Friday, December 2, 2011

Pork...Slow Cooker Style

I know, I know...we've shared many pork recipes. And we've shared many slow cooker recipes. And we've even shared many pork slow cooker recipes. But when you have a good thing, why stop at just one?

So, let me tell you what recipes I will be sharing today.

I'm not exactly sure what it is about pork that makes it awesome when paired with fruit. But it works. You will often see pork paired with apples or dried fruits (like prunes or apricots). However, this recipe pairs pork with blackberries. Delicious! Also, can I tell you that sage has to be one of my favorite spices! I never cooked with sage before this year. I don't know why...I just didn't. I started to incorporate it into my cooking because my father-in-law planted some sage and I love using fresh herbs. This recipe uses dried sage (instead of fresh), but my love of sage knows no bounds at this point! Dried or fresh, sage is awesome. The combination of the sage, rosemary, and blackberries is so, so good. This dish is both sweet and savory (though not overwhelmingly's just right).

The next recipe is to-die-for. It is for Cuban sandwiches. Do you know how some recipes or ingredients become the "new" thing? You know, the "it" thing. For instance, how many recipes could you find about 10 years ago that called for quinoa? (Answer: next to none) And now, quinoa is everywhere! Well, I swear, I have seen recipes for Cuban sandwiches just about everywhere lately. We went on a family vacation in September and I ordered a Cuban sandwich through room wasn't bad. It definitely had potential. But it was a little dry. However, because of the potential, I felt intrigued to find a better recipe that I could make at home. This, my friends, is it. It is fantastic! The aioli is deliciously addicting and the pork is so flavorful and moist. This is a recipe I will be making A LOT for years to come.

The final recipe is nothing fancy...just good, old fashioned comfort food. It pairs pork with sweet flavors again...but this time, the sweet comes in the form of sweet potatoes rather than fruit. And it's quite easy and calls for very few ingredients. So, it's easy to pull together quickly.

Slow Cooker Blackberry Pork Tenderloin


1 (2 pound) pork tenderloin
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon dried rubbed sage
1 tablespoon crushed dried rosemary, or to taste
1 (16 ounce) jar seedless blackberry jam
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons dry red wine (see notes)
1/2 cup dry red wine (see notes)
2 tablespoons honey (see notes)
1 cup fresh blackberries (see notes)


Season the pork tenderloin on all sides with salt, pepper, sage, and rosemary. Place the tenderloin into a slow cooker, and spoon the blackberry jam, 1/4 cup honey, and 2 tablespoons of red wine over the pork. Set the cooker to low, and cook until very tender, 4-5 hours.

About 15 minutes before serving time, pour 1/2 cup red wine, 2 tablespoons of honey, and the fresh blackberries into a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-low heat, and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly and some of the berries burst, about 15 minutes.

To serve, slice the tenderloin and spoon blackberry-wine sauce over slices.

Source: submitted by leeann3800. You can find it here.

Notes: I used a pork shoulder roast instead of pork tenderloin. I also used a roast that was about 4 lbs. Even though the recipe only calls for 2 lbs. of meat, I doubled the meat, but didn't increase any of the other ingredients. There was no need to increase the other ingredients. There were plenty of spices and enough jam to make plenty of sauce.

I also excluded the red wine. I felt like the blackberry jam provided enough flavor for a sauce and as mentioned above, it created plenty of juice. So, rather than making a separate sauce on the stovetop, I removed the drippings from the slow cooker, put them in a bowl, and simply stirred in the blackberries. Also, since there was already honey in the blackberry jam mixture, I felt no need to add additional honey.

I used frozen blackberries because I really hate using fresh fruit in recipes where the fruit just gets cooked. The beauty of fresh fruit is that it's fresh! When it's cooked, it loses that fresh why not use frozen fruit instead? To be honest, I can NEVER tell the difference between fresh or frozen fruit after it has been cooked. I would rather eat fresh raspberries plain or with a little sugar and cream than cook them. It almost seems like a travesty to take a luscious fresh fruit and then cook it. So, use frozen!

Cuban-Style Pork Sandwiches


1 large onion, cut into wedges
3/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 cup minced fresh parsley
7 garlic cloves, minced and divided
2 tbsp cider vinegar
1 tbsp plus 1 1/2 tsp lemon juice, divided
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground mustard
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 boneless pork shoulder butt roast (3-4 pounds)
1 1/4 cups fat-free mayonnaise
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
10 whole wheat hamburger buns, split
1 1/4 cups (5 oz) shredded reduced-fat Swiss cheese
1 medium onion, thinly sliced and separated into rings
2 whole dill pickles, sliced


Place onion wedges and broth in a 5 quart slow cooker. In a small bowl, combine the parsley, 5 garlic cloves, vinegar, 1 tbsp lemon juice, cumin, mustard, oregano, salt and pepper; rub over pork. Add to slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or until meat is tender.

Remove meat; let stand for 10 minutes before slicing. In another small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, mustard, and remaining garlic and lemon juice; spread over buns. Layer bun bottoms with pork, cheese, sliced onion and pickles; replace tops.

Cook on a panini maker or indoor grill for 2-3 minutes or until buns are browned and cheese is melted.

Serves 10.

Nutrition information: 1 sandwich equals 415 calories, 18 g fat, 90 mg cholesterol, 943 mg sodium, 32 g carbohydrate, 5 g fiber, 33 g protein.

Source: Oct./Nov. 2011 Healthy Cooking magazine (from the editors of Taste of Home). You can find it here.

Notes: I couldn't find fat free mayonnaise--only low fat. If I could have found fat free, I would have SLATHERED my sandwich with the aioli. It was that good. As it was, I restrained myself because of the fat and extra calories.

I also used Swiss cheese slices instead of shredded. That added a few more calories, but it just made my life a little easier. I skipped the raw onions on my sandwich. I would suggest using the cooked onions from the slow cooker on your sandwich if you don't like raw onions on your sandwiches.

Finally, I didn't have time to press the sandwiches with a panini maker (which I don't have anyway). I had planned to press the sandwiches on the stovetop by putting the sandwiches in a large pan, toasting them, pressing them with a smaller pan, flipping them, and toasting until the cheese had melted and the buns were browned and crispy. However, as usually happens with kids, there was some sort of crisis and the pressing didn't really happen. I simply pressed my sandwich, untoasted, by hand and called it good. It was still super tasty. But, if I were pressed for time like that in the future, I would probably toast the buns in a toaster oven first, place the cheese on the bun while the bun was still hot, and then just press them by hand.

Slow Cooker Garlic Pork Roast and Sweet Potatoes


1 boneless pork loin roast (3 1/2 pounds)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
4 cups (1-inch pieces) peeled dark-orange sweet potatoes
1 medium onion, sliced
6 cloves garlic, peeled
1 cup Progresso chicken broth


If pork roast comes in netting or is tied, remove netting or strings. Remove fat from pork. In 10-inch skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Sprinkle salt and pepper over pork. Cook pork in oil about 10 minutes, turning occasionally, until brown on all sides.
In 4- to 5-quart slow cooker, place sweet potatoes, onion and garlic. Place pork on vegetables. Pour broth over pork.
Cover; cook on Low heat setting 8 to 10 hours.


You can use apple juice for the chicken broth.

The flavor of dark-orange sweet potatoes is preferred, but you can use whatever variety you like. Also, after browning the roast, use a small amount of chicken broth to deglaze the pan. Heat the broth in the skillet, and stir to loosen the browned bits of food on the bottom.

Serves 8.

Nutrition information: 1 serving is 410 calories, 17 g fat, 125 mg cholesterol, 510 mg sodium, 18 g carbohydrate, 2 g dietary fiber, 46 g protein.

Source: Betty Crocker website. You can find it here.

Notes: I used white sweet potatoes (not yams) because, frankly, that's what I had on hand. I bought them for another recipe that fell through, so I chose to make this recipe partly because I needed to use up the sweet potatoes.

I also didn't brown the meat because that's just an extra step that I really don't have time for these days! If you have time for it, great. It adds a lovely browned look (basically, it just looks prettier) in addition to a nice caramelized taste to the meat. However, if you don't have the time, the pork will still taste great...I really don't think you'll miss any flavor from skipping this step.


  1. A George Forman grill works in place of a panini press. Those Cuban sandwiches look good. Yum. What did you do for the sides with the blackberry pork roast?

  2. I LOVE slow cooker recipes, Nephi on the other hand says they are gross! He just doesn't know what he's talking about cause they are so much more juicy and tender then cooked in the oven but he said its over cooked because it's so tender! Crazy guy! I can only get away with cooking in the crock pot once a month and it's heaven when I do!

  3. Oh, that kid! He's so persnickedy!

  4. Oh that silly brother. First of all he is wrong and second, a crock pot is a necessity for a busy mom! Sarah, how funny I found and tried that exact blackberry pork recipe. It was good! I skipped the fresh berries they were out of season and expensive. Frozen sounds like a better option! Good thinking!

  5. Sorry! I've been meaning to respond for awhile, but something kept coming up!

    First, I served the blackberry pork roast with a sweet potato casserole.

    Shandie, Nephi is soooo wrong! Slow cookers are the only way to replicate certain types of shredded Mexican meat for tacos, enchiladas, etc. Besides that, slow cookers are awesome for making soup. So easy...and definitely not overcooked.

    You should cook whatever you want in a slow cooker and then do the dishes before Nephi sees them. If he asks you how you prepared it, tell him you made it in the oven! Ha ha!

    And I agree with Laurie. A slow cooker is an absolute necessity for a busy mom. Or for a working woman who has to work long hours.

  6. Nephi is right that it has to be done correctly or it can all end up tasting the same and dry. Next time he's in town, I should make that roast with the garlic cloves and pepperocinis.