Autumn's here! At least at our house in New England. The leaves are turning and coming down. The quality of daylight is unsurpassed; the air, sweater-worthy. Frankly, it's our favorite time of the year. We don't want to waste a minute of it.
Sundays are precious. We're most likely to get out and take a walk on a Sunday, fall afternoon. Or we'll start the needed garden clean-up. Or we'll just take a drive. Anything, really, to get outside.
So a very simple (7 ingredient!), hearty, satisfying pork dish out of the slow cooker is just the thing. There's not much to do for this one: brown the meat for more flavor (you need to counterbalance the maple syrup and soy sauce with savory notes) and turn on the machine. Then wait. That may be the hardest part. So get outside!
One note: these are bone-in pork butt chops. You can sometimes also find bone-in pork shoulder chops--which would make a fine substitution here. If neither is available, buy a pork butt and ask the butcher to cut it into chops for you. And if all else falls, use country-style pork ribs (not the regular barbecue ribs). These last will be fattier and won't offer as much flavor--but there's no use standing on ceremony when a fall day is beckoning from your doorstep.
- 4 1/2 pounds (2 kilos) bone-in pork butt chops (that is, 6 at about 3/4 pound each), trimmed of any chunks of fat
- 2 tablespoons (30 grams) unsalted butter
- 6 medium carrots, peeled
- 6 medium garlic cloves, peeled
- 1/3 cup (80 ml) maple syrup
- 1/3 cup (80 ml) soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1. Melt the butter in a large nonstick skillet set over medium heat. Add about half the chops and brown them on all sides, turning occasionally, about 5 minutes. Transfer these to a 5- or 6-quart slow cooker and brown the remaining chops in the skillet.
2. Tuck the carrots and garlic around the chops. Whisk the maple syrup, soy sauce, and pepper in a small bowl until smooth, then pour over the chops.
3. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.
If desired, you can finish the sauce for a fancier dish. You don't need to--it'll just be very soupy. Here's how. Use kitchen tongs to transfer the ribs, carrots, and garlic to a big bowl. Pour the liquid into the cooker into a fat separator, wait a minute or so, and then pour the strained liquid into a medium saucepan. (If you don't have a fat separator, skim the sauce with a flatware tablespoon to remove as much of the surface fat as possible.) Bring the strained sauce to a boil over high heat; boil until reduced by about half, about 5 minute. Swirl in 1 tablespoon unsalted butter before serving.