Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Slow Cooker Week: Pork Loin with Cranberries and Orange

Who loves using their slow cooker?  I've said it before, the slow cooker is one of my best friends in the kitchen.  It can cook a variety of foods: soups, stews, roasts, desserts, appetizers, the list just goes on.  Even better, it takes food, cooks it to perfection and has a hot and delicious meal waiting on you when you get home.

I talk to several people, a lot of them being working moms, and it seems like the biggest issue they have with cooking is the time it takes to get a decent meal on the table for their family once they get home from work.  I understand, I've been there.  It's hard fighting the rush hour traffic, getting home and cooking as well as spending quality time with the family.  While there are meals that take very little time to assemble, I believe the slow cooker is another tool to utilize to get a delicious and healthy meal on the table with very little work once you walk through the door.  So in honor of the slow cooker and the burden it takes of us on those busy nights I present you with the second recipe of slow cooker week.

The combination of cranberries and orange have always been a favorite of mine.  Typically I enjoy those flavor combinations in baked goods, but when I saw this recipe in ATK's Slow Cooker Revolution it went on the menu immediately.  I've cooked different savory recipes that include oranges and cranberries, but never a recipe that included them together.
To say we liked this meal would be an understatement.  The combination of the cranberries and oranges came together wonderfully.  The addition of the cinnamon added a little bit of unique spice without overpowering the rest of the flavors.  The seared pork loin was juicy and moist and had a wonderful texture, slightly crispy on the outside and perfectly tender on the inside.
We enjoyed this pork loin with homemade rolls, roasted brussel sprouts and garlic mashed potatoes.  But it will go well with a variety of sides; a green salad, roasted asparagus, baby potatoes tossed in a little butter and salt and pepper.  Just keep everything simple and you'll have a delicious, no-fuss meal the entire family will enjoy.

Pork Loin with Cranberries and Orange
Ingredients:

1 (4 1/2-5 lb) boneless pork loin, trimmed and tied in one inch intervals
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (14 oz) can whole berry cranberry sauce
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 Cup dried cranberries
1/2 Cup orange juice
Zest of one orange
1/8 Tsp ground cinnamon

Directions:

Remove the pork tenderloin from the packaging and pat dry with a paper towel.  Season with salt and pepper.  Place oil in a 12-inch skillet and place over medium-high heat.  Once the oil is lighting smoking, place the pork in the hot oil and brown well on all sides, about 7-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine cranberry sauce, cranberries, orange juice, orange zest, and cinnamon and stir to combine.  Pour the mixture in the slow cooker and nestle the browned pork loin in the mixture.  Place the lid on the slow cooker and turn on to low.  Cook until the pork is tender and the internal temperature registers 140-145, about 4 hours.

Transfer the pork to a cutting board and tent with a piece of foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes.  Allow the cranberry braise to set for 5 minutes, skim the fat from the surface and discard.  Transfer the braising liquid to a sauce pan and simmer until reduced to about 2 cups, approximately 12 minutes.  Taste, and adjust seasonings if needed.

Remove the twine from the pork.  Slice into 1/2 inch thick slices and arrange on the serving platter.  Spoon 1 cup of sauce over the pork loin, and serve the remaining sauce with the pork.

Recipe source: America's Test Kitchen; Slow Cooker Revolution

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