Crock Pot Cooking: Pork with Apples and Ale

I know it's Autumn when I start using the crock pot or when I make soup. I did both this weekend and have a refrigerator full of comfort foods to prove it. The great thing about the cooler weather is that I want to spend time in the kitchen preparing hearty meals and loading up the freezer with provisions for the colder season to come. I almost can't believe that I haven't posted this recipe previously; surely I've made this dish over the years and have alluded to it, posted photos and have made beef variations. I may post a lot of vegetarian friendly dishes and lots of salmon entrees, but I do eat a fair amount of the "white meats" chicken and pork.

Apples, Ale and Pork are about the most perfect combination of flavors. The crock pot pork dish I made was full of sauteed onions, carrots, garlic, peppers, apples and a bottle of Sam Adams Cherry Wheat Ale. I liked the sour cherry tang that the Cherry Wheat Ale added to the finished product. A wheat style ale is also a definite plus, adding a hearty note. Other beers that could be used equally well - Pumpkin Style Ales, Blue Moon Belgian Style Ale, Stouts, Porters, or any heartier Ales. If beer isn't your thing - try a 12 ounce or 16 ounce bottle of Coke, Dr. Pepper, or a good root beer. I was looking for a sweet and spicy style "pulled pork" dinner. This is largely a "set it and forget it" meal. To get the best flavor out of all the ingredients, sear the pork butt on all sides, and saute the vegetables before putting them into the slow cooker. Your taste buds will thank you for taking this extra step!

Pork with Apples and Ale Ingredients
:
  • 2 Large Onions - cut into large dice
  • 4-5 Medium/Large Carrots - large dice
  • 5-6 Garlic Cloves - roughly chopped
  • 2 Bell Peppers, Green & Red - large dice
  • 4 to 5 pound bone-in Pork Butt - visible fat and silver skin trimmed
  • Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons Paprika
  • 2 Tablespoons Ground Cumin
  • 1 Tablespoon Oregano
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
  • 4 Tablespoons Vegetable, Olive or Canola Oil - divided
  • 2 or 3 Medium Apples - firm tart apples work best, such as Fuji or Galas - seeds removed, skins on, cut into large chunks
  • 1 - 12 ounce Bottle of Sam Adams Cherry Wheat Beer
  • 1 Small Can (about 6 ounces) No-Salt Tomato Sauce
Equipment:
  • Heavy Bottom Pot or Skillet
  • Tongs
  • Crock Pot/Slow Cooker
Directions:
  1. Wash and prepare all the vegetables and set aside. Trim the fat and silver skin from the pork butt; season on all sides generously with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a heavy bottomed skillet or pot over medium-high heat until the oil shimmers. Carefully add in the pork butt and sear on all sides until golden brown. Remove pork from the pot, plate, and set aside.
  3. Wipe the pot out if there are too many burned bits in the bottom of the pan, otherwise, add in the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and heat over medium-high heat until the oil shimmers. Add in all the vegetables and saute until the onions are golden brown and the carrots are knife tender - about 8 to 10 minutes.
  4. A minute before you remove the vegetables from the pot, add in the paprika, cumin, oregano and cayenne pepper and toss to coat the vegetables. Scrap out the pot and add the sauteed vegetables to the bottom of a large slow cooker vessel. Toss in the apple chunks. Place the seared pork butt on top of the vegetable mixture. Season the pork with additional salt, pepper and paprika. Pour the bottle of ale over the pork.
  5. Depending on how much time you have, set the slow cooker on low and cook for up to 6 to 8 hours, or set it on high and cook the pork 4 hours. Ultimately the pork should fall completely off the bone and shred apart with minimal effort. 1 hour before the pork is done cooking, stir in the small can of tomato sauce.
  6. Serve hot, over mashed potatoes or polenta. Makes 8 to 10 servings. Freezes beautifully!

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