I am in the awkward position of knowing what I want (and having the hardware!), but not being quite sure how to get there.
I am the new owner of a Hamilton Beach slow-cooker (the one with the temperature probe that sticks inside the meat) and a "Whole Fresh Picnic" hunk of pork (five pounds, looks like most of it is still covered by skin.)
What I am shooting for is a super-unctuous slow-cooked pork that is absolutely falling apart, a holy gelatinous mass of flavor. The best example I have ever seen of this was ham hocks fresh out of ceramic pots at upscale Chinese buffets. I am wondering if there is some way to translate that to this similar-if-larger piece of meat, but I'm stumbling a bit on the mechanics. Brown the picnic before it goes in the slowcooker?
Brine it before browning?
How far up the meat should the standing moisture go in the slowcooker?
And exactly what spices would be best? I've got candied ginger, star anise, five-spice powder, and even packets of Chinese pork flavorings from a local market (lots of big dried herbs and who knows what. Ingredients: Radix Codonopsis, Radix Gleniae, Ginger Slices, Polygonatum, Yam, Lily Bulb, Coix Seed, Haricot Bean.)
And of course I'm curious exactly how long to go and at what temperature. Time is of no concern, heck if it needs a week I don't care. If I need more ingredients that's no problem either.
Sorry for the complexity of the question, but I'm going to make this one of my most frequent dishes at home if I can get it right. The nearest restaurant I know that serves this pork preparation is just over two hours away and I'm totally entranced by it. Can anyone help?