Thursday, March 3, 2016

Slow Cooked Balsamic Brown Sugar Pork Loin

Time for a fun fact about me: I grew up on a pork farm. And somehow, despite the occasional swiney fragrance on the wind and spending Saturdays scraping out hog barns (yes- it's as gross as it sounds), I still like pork.

However, I've noticed a theme when it comes to pork: people seem to think it's completely acceptable to serve pork tough, dry, and flavorless.

Why?! This is the same animal that gives a bacon, people! Pork deserves better treatment.

There are two cooking methods that I feel really elevate pork to juicy, succulent and flavorful. Your first option is just to brine whatever pork cut you're working with. If you haven't brined a pork chop before slapping it on the grill, you haven't lived, my friend. There are tons of brine recipes out there, but basically you're looking for salt+sugar+liquid.

But this post isn't about brining. This post is about your second pork option: slow cooking. I absolutely love a good slow cooked pulled pork, and recently, my favorite cut of pork to toss in ol' Sally the Slow Cooker has been the loin.

 Slow Cooked Balsamic Brown Sugar Pork Loin

  • 3-5 pound whole Pork Tenderloin
  • 3 TB brown sugar
  • 2 TB soy sauce
  • 3 TB good quality balsamic vinegar 
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp mustard powder 
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper
  • 1 cup chicken broth
Pat pork dry and season lightly with salt. Heat (medium/high) a large cast iron/non-stick skillet with 2 TB olive oil (and 1 TB bacon grease if you have it) and brown the pork loin on all sides, 1-2 minutes per side. 

Remove pork from skillet and place in slow cooker. Season with spices, then add on brown sugar- patting gently into the loin. Drizzle soy sauce and balsamic vinegar over the top and add in chicken broth to the bottom of the slow cooker. 

Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours. 

At this point, you can slice it and serve, or whip up a quick sauce! I always like an applesauce/mustard sauce (1 cup applesauce + 3 TB Dijon + 1 TB maple syrup, adjusting to taste) or you can boost the balsamic flavor here by reducing down a 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar until it begins to get thick and syrupy. 

(Leftovers are fabulous on a bun with a bit of BBQ sauce.)

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