There are probably some people out there who think the only thing I know how to do with a pork shoulder/Boston butt is to make BBQ pulled pork. And, while that is almost the world’s perfect food, I am capable of doing other things with this humble cut of meat.
In fact, I’m going French and making a cassoulet. A cassoulet combines beans, meat and seasonings together over a long, slow cook to make filling fare – the beans are creamy, the meat is succulent and the aromatic veggies help to flavor the rich stock. Taking this dish to the crock pot, frees up the cook to, I don’t know, enjoy a Mardi Gras parade or two.
There is a long soak of the beans, which I find helpful in muting their more musical qualities. I’m giving this a little Louisiana flavor with blackening seasoning on the meat and the andouille sausage.
Pork Shoulder Cassoulet in the Slow Cooker
4-5 lb. boneless pork shoulder, cut into 8 or 10 pieces and trimmed of excess fat
Blackening seasoning (my recipe is here)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, coarsely chopped
2 cups dry white wine
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes
2 carrots, cut in half
2 stalks celery, cut in half
2 cups chicken broth
1 lb Great Northern beans or other small white dried beans, soaked overnight
1 lb. andouille sausage, halved on the bias
10 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
2 bay leaves
Cook’s note: I recommend doing all of the prep work the night before because the slow cooker will take up to 10 hours to cook the pork. Once all the prep is done, store it overnight in the fridge in your crock pot insert (or a plastic container) and everything will be ready to go first thing.
The day before:
Season the pork generously with blackening seasons; set aside.
Heat a large skillet with the olive oil. Add half of the pork to the skillet and brown on all sides, 7 to 8 minutes total. Transfer to a platter. Repeat with the remaining pork. Add the onions and 1 teaspoon kosher salt to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and softened, about 10 minutes. Add the wine and simmer until reduced by half, about 8 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, tomatoes, carrots, celery and broth. Remove the skillet from the heat and add the beans, pork, andouille and garlic. Place everything in the insert of your slow cocker and cover with plastic or put in a plastic container and refrigerate overnight.
The next morning:
Place everything in the slow-cooker, cover and cook on low until the pork pulls apart easily with a fork, 8 to 10 hours. Skim off the fat and remove carrots, celery and bay leaves. Adjust the seasonings with kosher salt and pepper.
Let the cassoulet stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes before serving.
Adapted from a recipe by Thomas Keller, Chef/Owner, The French Laundry.