My first pork roast recipe- ever. And it's a home run. I apologize for the sports metaphor but I've been sitting at my desk for an hour. And not a single sentence has been birthed. Even after one hot mother of a mug of coffee (and a decaf peppermint green tea that really doesn't count because, well, it's tea), I'm still in a post Sunday fog today, basking in the afterglow of a Sunday afternoon spent with friends. We ate and drank our way through six hours of non-stop conversation. I get all warm and fuzzy just thinking about it. And I'm more than a little tempted to wax poetic about friendship and how we choose our true family and what a head banging blue-in-the-face relief it is to sit at a table with soulful people who wrestle with big questions and hunger for authenticity and integrity while also making you laugh out loud without covering your teeth and feel proud of your mayo-free potato salad.
But I won't. I'll tell you about my first pork roast instead.
I'll say it up front. It took decades to get me here- to ease into a place in my life where I might actually, finally, consider buying a hunk of pork and roasting it. I started off slowly, slyly, trying turkey bacon ten years ago. Then I graduated to the real deal roughly six years ago. Organic Sunday smoked bacon. Nitrate-free, of course. And when my body did not protest and the world as I knew it did not go up in a hellish ball of blistering flames, I decided to move on to the hard stuff. I was ready.
It was finally time to roast a pork loin. And Dear Reader- was I intimidated. You know it. In fact yours truly was almost quaking in her Rocket Dogs. Well, maybe not quaking. More like, shivery-nervous. So I decided two things.
First- that I would use my trusty slow cooker. Simple. Familiar. Not too much to screw up. Second- that I would make a sauce with pomegranate juice and a jar of apricot jam. It just seemed like a good fit.
Pork Roast Recipe with Mushrooms and Brown Sugar Apricot and Pomegranate Sauce
I made this sauce intuitively- starting with a jar of apricot jam. It was delicious- I admit. Balsamic vinegar adds tang and depth.
2 pounds boneless pork loin
Extra virgin olive oil, as needed
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 large sweet onion, sliced
2 cups sliced Baby Bella mushrooms
A sprig of fresh rosemary
For the sauce:
1 8-oz. jar apricot jam- no sugar style
1 1/2 cups unsweetened pomegranate juice
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup brandy or wine, optional
4-6 tablespoons organic light brown sugar, or honey, to taste
2 teaspoons dried Italian Herbs (A blend of oregano, thyme, sage, rosemary)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon mild curry
Turn on your slow cooker to low.
Place the pork loin into the slow cooker. Drizzle with a little olive oil and season with sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Throw in the garlic, onions and mushrooms. Toss in a sprig of rosemary.
Make your sauce:
Combine the apricot jam, pomegranate juice and balsamic vinegar. Stir in the brown sugar, herbs and spices, till smooth. Pour over the pork loin and mushrooms.
Cover and cook for about five hours. Test the internal temperature with a meat thermometer. It should read 145 degrees F. To be honest, I let the temperature get up to 160 degrees F. I wanted my first pork roast to be well done.
Take the roast out of the cooker, tent with a piece of foil, and allow it to rest for ten minutes.
Remove the sprig of rosemary and pour the sauce and mushrooms into a medium sauce pan; keep warm until serving. If the sauce is thin, thicken it with a slurry of tapioca or arrowroot (dissolve 1 tablespoon of either starch in two tablespoons cool water or liquid; then add it to the heated sauce; whisk until thickened).
We enjoyed this with Champagne Vinegar Potato Salad- but this fruity mushroom sauce would be fab on a bed of hot cooked rice. Quinoa pilaf would also be delicious.
Thanks to Caroline Wright at Martha Stewart: Dinner Tonight for featuring this recipe on Slow-Cooker Week: Entertaining.