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