Years ago, I had a recipe for pork tenderloin with cherries and apples that was made in the trusty crock pot. I loved the idea of this dish, but it never quite worked for me. The lean pork tenderloin was very dry after its time in the slow cooker and the dish didn’t have the rich flavor I hoped for. For this recipe, I substituted bone-in pork shoulder for the tenderloin. It is a less expensive cut of meat and perfect for slow cooking. Even though it is more work, I like to brown meat before putting it in the slow cooker. When I took my classes at Kendall College, they talked about the importance of developing flavor by searing the outside of a roast to caramelize it. There are a few other benefits: the meat will have a beautiful dark brown color and you can use the drippings to flavor your sauce.
I made this on a crazy Saturday when the whole family was moving in different directions. It was so nice to come home in the late afternoon and know that dinner was just about ready. The leftovers will get a second life later this week in the form of pulled pork sandwiches (served with sweet potato fries, of course).
Slow cooker pork roast with cherries
- 3 1/2 pound bone-in pork shoulder
- 1 tablespoon oil, grape seed or vegetable
- 1 Onion, sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- Ground Pepper
- ½ cup dried tart cherries
Trim as much of the fat on the outside of the roast as possible. If I were cooking this dish in the oven and serving the next day, I might leave it on, then skim the fat from the sauce before serving. Since I’m serving dinner right from the crock pot, the extra fat will make the sauce greasy. Season meat with salt.
Heat one tablespoon oil over medium high heat in a large pot. Brown meat well, about 5 minutes per side. I set a timer so that I could chop the onion/garlic and prep the rest of the ingredients without worrying if I needed to check the meat. Mix broth, vinegar, mustard, sugar and thyme in a glass measuring cup. Stir to dissolve sugar. Season with salt and pepper.
Once meat is browned, transfer to crock pot. Reduce heat to medium. Add onion and cook for 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic and cook for one more minute. Transfer onions to crock pot. Deglaze the cooking pot by adding broth mixture. Cook for about a minute, scraping the botom of the pot to release any browned bits on the liquid. Pour over meat. Cook in crock pot on low for 8-10 hours. Mine was fall-apart tender after 8 hours, but still moist and delicious at the 10 hour mark. Add 1/2 cup dried cherries during the last 30-60 minutes of cooking. If you put them in at the beginning, they will practically dissolve into the sauce.
If you have leftovers, remove any visible fat from the meat. Cover and refrigerate. Mix shredded meat with barbeque sauce and reheat for an easy pulled pork sandwiches.