POT ROASTED PORK
Braising requires that meat be browned and then simmered slowly in a covered pot with a flavoring of vegetables and liquid. It differs from stewing only in that the pieces of meat are larger and less liquid is used in the cooking. Both methods are useful for cheap cuts of meat with plenty of fat marbling: Quick cooking methods, like a fast sauté, would render these cuts tough and gristly, while a long, slow braise melts the fat and leaves the meat tender and succulent. Pot-roasting pork isn’t difficult if you follow a few basic rules:
o First, choose an appropriate cut of pork. Most American groceries offer pork loin, a lean cut without much marbling that is dry when braised. Ask you butcher for a boneless Boston butt (the boneless roll of muscle at the base of the neck) or, as second choice, a blade-end pork loin roast. Pork shoulder is a third possibility. While boneless roasts are easier to carve, a bone-in roast will work equally well with these recipes.
o Second, choose a heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid (Le Creuset enamel-covered iron pots are perfect for this) that is just large enough to hold the roast; in a large pot the liquid will spread out, evaporate more quickly and the roast might burn. The liquid can be water, juice, beer, wine or some combination thereof.
o Third, coat the pot with a little oil (just enough to cover the surface and protect the meat– remember, your pork roast will render more fat), heat it and brown the meat thoroughly (don’t be tempted to shortcut the browning because the browned crust adds flavor to the sauce). When the roast is in the oven, go low and slow. Two hours of slow and mostly unsupervised simmering (you should baste it in the pan juices a couple of times) in a 325* oven will produce delicious results.
o Fourth, if you want to thicken the pan juices into a gravy, add a tablespoon or two of beurre manie (equal amounts of softened butter and flour mixed together into a soft paste) to the juices after they have been strained and returned to the pot. Simmer for several minutes until the sauce thickens.
o I have not personally used a slow cooker with these recipes, but the general slow cooker instructions are to brown the roast as directed above, then add to the slow cooker with the liquid and other ingredients specified in the recipe. Bring to a boil, cover and cook on high 3-1/2 to 4 hours. Transfer pork to a cutting board, tent it with foil, and transfer vegetables or other ingredients to a platter. Skim the fat off of the sauce in the slow cooker, and simmer it briskly over high heat for 8 to 10 minutes, or until it thickens lightly. Slice the pork, arrange it on the platter with the vegetables and drizzle it with sauce. Serve remaining sauce on the side.