Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Slow Cooker Maple and Brown Sugar Pork Tenderloin


I have always been a fan of the slow cooker.  I love that you can add a bunch of ingredients to a big ol' pot, turn it on and walk away.  In a matter of hours you have a delicious and flavorful meal that required very little effort.  More times that not I use my slow cooker throughout the week.  This allows me to have a tasty meal ready for my family whenever we walk through the door at the end of the day.  You really can't beat that can you?  No racing around the kitchen at 5:30 and more time with my family.  It's a win win.

Second to chicken, pork tenderloin is probably one of my favorite meats to cook.  I don't use it as much as I'd like but each time I have it I'm reminded just how much I love it.  It takes on the flavors of whatever it's marinated it and it penetrates the meat.  You not only taste the flavor of the marinade on the outside of the meat but throughout as well.  Cooking it in the slow cooker only intensifies the flavor penetration creating a very tender and flavorful meat.

I think this is one of my new favorite recipes.  It requires very little preparation and it's bursting with flavor.  I love balsamic vinegar; it's tangy, thick and sweet and adds so much flavor.  I think it's one of my many addictions!  The balsamic combined with the mustard, onions, sticky maple syrup, sweet brown sugar, thick honey, and herbs provides the ultimate of marinades that penetrates throughout the meat.  This marinade not only provides tons of flavor but allows the meat to cook slowly and keeping it tender where it literally falls apart at the touch. 
This pork tenderloin is incredibly tender and moist.  I love the meat alone, but the onions are quite amazing too.  They are tender and soaked in that sweet and tangy goodness and they add another layer of texture to this meal.  The gravy, isn't a "normal" gravy, it's a basic gravy that is thickened by leaving some of the onions in the cooking liquid.  The liquid, along with the onions are pureed to provide a slightly thick gravy that has a depth of flavor.  It coats the tenderloin beautifully and compliments mashed potatoes like nobodies business.  This is a meal that is perfect for those busy weeknight since it's practically ready when you walk through the door, but it's also go those intense and bold flavors that are impressive enough for guests.

Slow Cooker Maple and Brown Sugar Pork Tenderloin
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Ingredients:

2 lbs pork tenderloin (either one 2 pound pieces or two 1 pound pieces)
2 Medium sweet onions cut in quarters
2 Cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp maple syrup
4 1/2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp honey
2 1/2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 Tsp dried thyme
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 Cup chicken or beef stock

Directions:

Wash and trim the pork and pat dry.  Season with salt and pepper and place in the slow cooker.  Evenly sprinkle the minced garlic over the pork loin(s).

In a small bowl combine mustard, honey, brown sugar, vinegar, thyme and maple syrup and whisk together.  Pour the mixture over the pork loin and turn to coat.  Pour the stock over the broth.  Place the lid on the slow cooker and turn on low for 7-9 hours or high for 3 1/2-4 1/2 hours.

Remove pork from slow cooker and transfer to plate or platter, cover with foil and set aside.  Remove a few spoonful's of the cooked onions to the platter as well.  Using an immersion blender, blend the juice and onions in the slow cooker.  This will provide you with a creamy gravy to spoon over your tenderloin and mashed potatoes (if serving).

Recipe source: adapted from Six Sisters Stuff and Joelen's Culinary Adventures, who adapted it from Southernfood.about.com
  

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