The house is ALIVE with the smell of dead pig meat. No, really. The aroma is heavenly, so that piggie is in a good place. I'm OK with that.
The story here is that I finally resorted to using my old Crock Pot, a genuine relic from the '70s in a shade of harvest gold. We only use it for beans around here, but Zoomie and Biggles had been having success slow-cooking wads of muscle. I had to try.
Still, I was dubious. That bone-in pork shoulder (or "butt") sat, vacuum sealed, in the freezer for months. I couldn't get my mojo working.
Until this damn winter of a spring drove me to craving soft, stringy meat, warm from its bath and fragrant with aromatics.
I cooked it on high for a few hours (I don't know how many, four or five), until it was fally-aparty. It takes a while. If you stick a fork in it and feel any resistance or tightness, it ain't done. The truth is, I don't think you can even overcook meat in a Crock Pot.
But we happened to stop it at the right instant. One little trimming of pork that had been cut off so the rest would fit was immediately dispatched to our mouths. I didn't feel guilty at all, even though I had grand plans for making arepas and coleslaw. Later on.
The meat rested in its hot liquid for a few more hours, still "cooking" but not overcooking, and soon we craved another bite. Arepas be damned. We wanted bites of this incredible pork as god intended, straight from the Crock Pot. Mmm. Little meltings of fat that almost tasted like butter. Tender shreds of meat, flavored with bay leaves, onions, garlic, orange rind, salt and pepper. Soft, juicy. What could be better?
Nothing! This is the best job I've ever done with a hunk of meat. Ever. Well, I've finally got the Christmas roast beef down to a science, but that's only once a year (and it's still subject to goof-ups). I cannot cook a chicken, this is known. Fish, bacon, steaks, fine. But it's the hunks that throw me.
Until now. I can't wait to do this again.