Sweet autumnal notes for the palate

I haven’t been as chatty lately. Those darn curtains (but the end is in sight!); and looking ahead in the weather forecast, it suddenly dawned on me that if I want clean windows without frostbitten fingers, it was time to pull the paper towel stockpile out of the basement and get busy. It’s been a Karate-Kid-like existence: Windex on! Windex off! Blind stitch! Blind stitch! Deflect the cat!

A gal needs nourishment to keep up with that pace, I’ll tell you. Which is why I’m so glad to have my slow cooker (polite code for Crock Pot). This past weekend, while scrubbing and stitching, I took time over lunch to start dinner using a recipe I discovered in America’s Test Kitchen’s “Slow Cooker Revolution” cookbook. (Have you got a copy? If you’re remotely busy, or would love to sleep in on a chilly morning and wake up to a hot breakfast already made for you, it’s worth a page-through.) The Maple-Glazed Pork Loin recipe only needed four hours to cook, so I could just throw everything in the pot and get back to my chores for a few hours before roasting up some acorn squash in the oven to go with the main course. At the request of the men in the house, we also cheated with some instant stuffing that came together as we reduced the braising liquid. And voila – a sweet, sumptuous autumnal feast that looked like I had slaved for hours in the kitchen. When really I slaved for hours on the windows instead. And better still: there was enough of the meat and sauce to stash in the freezer and save for another one of those “too busy to cook” days. Try it out!

A sweet treat for hard work!

Maple-Glazed Pork Loin

  • 1 (4.5 – 5-pound) boneless pork loin roast, trimmed and tied at 1-inch intervals
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup low-fat chicken broth

Dry pork with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Brown pork well on all sides, 7 to 10 minutes; transfer to slow cooker.

Heat remaining tablespoon oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion, cinnamon, cloves and cayenne and cook until the onion is softened and lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in maple syrup and broth, scraping up any browned bits; transfer to slow cooker.

Cover and cook until pork is tender and registers 140 to 145 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 4 hours on low.

Transfer pork to cutting board, tent loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest for 10 minutes. Let braising liquid settle for 5 minutes, then remove fat from surface using large spoon. Transfer braising liquid to saucepan and simmer until reduced to 1-1/4 cups, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Remove twine from pork, slice into 1/2-inch thick slices, and arrange on serving platter. Spoon 1 cup sauce over meat and serve with remaining sauce.

(I wasn’t asked by the America’s Test Kitchen folks to review their cookbook. It was bought and paid for by our own household, and this is my own opinion. Completely unsolicited, as it usually is.)

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