going to eat the bacon off the top... maybe I'll share.