One of the hazards of having home raised meat (versus meat bought at the store) is that now and then we end up with a package that is unlabeled. Mystery Meat.
Most times we can make an educated guess what is under the white wrapper (aka freezer paper) based on what portion of the freezer the mystery package was located in. Or, if worse comes to worse, we can always unwrap it and take a peek.
However, once in a while, we get a package that is unlabeled and I have no idea what it is! Such is the case with the meat I am cooking today.
Today's mystery meat came to me a while back (okay, over a year ago. Mystery meat is scary stuff) as part of a couple of boxes of meat that Mother-in-Law had sent home with DH's sister who lives not far from us. Sister was to bring the boxes of meat to us (she also had her own two boxes of meat to keep). So, by the time the boxes arrived at my house, via DH going to his sister's place to pick them up--and getting a brief overview from her of what their mother had sent--the large roast-looking thing half out of it's unmarked freezer paper was truly a mystery. DH had no clue what cut it was. His sister could shed no light on it's identity either. What I had in front of me was a frozen hunk of something. . . about six pounds worth, with at least one bone in it (a rib, I think), some fat on the edges, and the flesh was kind of reddish. Most of the meat in the boxes Mother-in-Law had sent were pork from the pig she had taken to the butcher the week before. But there were also a few packages of beef cuts too.
Hmm. The meat looked rather red for pork. Yet it didn't seem quite the right shade for beef. At the time, I rewrapped it with fresh freezer paper, wrote "Beef? Pork? Roast" on the package, and stuffed it into the chest freezer.
From time to time since that day, I have stumbled across it in the bottom recesses of the deep freeze. Intimidated by it's lack of species identification, I have looked the other way and instead grabbed roasts that were clearly marked.
Until now. Now I have come to a point where it is the only roast left in the freezer. Gulp. Time to face the mystery meat. And, note to self, time to really push for DH to allow me to start raising our meat since his mother is no longer the reliable source she used to be. Used to be we'd ask her to raise a pig for us, and she'd do it with us paying for feed and butchering. Except for when she decides, half-way through the raising, that it somehow isn't fair to DH's siblings that we get a whole pig, so she divides one pig five ways. Ugh. Which creates a scarcity of meat in my freezer right about now. Especially since DH's sisters don't want hocks and sausage, just chops and hams and bacon and roasts.
Anyway. . .
I allowed ye olde mystery meat to thaw in the fridge all weekend. This morning, I unwrapped it, smelled it (yeah, like meat that has been in the deep freeze for over a year is really going to smell like fresh beef or fresh pork, sometimes I amaze myself), and attempted to put it into my six quart crock pot.
No go. The darn bones (I have determined there is more than one, it might be some sort of rib roast?? I think I might even see some split vertebrae) are too long to fit into even my big crock pot. Well shoot.
Plan B. I got out the covered enamel roaster I usually use for chickens, and stuck it in that instead. Tossed some of my fail safe meat seasonings on it (namely Lawry's, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder), poured in a cup of water to keep the mystery meat from sticking to the roaster, put the lid on, and stuffed it in the oven on 325 degrees. For a long time.
Well, for an afternoon. Nearly four hours so far. Whatever it is (I think a pork shoulder cut at the spine and then in half??), it is going to end up as shredded/pulled meat at dinner time. I just have to decide now whether to go with barbecue sauce on it, or if I want to spice it up Mexican with chili powder and cumin, or if I want to go with pasta and tomato sauce to try to make it Italian.
Because if it truly is a giant hunk of pork, I'm going to require some strong flavors to mask the porkiness. I typically prefer my pork smoked, as in ham or bacon or hocks rather than as a roast. Or in thinner cuts I can grill or shake-n-bake (homemade seasoning, of course) like chops and steaks.
But at least the mystery meat will be dealt with. It will get eaten, and no longer lurk menacingly in my freezer.