A box filled with fresh fruit and vegetables on display

Slow Cooker Nailed It!

There’s just something about the bountiful tastes of autumn and slow cookers that go together.

A box filled with fresh fruit and vegetables on display

Recently, I’ve been doing a lot of testing in my kitchen and while some results have been less than palatable (let me make all the mistakes so you won’t have to), other attempts have turned out even better than I could have dreamed. I’m anxious to share these recipes with you and even more anxious to hear how they turn out for you.

One thing is for certain: You can make these meals at home for a fraction of the cost of eating out—and I am confident that your fare will taste better, too.

If you’re keeping track of the cost of meat these day, you’re probably aware that pork remains much cheaper than beef. 

meat

I just bought 7.5 lbs. of pork sirloin tip roast (two roasts) for a total of $15.64. Seriously. It’s a cut that is very low in fat, which makes it ideal for long and slow cooking. Here’s what I did with it.

A plate of food, with Pork and Sauce

Apple Cider Pork Roast

  • 1 (4 pound) boneless pork shoulder roast
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 shallots, sliced
  • 1 rib celery, chopped
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 1/2 cups apple cider
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper, or more to taste (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme (optional)
  1. Season the roast with salt and black pepper on all sides. Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat on the stovetop. Sear the roast on all sides in the hot oil until browned, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer pork to the slow cooker.
  2. Reduce stovetop temperature to medium. Add the sliced shallots and chopped celery to the skillet and cook about 3 to 4 minutes. Pour the apple cider vinegar into the skillet with the vegetables and cook, scraping up any browned bits, until the liquid is nearly evaporated, about 4 to 5 minutes.
  3. Next, pour this shallot mixture over the roast in the slow cooker. Add apple cider, garlic cloves, and bay leaf. Cover, set slow cooker to Low, and cook until fork-tender but not falling apart, about 6 to 8 hours. Turn the roast over every 1 to 2 hours if you are home. Remove the roast to a plate and cover loosely with foil.
  4. Pour remaining liquid from the slow cooker through a fine mesh strainer into a large saucepan and place it over high heat. Discard the bay leaf and other solids. Bring sauce mixture to a boil, decrease heat to medium and cook, skimming fat from the top, until reduced to about one-quarter of the original volume or about 10 minutes.
  5. Remove sauce from heat and stir in Dijon mustard and cayenne pepper if you intend to use that. Slowly whisk in cold butter until incorporated. Sprinkle in fresh herbs and season with salt and black pepper to taste.
  6. Cut pork into 1/4-thick slices and serve with sauce poured over the top. Servings: 6 to 8.

If one thing is plentiful this time of year, it’s apples. You can make this homemade apple sauce from any apples available, adjusting the sugar according to whether yours are tart or more sweet apples.

A bowl of food on a table, with Slow cooker and Apple sauce

Harvest Apple Sauce

8 apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced

1/2 cup water

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

  1. Combine the apples and water in a slow cooker; cook on Low for 6 to 8 hours. Stir in the brown sugar and pumpkin pie spice; continue cooking an additional 30 minutes. Servings: 8

A bowl of food on a plate, with Slow cooker and Black pepper

Classic Cream Potato Soup

  • 6 slices bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 4 1/2 cups homemade (or 2-10.5 ounce cans condensed) chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 5 large potatoes, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white (or black) pepper
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups half-and-half cream
  • 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
  1. Place bacon and onion in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium-high heat until bacon is evenly brown and onions are soft. Drain off excess bacon fat. Transfer the bacon and onion to the slow cooker. Stir in the chicken broth, water, potatoes, salt, and ground pepper. Cover, and cook on Low 6 to 7 hours, stirring occasionally.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and half-and-half. Stir into the soup along with the evaporated milk. Cover, and cook another 30 minutes before serving. Servings: 6 to 8.

Question: Do you have a slow cooker? What have you been stirring up in it this fall?

rack of Costco rotisserie chickens
A piece of cake sitting on top of a table
chicken with homemade teriyaki sauce
Iced coffee in a tall glass
apple pie in cast iron skillet
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11 replies
  1. Josie says:

    Well I’m with crabbyoldlady. Most meats cooked in my slow cooker are a bit dry, even in liquid. However, that does not stop me from cooking chicken in it for use in other recipes :0} I must say I can hardly wait to try the potato soup recipe. Didn’t realize how hungry I was for it until I read the recipe. PS. How do you keep potato’s from turning dark after cooking. I roasted a chicken recently in my crock pot and was most disappointed with the looks for the potato’s.

    Reply
  2. Mary says:

    I have long been a fan of slow cookers. I soak beans overnight in mine (no heat), change the water in the morning, add salt and turn on the heat. No worries about leaving the house. Depending on the type of bean (garbanzo beans for hummus don’t take as long as black or red beans) I have delicious, ready to eat beans in a few hours for a fraction of the cost of canned. Bonus: most of the beans sold dry in bulk are organic!

    Reply
  3. crabbyoldlady says:

    I have never really been happy with any meat I have done in the slow cooker, and I have tried many different types of things. It always seems to dry out, which seems strange when it’s submerged in liquid, but dry it is. Something like applesauce takes only a few minutes on the stove, why bother taking the machine out? I’d love to love my slowcooker……It is a good one BTW

    Reply
    • Mary Hunt says:

      Applesauce … I would never leave the house while applesauce is on the stovetop. It needs to be cooked slowly, IMHO, so that would take at least an hour. By my slowcooker? No problem leaving. And no babysitting. You should try this pork recipe. I think you would forgive your slow cooker and be thrilled to have a tasty, moist meat result.

      Reply
      • Gehugh says:

        Mary, do you figure the 6-8 servings on the pork roast recipe taking in account to a fair amount of shrinkage? Shoulder roasts (your recipe) should be cooked differently than sirloin tip rossts (your picture).

  4. Ann says:

    Applesauce really does not need any sugar (and never 3/4 of a cup! that’s like making candy). I make applesauce all the time in my slow cooker, and I never add sugar. I’ve used just about every type of apple or apple mix. I would add a tablespoon of lemon juice to the water as you place the cut apples into it, so they don’t turn brown. It always comes out wonderful.

    I also make pear sauce when I have 6-8 soft pears. That does taste better with 2 tablespoons or so of sugar or honey, plus a teaspoon each of cinnamon and ginger. So delicious.

    Reply
      • Kathy says:

        I make applesauce in my slow cooker and it is the easiest way and mine tastes just like homemade apple pie instead of apple sauce which is why I normally like the chunky applesauce over the smoother type. All I do is wash granny smith apples with a few Macintosh apples then I cut the apples up leaving the skin on and I put it in the crock pot with only about 1 tablespoon of water that I sprinkle over the apples as it makes its own juice and does not need the water then I add 1 tablespoon of butter with a sprinkle of cinnamon but not a lot just cinnamon no other spices it cooks down and when you taste it just like apple pie without the crust and I use slender instead of sugar but only a little bit because I like it tarty. I use splenda because I have been off sugar for 10 yrs. When I had a stroke and started to eat healthy. And because the skins cook down nicely and it makes it more nutritious, and the house smells wonderful as it cooks and as you said you can leave it and you don’t have to babysit it.

  5. Pam says:

    The recipes sound delicious – thank you for sharing! Could you give an approximate amount for the “5 large potatoes, diced” in the Classic Cream Potato Soup recipe? We grow our own potatoes and some are huge! Thank you.

    Reply
    • Mary Hunt says:

      Well … I consider a Russet baking potato large. The ones I used were 4 to 5 inches in length. Does that help? Just use your best judgment.

      Reply

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