Slow Bourbon

I've been known to enjoy a bit of bourbon in a glass with ice at the end of an evening now and then and some of my favorite cocktails feature it. But I'm also very fond of using it in small amounts in my cooking. This time around, I'm sharing my favorite bourbon-laced slow cooker meal:

That lovely swirl of sauce is enveloping tender chunks of pork and nearly caramelized onions. Now, unlike a lot of bourbon sauces, this one holds off on adding the bourbon until a bit late in the game. I opt to do that because more of the bourbon flavor makes it to the table. And if you aren't looking to have that happen, skip the bourbon entirely! For me, however, an already complex sauce featuring everything from sweetness to tanginess and spiciness to saltiness gets an extra kick from a bit of bourbon in the last few minutes of cooking. Then, I spooned it over hot rice and lightly sautéed asparagus (which is delightfully in season now):

I opted for a picnic roast for this dish (actually, a portion of one — they can be quite generously proportioned!). Trim some, but certainly not all, of the fat as you create bite-sized pieces for the meal. The fat in the dish will work its way into the rest of the sauce and give your final result a fantastic flavor and texture. This dish makes amazing leftovers, but you might find that it's hard to determine that when the slow cooker is licked clean time after time!

Sweet Bourbon Pork

  • ½ tsp. fresh grated ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp. crushed red chili flakes
  • ⅓ c. apple juice
  • 2 T. honey or maple syrup
  • ¼ c. brown sugar
  • ¼ c. ketchup
  • 3 T. apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ c. water
  • ¼ c. soy sauce (choose gluten free tamari if desired)
  • 2 lbs. boneless pork, cut into bite-sized pieces (many options here - I used a picnic roast)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and sliced into thin wedges
  • ¼ c. bourbon (if you'd rather not cook with alcohol, you can use apple juice or water here)
  • 3 T. cornstarch
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Mix the first 10 ingredients (ginger through soy sauce or tamari) in a bowl. Place the pork and onions in a slow cooker and pour the sauce mixture over top. Cover and cook on low 6-7 hours or on high 3 hours.

Combine the bourbon with the cornstarch. Turn the slow cooker up to high. Stir the cornstarch slurry into the sauce. Cover and allow to thicken, stirring occasionally (about 15 minutes). Serve over hot rice.

  • Yields: 4-6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes plus about 7 hours slow cooking time

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