Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Slow Cooker Braised Pork Shoulder Roast with Apple Butter Sauce – Reducing the Need for Roux

Man, I’ve been making a lot of rouxs lately (which you’ll be seeing in all their buttery glory in a series of upcoming holiday videos), but for this apple cider braised pork roast, I wanted to keep things a little lighter and decided to use a classic reduction.

We’ve done dozens of similar style sauces, but most of those were traditional pan sauces, where the skillet is deglazed with some kind of flavorful liquid, which is reduced down, and finally finished with butter.

This is basically the same technique; except here we’re reducing the braising liquid from the slow cooker while our pork rests. By the way, I keep saying “cider” because it sounds and looks better in print, but I actually used apple juice. Both work very well, but a just-pressed, unfiltered cider would be my official recommendation.

One thing to remember about these types of reduction sauces is that a little goes a long way. You’re taking an already flavorful liquid and reducing down to maybe 25% of its original volume. This is also the reason you shouldn’t season it until the end. After the cold butter is whisked into the sauce, and your herb of choice has been added, give it a taste and adjust for salt then.

Since we’re using a relatively small amount of braising liquid for this big a hunk of meat, I decided to use the slow cooker. You can certainly do this on the stovetop, over very low heat, or in a slow (275 degrees F.) oven, but neither is quite as convenient. Regardless of your cooking method, I hope you give this delicious pork shoulder a try soon. Enjoy!

4-5 pound pork shoulder roast (boneless or bone-in work fine)
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp vegetable oil
a couple shallots or yellow onion, sliced
1 rib celery, chopped
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 1/2 cups apple cider or juice
4 peeled garlic cloves
1 bay leaf
cayenne to taste
1 rounded teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons cold butter cut into small cubes
1 tbsp fresh herb – parsley, sage, thyme, etc.

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