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How Awesome is the Crock Pot?

The Crock Pot is a versatile kitchen tool that allows you to choose your basic level of cooking involvement. The science and experiment based cooking shows like Good Eats and Cook’s Country as well as the Cook’s Illustrated magazine have done some great work in bringing the humble crock pot into a modern context and helping realize more of its potential.

Try this recipe for slow cooked pork chops:

• 2 cups vegetable broth            
• ½ cup salt
• ½ cup light brown sugar
• 2 tbsp black peppercorns, slightly crushed
• 1 pound ice
• 4 (1 to 1 ½ in. thick) bone-in pork chops
• 2 tsp salt
• 3 ounces dried apple slices
• 2 tbsp Olive Oil
• 1 large onion, julienned
• 1 ½ cups chicken broth
• 1 tbsp coarsely ground black pepper
• 1 tsp dried thyme

Combine vegetable broth, ½ cup salt, light brown sugar, and peppercorns in a medium sauce pan. Cook on medium heat until salt and sugar dissolved. Add the ice after removing from heat, Put pork chops into a 2 gallon zip top bag along with brine mixture. Place the bag in a bowl or container and put in the refrigerator overnight.

Remove pork chops-rinse and pat dry. Season with the salt.
Put apples into the crock pot. Heat 1 ½ tbsp olive oil in sauté pan at medium high heat and brown the pork chops on both sides-5 to 6 minutes per side. Place the pork chops ontop of the apples. Add the remaining olive oil and the onions to the pan. Cook the onions till they start to brown and caramelize-3 to 4 minutes.  Add the chicken broth to deglaze the pan. Add the black pepper and a thyme and move to the crock pot. Cook on high for 1 ½ hours. Reduce the heat and cook for another four and ½ hours.

Even though the recipe calls for 4 and ½ hours-start checking them before that -the pork chops should be tender and pulling away from the bone.

To keep with the ease of cooking try the Near East Rice Pilaf, Couscous or Quinoa boxes. Some sautéed Brussels sprouts would be another great addition to the plate.