Maybe it's because we started off the year with a big snowstorm and frigid temperatures, but it seems like my "new slow cooker recipe" item isn't going to be much of a challenge.
My favorite trashy reality TV show premieres this week, and the first part, improbably titled "The Bachelor: Countdown to Juan-Pablo" aired last night. The second part, where the crazy really starts to hit us full-tilt-boogie, airs tonight.
I'm not the only intelligent, witty, erudite person who enjoys a good trainwreck. Several friends were coming over to watch, and we decided that we'd celebrate by making a holiday meal. Because it might not be a national holiday right now, but I'm sure it's just a matter of time before someone starts a petition over at whitehouse.gov or something.
David is a real pro at making prime rib, and he's got a bevy of holiday side dishes, including corn casserole, green bean casserole, and the most incredible of all--bourbon sweet potatoes with candied pecans. So, he was doing all of that.
I, on the other hand, was making nothing. Then we did a head count, and realized that David's prime rib might only just feed everyone. So, perhaps we needed another protein?
The only problem is that the prime rib needs to go in the oven at a really low temperature for a really long time. Meaning that our options were to grill something, or to use the crockpot.
So, I set about to make my second of the three required new (to me) slow cooker recipes. This time, it was a maple glazed pork roast.
David tied the roast for me, and I salted and peppered it. Then I browned it on all sides, in a little vegetable oil.
I minced an onion (in the food processor to make it super duper easy), and then in the same pan I used for the roast, I sauteed the onion, until it was soft, with a mixture of spices--cayenne, cinnamon and cloves. Then, I added a cup of maple syrup and a half cup of low sodium organic chicken stock, and scraped up all of the brown bits in the pan. That whole mixture went over the pork roast in the slow cooker, and I set it to cook on the low setting for four hours.
Here's the problem, though. Four hours is really, really too much time for this roast. At three and a half hours, I checked it and got a reading of 160 degrees--and the guests hadn't even arrived, yet.
After you take the roast out to rest, you're supposed to take the braising liquid out of the slow cooker, and boil it down to a cup and a quarter, or so. That doesn't happen quickly, by the way. It took forever.
But, aside from being overcooked, it tasted pretty good--mostly because of the glaze. This is a second recipe from the America's Test Kitchen Slow Cooker Revolution cookbook. So far, it's the Christmas present that I've used the most. And, as a result, I'm 2/3 of the way through my (not very ambitious) slow cooker item!.