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Cooking In Real Time: Oktoberfest -- Cooking With Beer

Slow Cooker Ale-Braised Pork

Oktoberfest is here! There are so many wonderful beers to try and many of them
are an excellent addition to recipes. The right beer can add a lot of flavor to a dish and helps tenderize meat. The alcohol cooks away, leaving great taste.

Try this slow cooker pork roast. It has very few ingredients and can be put together fast on a work day morning.

Lots of recipes want you to brown your meat before putting it in the slow cooker. I say forget it – browning the meat doesn’t offer enough additional flavor to make it worth your time. It’s important to use good quality spices though. The fewer the ingredients, the more you notice their quality!

Slow Cooker Ale-Braised Pork

2 medium yellow onions
6 whole peeled garlic cloves
1.5 – 3 lb. pork butt
1 Tbsp. Kosher salt (not table salt)
1 tsp chili con carne seasoning
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1 bottle (12 oz.) Newcastle Brown Ale, or similar sweet brown ale
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. corn starch
2 Tbsp. apple cider or cider vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Be sure to use a sweeter beer for this. Not any beer will do; Guinness and pale ales for example will really give you a bitter broth.

You’re using a less expensive pork butt for this recipe, as pork tenderloin is too lean to survive several hours in a slow cooker.

Trim the fat from the outside of the pork butt but don’t worry about the bone. It
will pull away from the meat as everything braises and will be simple to remove.

Coat the crock of a 3-5 quart slow cooker with cooking spray. Peel the onions and slice them across the middle horizontally. Cut each onion half into ½-inch slices and put in the slow cooker. Add the peeled garlic cloves.

In a small bowl, mix together the Kosher salt, cinnamon, and chili con carne
seasoning. (I recommend a trip to Penzey’s on Rockville Pike for the best and
freshest spices. Their chili con carne blend is very flavorful and nicely balanced –
and no MSG!)

Rub the salt and seasonings over all sides of the meat. If you like, you can rub the meat the night before and keep in the fridge – it will add even more flavor!

Place the seasoned meat on the onions. Pour the ale around the meat, but not on it. You don’t want to dislodge your spices.

Cook on low 6-8 hours. The length of time will depend upon the size of your pork
butt and the size and temperature of your slow cooker. You’ll know the meat is done when it falls apart as you shred it with a fork.

For soft tacos or nachos, serve the shredded meat and onion with your choice of
toppings: fresh cilantro, fresh avocado, shredded cabbage, cheese, sour cream, and/or red onion.

You’ll have some leftover broth. You can either freeze it to use another time,
or thicken it to serve immediately. If you’ve trimmed the pork butt well, there
shouldn’t be much excess grease to worry about.

To thicken the broth, remove the meat from the slow cooker. Turn the heat up to
high. In a small bowl mix together the brown sugar and corn starch, add the cider vinegar or apple cider and mix until the corn starch and sugar dissolve.

Add to the liquid in the crock and stir well. Replace the lid and allow to cook on
high until the broth has thickened, about half and hour. Taste to correct seasonings. Return the meat to the crock, shred it, and serve over rice.

Kirsten Hall November 07, 2011 at 09:43 PM
I'm looking forward to trying this. I don't have a slow cooker, but I imagine I can cover and roast slowly in the oven as well.

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