Posted by: scootrah | October 13, 2014

The Slow Cooker Pork Roast Challenge

I know there will be a lot of you who disagree with me or are even outraged when I say I’m not a huge fan of meals that come out of a slow cooker. Yes it’s convenient and lots of people swear by it because you can have a hot meal when you get home after a long day of work, but I never feel like the flavors really blend that well, and I’m easily annoyed by having to brown or prep ingredients in another pan before transferring it all to the slow cooker. If that’s what the recipe calls for, I’d rather just do it all on the stove or in the oven rather than get a bunch of other pans dirty. But that’s just me.

All that being said, I still try to find recipes and ideas I can do in the slow cooker that I like. A lot of soups I make are great for it, and chili is a no-brainer. So a friend of mine sent me this pork roast/pork tenderloin idea she swears by and I thought I’d give it a shot.

One of the awesome things about this recipe is the very few ingredients needed – an A+ for that! But my luck with putting any kind of roast into the slow cooker without searing it first has always fallen short on flavor. That caramelization you get from browning the meat first adds so much richness to the dish I just couldn’t help myself and browned it on the stove first. Oh, and I seasoned the roast first too with some salt and pepper. At the end of the process there was a lot of liquid left which was a little too runny and a little too sweet, so I reduced it on the stove and added some balsamic vinegar to cut the sweet – delicious! The result was a hit with the eaters in our house – I gave it a solid B+, which is much higher than I usually rate these recipes, and would definitely make it again.

Something I’ve learned using the slow cooker is that you really can overcook things like a roast if you use too much liquid. It tends to boil the meat rather than braise it, which draws the flavor out of the meat and into the liquid, and it will dry it out. So my suggestion would be to use the lower heat setting and test the meat at the end of the recommended short cooking time. It’s much easier to cook a little longer to get your desired doneness than to save something that’s overcooked! And I used two pork tenderloins for this – they’re much leaner and cook quite quickly, and I found they were nicely done at about 3 hours on low.

And by the way – I would LOVE to have you send me some of your favorite slow cooker recipe ideas. Make me a believer! You can leave your recipe in the comments, or in email. Please help me be a convert!

So – here’s what I came up with for this roast…

Start with 2 1/2 to 3 pound pork roast or pork tenderloin. Season it all over with salt and black pepper…

pork roast seasoned with salt and pepper

…heat a saute pan over medium high heat and add a tablespoon of oil, then give the pork a good sear on all sides so it’s nice and brown…

seared pork tenderloin

…while you’ve got the pork on to sear, in a small bowl whisk together the soy sauce, maple syrup, garlic powder and chopped onion…

IMG_7998

 

…remove the pork from the pan and place into the slow cooker. Put 1/3 cup water into the pan and using a wooden spoon, scrape up any of the browned bits from the bottom of the pan, let it come to a boil, then pour the liquid into your soy sauce mix and whisk together. Now pour this mixture over the pork in the slow cooker…

IMG_8002

…cover and cook on low 4 to 6 hours (probably 3 to 4 hours for pork tenderloin). Test the meat at the end of the suggested short cooking time, return to the slow cooker if needed, or remove to a plate and keep covered.

Pour the liquid from the slow cooker into a saucepan and bring to a low boil and reduce liquid to about 1/2 cup. Slice the pork and place on a platter (pour any of the liquid from the resting plate into your sauce). Stir two tablespoons balsamic vinegar into your sauce and drizzle some over the pork on your platter. Serve remaining sauce on the side.

Dinner is served!

Dinner is served!

Slow Cooker Pork Roast

  • 2 – 3 pounds pork roast or pork tenderloin
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 Tblsp garlic powder
  • 3 Tblsp maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 2 Tblsp olive oil
  • 2 Tblsp balsamic vinegar

Heat a saute pan on medium high heat. Season the roast or tenderloin all over with salt and pepper.

Add a tablespoon of oil to the pan and sear the pork on all sides until browned. Remove roast to slow cooker.

Pour 1/3 cup water into pan and scrape up any browned bits from the pork while the liquid comes to a boil. Pour the liquid into your sauce and whisk to combine.

In a small bowl whisk together soy sauce, garlic powder, maple syrup and onion and remaining oil.

Pour the sauce over the pork in slow cooker. Cover and cook on low 4 to 6 hours (3 to 4 hours for tenderloin). Check meat for doneness after 4 hours and return to slow cooker if needed.

Remove meat from cooker and cover to rest and keep warm.

Pour the liquid from the slow cooker into a saucepan and bring to a low boil, then reduce liquid to about 1/2 cup. Stir the balsamic vinegar into the sauce and serve with pork.

 

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