Pork with Brandied Cherries

pictured here with roasted sweet potatoes

Many cultures eat pork for the new year good luck. I grew up with the idea of pork and sauerkraut, but I’ve never been a big fan of sauerkraut. When I found this recipe in a Cooking Light magazine years ago, it became a staple for me–not only for new year, but for an easy, elegant meal.

When I first moved into my house, I had lots of friends coming over to help me get everything set up. It was July, so it was all the degrees. I wanted to make people something yummy for helping me. But it was 103 degrees outside, and the original version of this recipe called for baking the pork for 2 hours in an oven. Nope! So, I decided to try a slow cooker version, and it turned out perfectly! That’s the version you see above. But I’ll also give the directions for the oven version, which is suited to cold winter days when running the oven adds that extra little bit of warm to a chilly house.

The first step should be completed at least 2 hours before you turn on the stove or the slow cooker. I’ve been known to soak the cherries at least overnight. You need to take 1/2 cup dried tart cherries, which I usually find in bulk store, or in years when there’s not a pandemic and I get to go to Michigan, at a store there that sells Michigan cherry themed items. Specialty cherries are Not Required, of course, but they do add a fancy touch! Put the cherries into a bowl and add 1/2 cup of brandy. I usually use a small prep bowl with a lid, in case it gets knocked over.

the cherries in this picture soaked about a day. Also pictured is chicken broth, which will be used in a later step.

When the cherries are ready, get out the pork loin, about a 2 lb boneless one. Sprinkled dried mustard on all the sides of it, as well as some salt and pepper. If baking in the oven, I use a dutch oven for this step, because I’ll then add the rest of the ingredients and put the lidded pot into the oven. If doing the slow cooker version, I usually use a large skillet to brown all the sides of the meat.

brown the meat on all sides

While the meat is browning, chop an onion. Then, take the pork out of the pan. Add a little olive oil, and saute with about 3 cloves of chopped garlic until the onions are softened. This may take 5-10 minutes.

chop a medium-medium large onion

Add a cup of chicken broth. I preferred dried sodium free chicken broth that I reconstitute, as I don’t like how salty most prepared chicken broths are. Put the cherries, about a Tablespoon of current or cherry jelly (I usually put cherry), and 1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme. Once it boils, add the pork and a bay leaf.

If baking, put the lid on the dutch oven and bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for about 2 hours or until the meat is tender.

If slow cooking, transfer all ingredients to the slow cooker and heat on low for about 6-8 hours or high for 4-5.

transfer all ingredients to slow cooker

Serve with sweet potatoes and/or green beans.

Pork Loin with Brandied Cherries

original recipe from Cooking Light

1/2 c. dried tart cherries

1/2 c. brandy

1 t. dried mustard

1 t. pepper

1 t. salt

1 c. chopped onion (about one medium-large)

3 chopped garlic cloves

1 c. chicken broth (I suggest sodium free)

1 T. red current or cherry jelly

1/2 t. dried thyme

1 bay leaf

  1. Combine cherries and brandy and let soak for at least 2 hours.
  2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  3. Sprinkle pork evenly with mustard, salt, and pepper. Heat a dutch oven over medium-high heat. Spray with cooking spray. Add pork, turning to brown each side lightly. Remove pork from pan.
  4. Reduce heat to medium. Add a splash of olive oil. Add onion and garlic. Cook 5-10 minutes, or until onions are softened.
  5. Add cherry mixture, broth, jelly, thyme, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Return pork to pan. Cover and bake at 325 degrees for 2 hours. If using slow cooker, transfer all ingredients to slow cooker, and cook on low 6-8 hours or high 4-5.

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