The hardest thing when watching a beloved friend suffer, in this case, from fucking cancer, is the helplessness of not being able to do anything. On Saturday I was messaging with a friend and when I again said, "anything you need...." and she reminded me of a meal I had made them a few years back. I told her I'd drop it off on the next day. Then I excitedly said I'd bring something every few days and she laughed at me said, "easy there." The next morning Ernie woke me up and said, "Don't we need to get that started?" I sleepily muttered something about another half hour. He asked where the recipe was and I mumbled "google rosemary and pork on my blog." A little bit later I came awake to the scent of pork being browned. I stumbled downstairs and he had everything going. I helped with the last step or so and we got it in the crock pot...pork shoulder, onions, garlic, chicken broth, white wine, and rosemary. It smelled better and better as the day went on. When it was falling apart we pulled it out of the pot and strained and defatted the liquid. I took a bit of butter and flour and Dijon mustard and made a sauce with that for the pork. We made some mashed potatoes to go with it, and I sauteed a few sugar snap peas for some green and added a few of Leo and Ernie's white chocolate chip cookies in the bag. We dropped it on their porch and texted her that it was there. Later that afternoon I got this message:
The man who will eat nothing ate a decent amount of your dinner. I remember you made this for us in 2014 when he was having chemo. I don't know what the magic is. He said you were so sweet to do this. A relief from the somnolence here. Love you.
They have no idea what a gift it was to be able to do something.
Pork Shoulder with Rosemary and Mustard
taken from the Joy of Cooking 1997 edition
pork shoulder (about 7 lbs)
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 cup dry white wine (or whatever cheap box of white wine you have of course)
1 medium carrot (I didn't use carrot this time as he doesn't care for them)
1 medium onion
2 chopped cloves of garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons dried rosemary (I probably used more than it called for---more like 2 teaspoons)
4 tablespoons (half a stick) of butter
1/4 cup flour
2-3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Brown the heck out of the pork shoulder on all sides (in a bit of oil), then salt and pepper it well and put it in the crock pot. Drain the rendered fat and leave just a bit in the pan. Toss in the vegetables and cook until softened and slightly browned. Add to the crock pot, followed by the chicken stock and the white wine. Cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours (it took the full six hours).
Remove the pork shoulder, which will be falling apart tender. Set it on a platter and cover with foil. Skim the fat off of the liquid remaining in the crockpot (I used a fat separator to get as much as possible). Then melt half a stick of butter in a pan. Once melted whisk in the flour. Once is it smoothly mixed, pour in the skimmed liquid. Add 2-3 (I normally use 3, but wanted this not to be too sharp so used 2 this time) tablespoons of Dijon mustard, and whisk it in, bringing it to a boil, stirring as it thickens.
And because I don't have a picture of that, but hate posting without a picture, I give you what we had later for dinner....sauteed green beans, onion, orange bell pepper and shrimp. Just a tiny drizzle of hoisin on the shrimp, nothing else. Simple. Good. Cooking and eating is a gift. I take it for granted, but I am grateful.