#SlowCookerMeals: Apple Cider Pork Roast with Smoked Bacon
October. It always seems to be one of the busiest months of the year to me, perhaps it’s that way for you too. Abundant choices among harvest days, and festivals, farmers markets bursting with the year’s broadest selection, last chance displays from summers harvest, to the changing root crops of the cooler season ahead. The ‘Pick Your Own’ takes us from memories of peaches to crisp, ripe apples, this year producing a seeming bumper crop out at the orchards.
October, for me also marks the sports season followed by the shared table of tailgating, meals that along with the changing color of leaves transpire the seasons from bright colored salads, to a small wood shed off the pitch equipped with power plugs for Slow Cookers later lining long tables with a broad variety of hearty foods for filling a crowd.
My youngest daughter, Alex the athlete, has now graduated, (and now is delighted to play in a recreational Baltimore soccer league.) For me, this marks the first collegiate season I am no longer required to travel, attend, and prepare mass amounts of food twice weekly during the field hockey season. Of course, this then begged the question from friends when declining some fall event invitations if I really ‘had’ to attend the team party in town, or the local game and tailgate, or why we were driving all the way back down to DC for a game the following weekend. Well, maybe it is, or maybe it isn’t, a feeling most teams share after experiencing the intensity of Division 1 team athletics together over a full four years, the agony and the ecstasy, it’s hard to explain, but it’s much like coming together as a family, the family coming back to the table together both in support of the team, and in sharing the meal together.
On the fall food segment sharing foods among the market seasons bounty with friends and family, or, Tailgate meals with the team family, I wish I had been sent today’s Post feature review, the: Hamilton Beach Set n’ Forget 6 Qt. Programmable Slow Cooker four years ago. I hadn’t. However, I was recently sent this Slow Cooker for review. And after using it three times now, though I still wish I had this appliance four years ago, I sure am glad I have it now. One reason: Apple Cider Pork Roast with Smoked Bacon. Now if you scroll up you will notice sliced pork on a serving platter, not Pulled Pork, or Pork Chunks, Sliced Pork.
If you are like me, you may prefer cooking in your enameled cast iron pot, and in this way you can control the desired texture of your food. The Hamilton Beach Set n’ Forget Slow Cooker that comes with a probe enables you to prepare your roasts to the desired temperature, and texture, such as this perfectly cooked roast pork. I’ve also experimented with a roast beef, same results, perfectly cooked. Using the probe and setting the temperature enables you to prepare your food while leaving you free time in the interim like celebrating the Oktoberfest attending harvest days and festivals, shopping at the farmers market, or picking from a bumper crop of crisp, ripe apples out at the orchard. While you are gone, once your meat is cooked, this slow cooker feature automatically clicks to warm.
Finally, the colorful root vegetables each fall inspire my annual preparation of a sort of combined spiced African/Moroccan style stew. Sharing it at the tailgate meant warming it in my other style slow cooker where I worried the entire time about the vegetables becoming too soft, I simply could not control the temperature correctly. Now, using the Set n’ Forget, after sauteing a base of sliced onions, garlic, and ginger in a saute pan then cooking in the spices, I simply tumble my prepped colorful medley of vegetables into the Slow Cooker, stir through the spice mixture, add in a bit of chicken stock and coconut milk, and cook the whole meal on the Program Mode (as opposed to the Probe mode) where in this feature you simply set your desired length of cooking time, thus enabling a ‘just right’ cooked, spiced vegetable stew.
Making recommendations and sharing new products is a serious business, mainly if folks such as you are using their time, and hard earned money to purchase not only a new product, but the food in its later preparation. In my review of the Hamilton Beach Set n’ Forget Slow Cooker, I rank this appliance very high, and am confident in its recommendation for purchase for any home or entertaining use. I would also recommend it for any parent with a four year or otherwise Tailgate trail ahead.
Additional features I value with the product include, the ease of use, directions that are very simple and clear, the side clips are snug on the glass top which is particularly helpful for travel and preventing spills, and the carrying handles, as advertised, are very sturdy. It comes with a spoon which was neither here nor there for me as my main interest was in the function, but you might like it. The product is attractive on a counter or in any buffet setting.
Finally, should this be your next appliance purchase, be sure and try the Apple Cider Pork Roast with Smoked Bacon, 160 F degrees, an easy four hours away from perfection, especially on those busily filled fall October days.
- 3-4 pound Pork Roast
- 6 slices smoked bacon
- 3 tablespoons bacon fat, approximately, rendered from cooking the bacon
- 1- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/8 cup brandy
- 1 1/2 cups apple cider
- 2 onions, halved then cut into half inch slices, white onions or a mix with red onion
- 5-6 medium size crisp red apples, cored, sliced into 1 inch thick slices, approximately
- kosher salt, enough for sprinkling on both sides of pork
- cracked black pepper, enough for sprinkling on both sides of pork
- 2 bay leaves
- 6 or more stems of fresh thyme
- 1 large saute pan, enough to comfortably brown pork roast all around
- Hamilton Beach Set 'n Forget 6 Qt. Programmable Slow Cooker
- In a large size saute pan cook the bacon on low heat to render the fat, approximately five minutes. Season the pork roast with salt and pepper. Remove the half cooked bacon to a plate. Leave around three tablespoons of bacon grease in the saute pan and add about one tablespoon olive oil swirling the grease to evenly coat the bottom of the pan. Place pork roast into the pan, raise the heat temperature to medium and brown the roast all around. Pour the brandy into the pan, if it flames, shake pan until it subsides, turn pork roast over and continue cooking until brandy has cooked down to a mere tablespoon or two then pour in the apple cider, continuing to cook for another four or five minutes, turn off burner. Line the bottom of a Hamilton Beach Slow Cooker with most of the onion slices leaving some to sprinkle over the top of the roast. Remove the browned pork roast from the saute pan and place on top of the onions lining the pot, laying the thickest part of the roast on the right side of the slow cooker. Place the bacon strips all across the top of the pork roast, tuck the apple slices all around, add in the bay leaves, sprinkle over the remaining onion slices. Pour the brandied apple cider over the pork roast and top with the sprigs of fresh thyme. Place the lid onto the slow cooker and snap closed. Plug the probe into the side jack and place the pointy end of the probe through the opening into the thickest part of the roast. Press ON, Press PROBE, Press arrow to LOW, Press 160 degrees, Press ENTER. Enjoy your day. The Slow Cooker will automatically switch to warm once your pork roast is done. When ready to serve, remove bacon, slice pork, arrange onions and cooked apple slices around the roast, serve alongside the cider juices.