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!
 


Ingredients:
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.

View the complete recipe

54 comments:

Food Junkie said...

I have always found the slow cooker to be a great way to do pork or pot roasts. I haven't tried apple juice juice for the liquid as I tend to lean towards savory and spicy instead of sweet. But this sounds too good so I will be trying it. I think there is one pork roast left in the freezer from last year's side of pork.

Nick said...

Looks delicious! But I don't have a slow cooker. Can I do this with a dutch oven?

Chef John said...

Yes! (see last paragraph) ;)

Steve said...

Chef:

This looks great and I'm eager to try it. Would any sort of brining of the pork be of benefit or would that just be overkill?

Another question: how were the carrots prepared? They look interesting, too.

Joel said...

Keep the cold weather recipes coming!

Jay M. said...

Carrots? I thought those were some wicked crispy sweet potato fries!

Chef John said...

Steve, brining is usually for dry heat methods of cooking. here it would be a waste of time. also, those arent carrot, but sweet potato fries!

Steve said...

Chef:

Re: brining. Thanks. Immediately after I posted I realized the same thing.

Re: "carrots." Blush.

Anonymous said...

your cookware "All-Clad"?
always amazed at how clean your cookware looks!
what do you use to clean your stainless cookware?

Chef John said...

lol! Me? Clean cookware? That's a good one. I think they use Bar Keeper's Secret. ;)

KXJ said...

is there a place where we can print recipes with directions? I'm getting tired of writing all of the directions down by hand!

Jenna said...

Chef quick question... I am making this to take to friends as part of a complete meal on Saturday (we live in NH and they have not had power for 5 days). I was thinking I would make the sauce here and pour over the entire roast and put back in my crock pot for transport (since my crock pot will keeps food warm for hours without power). Will the sauce hold together or should I just skip it this time?

Chef John said...

Jenna, It sound be fine! Even if it breaks, it will still taste fine.

Chef John said...

KXJ, I don't do written recipes, for the same reason you don't like to write them down! (Since I work so hard to make these free videos for you, it's really the least you can do ;)

Chef John said...

KXJ, forgot to add... people learn to cook MUCH better when they don't have access to written recipes (except for baking)...true story!

Susan Chin said...

Hi Chef John,

This recipe seems very easy to make. I will try this soon once I have a slow cooker. Thank you Chef.

Regards,
Susan Chin

Mike said...

I was thinking ..Why do the searing, sweating and other prep when using the slow cooker. Then we tried this last night and WOW! I tasted the meat and it was a little bland right out of the slow cooker. Then Judy did the reduction and seasoned the sauce and meat. It was perfect just so tender and tons of flavor. We had ours with pan fried sweet potato string fries.
Way to go Chef John.

Anonymous said...

Chef John,
I had the family to dinner last night and made this. It was very well received. My 16 year old grandson liked the reduction so much that he also put it on his dressing and green beans. Wow, what a guy. My concerns about it being too sweet were unfounded as the vinegar added an entirely new dimension to the flavor. The meat was also delicious. Thanks very much for such an enjoyable meal.

Terra in Cripple Creek, Colorado

firenzemom said...

I just love your recipes and the way you present them. I can always find one I like and I can always follow it without any problems I promote your recipes often with my family and friends. If you start a tv show let me know I would watch it always and no I am not stalking you. It is just great that there is a how to video with the recipes.
That said, I am going to try this tonight with pork chops I have in my refrigerator. I will have to cook it in a pan or oven. Still looking for a slow cooker here in Italy.

Anonymous said...

I made this recipe yesterday, and it was fork-tender before 6 hours, I guess my crock pot runs a little hot. Thanks to you I was master of my pork roast and it was delicious. Served with mashed potatoes and we used the fantastic reduction sauce on both the meat and taters. Thanks so much, and hope to see more slow cooker recipes.

Jenna said...

Made this (using a boneless roast & pure pressed apple juice) and took to friends to have for dinner tonight. Everyone loved it! The only thing I would do differently in the future is adjust the amount of vinegar and seasoning to our particular palate. Such a fantastic Fall dinner! :)

Alec DiPietro said...

Hey Chef,

It seems that you didn't include the apple cider vinegar in the ingredients? Thanks just thought I would let you know.

Alec

Chef John said...

thanks, but apple cider vinegar is listed right above the apple juice.

B said...

Hi Chef John,

This recipe sounds so good....
I went looking for a 4-5 lb shoulder roast and could only find a whole 9-lb shoulder ("picnic", whatever that means).... can I just double the recipe and adjust cooking time? Or is there something else i should do to adjust the recipe for a bigger roast?

-Bea

Anonymous said...

This looks so good. I want to try it. My local grocery store carries a "picnic" pork shoulder roast. Will that work with this recipe?

Joanna said...

I couldn't find a pork shoulder roast at my grocery store, so I picked up a pork butt roast. Will this still work?

Chef John said...

pork butt is pork shoulder! :-)

Joanna said...

Thanks, Chef John! My pork butt, aka pork shoulder, is in the crock pot.

Chef John said...

Great! Enjoy!

Anonymous said...

Hi Chef, I was wondering if I could do this recipe with meat or chicken since I'm Jewish and can't eat pork?

Chef John said...

Of course, but depending on the cut and size meat u use you'll have to adjust cooking times.

Danny M said...

Do you feel a bone in cut adds more flavor?

Chef John said...

yes

Anonymous said...

HI chef John
Would like to ask you .
Am i able to substitute the cider & vinegar with Dry White Wine instead?

hope u reply asap , wanting to try for New Year's day Party .
Thanks a million

Anonymous said...

Hi chef
can i use White wine instead of apple juice ??

Chef John said...

Sure, BUT the sweetness from the apple is a big part of the dish IMO.

nikkipolani said...

This was fantastic (delicious, tender, flavorful) -- thanks so much! Made it much easier in the kitchen at Christmas time to cook in a slow-cooker.

Anonymous said...

Chef, if I used Oven instead of slow cooker, do i still keep it at 275 degrees for 6 hours? or can it be faster by 350 degree for around 2-3 hours?

Blue Arc said...

I did this yesterday. It was delicious. I haven't used my crock pot in years. Surprised me it still worked. I had mashed tators with it and I attempted German sweet and sour cabbage which failed. It had apple and vinegar in it also so I thought it would go. It was gross but the pork was delicious. I'm thinking next time I make this I'll have scalloped potatoes with it. I'll have to think more on the vegetable dish. Thanks Chef! A really good pork shoulder recipe this is.

Anonymous said...

Hi Checf John: thank you for the recipe. Can I subsitute Apple Juice with Apple sauce? Thanks

Chef John said...

probably!

Rob Pitingolo said...

This dish just didn't go well for me. First, I got home from the supermarket only to discover I accidentally bought "Apple Juice Drink" which is mostly water. Determined to make this pork, I rolled with the punch.

Then I erred on the side of "a little too long" in the slow cooker but wound up with pulled pork. Womp Womp.

However, unlike the actual pulled pork video on this site, the pork I had this time was horribly fatty, since the fats didn't drip off like they did when I slow cooked the shoulder for 12 hours without any liquid. I wound up having to pull the big chunks of fat out with my fingers, which was hardly a pleasant task.

Chef John said...

Yes, as you found out, not a dish you want to cook that long. Also, the real apple juice is key!

Mark said...

I have cooked this twice. Today will be my 3rd time.

I used yellow onions instead of shallots.

The first time I cooked it just long enough and it was great.

The second time I cooked a little too long and it was like pulled pork but it was still great.

I think if you follow the recipe you can't go wrong this dish is great!

Axcel142 said...

Chef John, I am new to slow cooker cooking but intend to make this roast for Easter. My roast, however, is 7.6 pounds and is not boneless. Might you estimate how much longer it will take to cook? I'll know when it's done, but I'd rather not serve dinner at midnight. Thanks & have a nice Easter!

Chef John said...

Can't give a time, but just cook until tender! Enjoy!

axcel142 said...

The roast is in the pot! I had to resist the temptation to put it on a bed of sauerkraut, but it smells great already. Thanks again, chef.

AJ Angiuli said...

Chef John,
First I have to say I love watching your videos, they have made my cooking that much better...... Now for my question...I am planning on making this braised pork recipe for our Easter dinner. I was not able to find a boneless pork shoulder and settled on a 12lb. Pork (tenderloin) roast....should I adjust the cooking times for the smaller size of the meat? And can I still braise the pork before setting it into the slow cooker? My plan is to split the roast in half and cook 2 separate 6 pounders in 2 slow cookers. Thanks again for all the great recipes and videos
AJ

Chef John said...

If it's 12 pounds its a loin not a tenderloin, but both are MUCH leaner than shoulder and personally not recommended for the slow cooker. If you do want to do it, yes, use the low setting until fork tender.

Chef John said...

And thanks!!

axcel14222 said...

I mistakenly unplugged the slow cooker(thinking it was the toaster cord) for about an hour. Still, after almost 9 hours, my 7.6 pound roast was bloody when pierced. I made alternate plans for dinner that night and put the roast and braising liquid separately on ice. Two days later, I skimmed the congealed fat off the braising liquid and finished the roast in a dutch oven on the stove, slowly for about 2.5 hours. It was succulent, tender and delicious with the reduction sauce. Thank you again, Chef John.
By the way, I think I need rehab. I'm addicted to this site. In the last week, I've made, in addition to the pork roast, your roasted chicken soup (twice), the ham and potato soup, banana bread (twice), french toast and I may attempt the pierogi tomorrow.

Allan Castine said...

This is for KXJ and/or anyone else who is looking for written directions for this recipe:

I have all of the ingredients plus the complete directions for this recipe typed up in a MS WORD document. If you would like a copy, e-mail your request to me at racastine@aol.com.

KXJ said...

Thanks! that was nice of you. very thoughtful!

cookinmom said...

Made this last night and ohhh so good! My husband said it was the "best tasting pork he's had in the house!" Burp ;) Complements to the Chef!!! Again as all say, thanks for your patience with us everyday cooks!