Thursday, March 3, 2011

Slow Cooker Meal - Braised Apple Butter Pork

Ever have some type of meat or vegetable that you'd like to throw in the slow cooker but not sure what kind of sauce or ingredients will go with it?  That's how this recipe started out for me.  I found a "family pack" of porkchops on sale for $6.00 and wasn't quite sure what to do with them.

Another snowy evening in northern Wisconsin made me bust out the slow cooker and put on my food creativity hat.  I knew that something sweet would pair perfectly with the pork.  I didn't have enough rasberry jam BUT, I did have an unused jar of Apple Butter.  Hmmm.  I started thinking "Asian cooking" and immediately got to work on what turned out to be a well executed dish!

Prep Time - 5 minutes
Cook Time - 2.5 hours (high) / 5 hours (low)

Braised Apple Butter Pork
- 4 to 6 porkchops
- 1/2 jar of apple butter (I had a 12oz jar and used the whole thing - my recommendation is to use less than that)
- 12 oz. can of chicken or vegetable broth
- 2 TBSP of brown sugar
- 1/2 of medium sweet onion; sliced
- 1 cup of dried or whole cranberries
- 1 sweet apple; diced (do not use a sour apple like Granny Smith, use a sweet one like Gala)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Optional: 1 tsp of chipotle or cayenne pepper (This gives it a nice kick but, add it after if your family doesn't like spicy food. A little goes a long way, trust me!)

Set the slow cooker to your desired temperature.  In the slow cooker combine the apple butter, broth, and brown sugar.  Stir until the sugar is dissolved.  Add the rest of the ingredients to the slow cooker.  Cook on high for 2.5 hours or on low for 5 hours.  My recommendation is to keep an eye on the pork so that it doesn't become too tough.  When the pork has reached the desired temperature (160), remove and let it set. 

Pour the remaining sauce into a separate dish.  You may find that the sauce is too thin for your preference.  If you would like the sauce to be thicker you can add a little corn starch (while over the heat) and stir until it becomes thick. 
The remaining apple butter sauce.

The idea of this dish is to combine all the ingredients together on the plate or in a bowl.  I steamed some white rice then added the sauce and pork over the top.  It pairs perfectly together.

I realize that apple butter might be hard to come by in March.  Typically you can find it in the fall months.  Keep an eye out for some at your local farmer's market though.  You may also be able to purchase some online.  Go to Google Shopping and type Apple Butter.

I really hope that you find comfort in this sweet and potentially spicy dish.  Enjoy!


Tips from Mara: 
Always taste the sauce before cooking.  Add a small amount of the ingredients or seasoning at first.  You can always add more seasoning but you cannot take any out.  Your preference is obviously different than mine.  But ALWAYS add salt and pepper to what ever you cook!

Copyright 2011 Hint of Thyme.  All rights reserved.

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