Real Crock Pot Comfort: Autumn Harvest Pork
Why is it that so many things typically associated with fall foods start with "p," like pumpkins, pies, pork, and crock pots? All of these things say "comfort food" to me. According to scientists, the ability of these foods to ease moods is real; the shortened days, decreased light levels, and attendant activity levels of fall trigger changes in a typical person's brain chemistry that include lower serotonin production and those foods tend to be carbohydrate-rich. Foods that are high in carbohydrates boost serotonin, so, it is thought, they have a calming, soothing affect on the body and mind. And foods rich in protein, like pork, provide much-needed energy. So one could conceivably say that it's good for you to down all the pumpkin pie you want this time of year!
Discussions around the Mom it Forward dinner table have definitely borne that out, as year after year, crock pot recipes with many variations of those ingredients are exchanged. Last year, these were the recipes of choice, along with these. Let me add one that I've made and enjoyed recently, primarily because of it's ease of preparation, sweet undertones, and serotonin-boosting ingredients.
Autumn Harvest Pork Recipe
- 1 cup cider or apple juice
- 1.5 - 2 lb. pork loin roast
- Kosher salt
- Freshly-ground pepper
- 2 large apples, Granny Smith or other tart variety, peeled and cubed
- 1 1/2 whole butternut squash, peeled and cubed
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
- 1/4 tsp. dried sage
Heat cider in deep skillet on medium-high heat. Sear pork loin on all sides in cider. Sprinkle meat with salt and pepper on all sides and place in the crock pot, along with juices. Cook on low for 5-6 hours.
Combine apples and squash in a large bowl. Sprinkle with brown sugar and herbs, stirring to coat well. One or two hours before roast is done, arrange the squash and apples around the pork loin. Continue to cook on low for the remainder of time and until squash/apples are the desired tenderness. Remove pork from the crock pot, cover with foil, and let stand 10-15 minutes before serving.
When I made this recipe, which was passed on to me by my friend Shawna, who got it from her friend Brittany, I found that it needed much more liquid than the recipe mentioned, so I added water and, since I ran out of apple juice, fruit punch from my kids' school lunch supply. It turned out great.
What are some of your favorite crock pot meals?
Photo courtesy of Flickr.