We are easing into the New Year with a SIMPLE and EASY recipe that you can set and forget in your slow cooker - hello Apple Cider Pork!
I don't know about you, but healthy, easy, recipes that come together quickly and taste like comfort food are what get me through the doldrums of the January - March months. Eating healthy is a goal for sure, but listening to my cravings for warm, comforting, cozy meals makes cooking in the colder months so much more enjoyable. When it's under 20 degrees outside, a salad just isn't satisfying to me like a steaming hot plate of food that will feel warm in my belly! It's during this time of year that my slow cooker, braiser, and Dutch oven become the kitchen workhorses - the spiralizer, salad spinner, and smoothie blender will have their time when it gets a bit warmer!
This slow cooker apple cider pork was inspired by a sponsored trip that I took to tour a pork farm in Minnesota back in the fall. It was a fun and insightful look into the farm life and all that goes into raising hogs to produce lean and flavorful pork products in the most sustainable and conscientious way possible. I was so encouraged to learn about the commitment these pork producers had to research and innovation so that their animals are well cared-for and the process of raising them becomes more sustainable.
Below are a few photos of my time there, along with several other registered dietitians. We were introduced to new ideas for preparing lean cuts of pork in flavorful, eye-catching ways, had some delicious food, were treated to a cooking and meat fabrication class, and a behind-the-scenes look into the pig barns!
My past experience with cooking pork has been to use pork shoulders/butts for moist-heat cooking methods like stewing, slow cooking, and braising. I've always reserved dry-heat cooking, like roasting, grilling, and stir-frying for the leaner cuts like pork loin roast and pork tenderloin. However, with some experimentation, I've been pleasantly surprised to learn that a pork loin roast or a pork tenderloin cooks beautifully well in the slow cooker. It is extremely flavorful and tender - you will not miss the extra fat from a pork shoulder at all!
With this recipe, you can use either two pork tenderloins or a whole pork loin roast. It makes quite a bit, but I found that it made great leftovers. I even froze individual portions of the leftovers for meals that we had between holiday travels and it was delicious that way as well!
I hope you get the chance to try this Slow Cooker Apple Cider Pork on a cold night this winter - it is such a cozy and comforting (yet healthy!) meal to feed yourself and your loved ones! Please let me know if you try it in the comments below, or tag a photo on Instagram or Twitter with the tag @sweetcayenne5.
Come back later this week to get a recipe for a simple side dish that I LOVE to serve with this pork. In the meantime, check out this other favorite slow cooker recipe - I think you will really enjoy these Shredded Zesty Italian Beef Subs!
- Kosher salt and coarse ground pepper
- One whole 3 pound pork loin roast (or two 1-2 pound pork tenderloins)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 large honeycrisp apples cored and cut into quarters
- 2 whole shallots peeled and cut into quarters
- 3 cups apple cider
- 1 whole bay leaf
- 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme optional
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- Sprinkle all sides of the pork loin roast liberally with salt and pepper.
- Heat a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, and swirl the pan to coat the bottom. Sear the pork roast on all sides (1-2 minutes per side).
- Place the apples and shallots in the bottom of a 5-7 quart slow cooker. Add the seared pork loin roast on top.
- Pour the apple cider into the slow cooker. Add the bay leaf and fresh thyme sprigs.
- Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours until pork is tender and can be easily sliced.
- Before the last 30 minutes of cooking, whisk together the chicken stock and cornstarch to form a slurry. Add this to the slow cooker and cook for an additional 30 minutes. This will thicken up the liquid to form a nice sauce.
- Slice the pork loin roast and serve with apples, shallots and the juices spooned over the top.