Slow Cooker Cider-braised Pork Shoulder, with Roasted Brussel Sprouts and Cauliflower

I came up with this dish to use up the last of the cider leftover from our apple butter making.  I’ve also been eating and making a lot of spicy food lately,  and wanted something simpler and more fall-like.  Apple and pork seemed perfect.

I usually brown everything before putting it in the slow cooker – I think it really improves the flavours if you have the time.  If you don’t I wouldn’t hesitate to just dump the ingredients in and go from there – I would reduce the liquid to 1 cup in that case, as you won’t be reducing it and you don’t want pork soup!

I always have the time to brown my ingredients, thanks to my feline wake-up specialists, who ensure I’m up by at least 5:30 am (pictured below).

Our Motto – “Dependable Pre-Dawn Wakeups, Whether You Need Them Or Not.”

You could brown everything the night before, put it in the fridge, and turn on your cooker in the morning – again, just be sure you take the insert out of the fridge as soon as you wake up and let it warm up so you don’t crack your insert in the cooker!

I used up all the mushroom stems from my box of mushrooms in this dish, and saved the caps for other things – I’m always hearing about discarding them, but I love mushrooms too much, and they will be so cooked in this dish they won’t remember they were once “tough and woody.”

Slow Cooker Cider-Braised Pork Shoulder

pork shoulder (whatever will fit in your crock – mine was 1.7 kg/3.75 pounds)
2 tablespoons white wine/apple cider vinegar
2 cups apple cider
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
2 tablespoons apple butter (if you have it, you could use apple sauce)
OR 2 peeled chopped apples (instead of apple butter or in addition to!)
3 roughly chopped onions
8 mushrooms roughly chopped (or a rough equivalent if you’re using stems!)
8 large cloves garlic, crushed under knife blade and roughly chopped
equal parts salt, pepper, thyme

Brown mushrooms in a large frying pan, then add garlic and cook until golden and fragrant.  Dump in crock pot.

Using the same skillet, cook onions (and apples if you are using them) until browned and translucent. Dump in crock pot.

Dry surface of pork and season with salt, thyme and pepper.  Brown very well on all sides  in the same skillet you used for the onions.

Meanwhile, mix togther cider, dijon, and apple butter(if using).

Place roast in cooker, return pan to heat and deglaze with vinegar.

Pour cider mixture into pan and simmer until it is somewhat reduced and all the brown bits are dissolved.

Pour liquid over roast in cooker and cook on low for 8 hours.

And this is what you will end up with:

Though it looks like it, I swear, this pork roast did NOT receive a spray tan!

I’m serving this with brussel sprouts and cauliflower, two of the world’s most maligned, and my most favourite, vegtables (when you roast them they are a whole different beastie than when you boil them!).

Brussel Sprout – like a lil’ baby cabbage or lettuce – how could anyone dislike it!?

I was checking time and temp. online and came across this bit about brussel sprouts, that will make you feel super virtuous and healthy about your dinner, from The Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen, in a post o n How To Roast Brussel Sprouts

“The sulphur compounds have been shown to alter the function of liver enzymes allowing for beneficial metabolism of hormones and other fat-soluble substances that the liver may perceive as toxic. These magical compounds also up-regulate the gene expression of antioxidant compounds in our bodies. Cancer researchers have determined these substances to be so important that they are recommending at least 2 to 3 servings of cruciferous vegetables per week with some suggesting as much as 1 to 2 servings per day (the more per day, the better).”

Roasted Brussel Sprouts and Cauliflower

Bag’o’Sprouts and Veggi-tray section of cauliflower.


brussel sprouts (One bag, 2lbs)
cauliflower (1/3 of a discarded veggie tray weighing 2.5 pounds total – obviously accurate measure is not important here folks!)
3 tablespoons garlic oil/ olive oil/ other cooking oil
salt
pepper

I trimmed the ends of the sprouts and halved them, and trimmed the cauliflower of questionable bits. If I had a head of cauliflower, I’d cut off the florets then chunk up the stalk too, 1/4″ pieces so they roast evenly.  In my experience this is key to roast veg – relatively uniform thickness, for even cooking.

Toss in garlic oil, or plain oil, season with salt and pepper, spread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and roast at 400’F for about 40 minutes, or until the veg are tender with toasty brown bits.  Additional flavour could be added with herbs and spices.

I would be tempted to use some chopped garlic in this recipe as well, but my reading suggests this would result in burnt garlic taste, which is not recommended.  I’ve burnt garlic and still liked it, but, overall, I’d suggest garlic powder if you want the flavour in this recipe!

Yum!

Result:  Yummy!

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