Braising Boston Butt, Bolognese-Style

[Preface: I originally published this on WordPress last week, when I decided to channel my creative energy and writing into a blog. However, I’ve decided to switch over to Medium for my writing. So! I’m copying and pasting it here. Enjoy!]

Part 1: Fuck Lazy Susan

Patience. Give me PATIENCE.

As I sat down to write my first post, sitting placidly and smiling ever-so-slightly, my calm facade disappeared in the flash of a moment:

Dear Lord, I’ve used the wrong pot.

Instead of fitting my pork butt into a “snug” saucepan, I had, due to inattentive reading of the recipe, thrown it into a rather large sauce pan. So crisis mode sets in. Although the recipe I’m attempting contains very few steps and even fewer ingredients (Marcella Hazan’s Pork Braised in Milk, Bolognese Style, as published in her seminal cookbook The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking — if you don’t have a copy and have any interest in cooking whatsoever, GET ONE. From your library, for your tablet, from your local bookseller, hand-copied page-by-page from the copy at your local bookseller, whatever it may be), I’ve managed to fuck something up.

However, if my experience with cooking in the past and my habit of bingewatching Chopped have taught me anything , it’s that perseverance and and the ability to adapt are two immeasurably valuable personality traits to channel while in the kitchen.

So I power through it. I find a smaller sauce pan, use the shittiest fucking tongs ever manufactured by humankind to transfer the pork into the sauce pan, pour the nut-brown braising liquid over the meat, and bring it back to a lazy simmer. Now, all I have to do is place the cover on the new saucepan, slightly ajar.

And everything is fine. Crisis averted.

NOT.

I spent the next span of time trying to find the right cover for the sauce pan. First, I rummage through the Lazy Susan cabinet in the corner of my parents’ newly-remodeled kitchen. Then, as my search begins to prove futile, a steady stream of “fuck”s, “damn”s, “how-the-shit”s, and many other choice curse words begin to pour from my lips. After running back and forth between the stove and the Lazy Susan with several lids that are either slightly too large or slightly too small, I finally discover the proper lid hiding at the bottom of the largest sauce pan in the kitchen. Because, you know, that’s the logical place to store it. But now the lid had been found, what was past was past, blah blah blah.

Just a quick aside here: Lazy Susan can suck a fat one. I don’t know who she is, where she’s from, or what her life story is, but I can’t think of a kitschier or more poorly-designed cabinet than the one in the corner of my parents’ kitchen to which her name has been lent. May you rot in Hell, Suzy, may you never know the pleasure of another human’s kind touch!

Anyways…

Victorious, I place the lid on the sauce pan and, to make sure I have all of the instructions down pat, I read the recipe one more time to be sure.

Uh-oh.

In the least conspicuous of places, approximately halfway into the longest step of the recipe, the following sentence begins to glare me in the face, a slight smirk across its face:

Altogether it will take between 2 1/2 and 3 hours.

Shit.

You see, when I first read through the recipe, I interpreted the above sentence as pertaining to the entire length of time the recipe would take, not just that one step, an interpretation that I now see as completely and hopelessly brainless. If hindsight is 20/20, then my foresight is 20/200000000000000000000000000……….

I glance at the clock: 4:02 pm.

I do some quick math.

Ok, so when the step I’m currently working on has finished, it’ll be 4:05. The next step involves adding more milk to the meat and simmering for 10 minutes, then covering it for half an hour, then letting that milk simmer until no liguid is left, then adding more milk, then letting that simmer down until no liquid remains, which is gonna be 2 1/2–3 hours, so … Let’s see here … That means dinner won’t occur until approximately, oh, 8–9 pm?

Shit.

I have no problem whatsoever with eating dinner at 8 pm. In fact, I rather enjoy later dinners because it takes me back to my time abroad in Bologna, studying wine-drinking and the art of dolce far niente. In Italy, as well as in much of Europe, dinner is enjoyed in the later evening while nothing more than a light snack and an aperitif is consumed at the normal American dinner hour. The problem is that the rest of my family (father, mother, 2 sisters) cannot abide a dinner later than 7 pm.

So I sit here writing this blog post and my dinner won’t be ready for another hour-and-a-half (if I’m lucky), and my entire family will have to subsist on whatever scraps they dig up from the refrigerator, paired with the frustration brewing in their souls due to my poor time management skills.

I blame it all on Lazy Susan.

Part 2: Ruby the Cat is an Asshole

Ruby the cat. Don’t let her cute kitty cat eyes fool you, she’s an asshole.

A Brief Preface:

My parents have two pets, one dog — Luca — and one cat — Ruby, full name Ruby Louise. My mother has, for as long as I can remember, been infatuated with the name “Ruby Louise” because of the titular character of Peggy Rathmann’s classic children’s book Ruby the Copycat, a tale of a young girl who finds that her personality and individuality lie not in copying the acts of others, but rather in forging her own path. She also happens to look like a malnourished Natalie Portman about one month after she had to shave her head for filming of V for Vendetta.

This, in 1 month, becomes …
THIS. Which, given some time, can become …
THIS.

Luca is a butterball of joy and loyalty — JOYALTY, if you will (hm, i think if I ever decide to begin a career in drag, “Joyalty” might just have to become my new moniker … All copyrights reserved for Paul Perrone, 2015).

Luca, pretty standard resting position

Anyways, LOVE Luca to death. Ruby, on the other hand, is not even close to being granted entry on my Top Ten List of God’s Best Creatures (soon-to-come). In fact, I can’t think of anyone I dislike more than Ruby, save for possibly .. Toby Keith?

END OF PREFACE

So I’ve realized that the braised pork recipe I made yesterday is no more worth my blog treatment of it than it is other people consuming it (my dad did enjoy it, but then again he’s been known to overeat week-old, dyed, hardboiled Easter eggs. And then having some major BMs for the next hour). I’ve put some pics down below if you’re interested (I write as if someone is reading this!).

Someone who did seem to enjoy the pork, however, was Ruby the cat. She’s sneaky AF and every time I turned my back, she would jump up and cautiously approach the serving platter on counter. A few seconds later, I would hear the sounds of her selfish little cat tongue lapping up all of the pork juices from the platter.

Don’t try me, you little shit.

No matter how many times I douse her with water from the spray bottle next to the stove, no matter how many times I hiss and make a whole assortment of guttural moans and groans and wave my arms to and fro to scare her away, the second I turn my back she’s always getting her little kitty-litter-dingleberry-covered cat ass all up in my cooking and it’s NOT COOL.

She’s an asshole.

Anyways, here are some pictures of the pork. I have to say it was moist, tender, and definitely edible. It was just simply the blandest recipe I’ve ever attempted.

The Ingredients
The finished product. Parsley was necessary to make it appealing to the eye.
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