Remember what it was like when you were a kid and you came in from playing outside and you could smell dinner cooking? That’s what the slow cooker does. If you squint hard enough, it’s like someone else did all the work to get dinner on the table.
Slow cookers are great during the week, but equally great for weekend dinners, when you have errands to run and fun things on the agenda, and none of them involve spending a lot of time in the kitchen.
Last Saturday, Steve and I planned to head out for brunch to Lou Henri’s, a local place that’s only open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. every day and serves great omelets and other breakfast specialties. I took a shower and got dressed, and proceeded to get moving on this recipe – I figured it would make an excellent dinner, and I knew we had a long day of planned activities ahead of us.
I fired up the skillet to brown the meat before throwing it in the slow cooker, and got to work. The meat sizzled, the house began to smell porkalicious, and I wandered out to water the garden. I returned in time to turn the meat, then went out to the living room, where Steve was working on an essay.
“I guess we’re eating breakfast here,” he said, crestfallen.
“No, I’m making dinner,” I said. “I’m just browning the pork.”
Steve’s face brightened. It would be Lou Henri’s after all! Behold the power of the slow cooker. It brings you down, then up again.
And when we got home that night? The whole house was redolent with garlic and onion, and while I let the meat rest, further scented with sage and apple and port.
1 boneless pork loin roast, approximately 3 pounds
1 Tbsp. canola oil
3-4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 onion, sliced
1 c. chicken broth
Salt and pepper
2 tart apples, diced
2 Tbsp. port
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh sage
Put the garlic and onions in the slow cooker. Heat the oil in a skillet. Brown the pork roast on all sides, which should take about 10 minutes. Add the pork to the slow cooker, pour the chicken broth over the roast, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook on the low setting for 8 to 10 hours, until pork is tender.
Remove the pork from the slow cooker and let it rest on a cutting board. Meanwhile, sauté the apples in a non-stick skillet for two to three minutes, until they just begin to release their juice. Add the liquid (including the onions and garlic) from the crock-pot. Add the port, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and let the mixture reduce by about half. Add the sage approximately halfway through the reduction.
Slice the pork and serve the apple reduction over the meat.