I had the adventure of my life on Thursday. As most Thursdays go, it was right after Wednesday, but not quite Friday. And for some reason, I thought it was a good day to consider making dinner in a crock pot. Mostly because the handsome husband, also known as the better cook, gets home right when dinner should be consumed instead of prepared. And so began the crock pot adventure.
I searched the trusty Google network for "pork crock pot recipe" and this seemingly straightforward recipe came up. I had all the ingredients; how hard could it be?
1. Place onions, carrots, and potatoes in a medium sized bowl.
I chopped the potatoes. I sliced the carrots. And as I cut into the onion, I found a lovely mess of growth and mush on the top. I would love for the onions in our garden to grow, but I kind of prefer the ones in my kitchen to maintain sterility. You know, for proper consumption. So I chopped off the top and technically only got three-quarters of an onion in there. But I think that still counts.
2. Sprinkle with olive oil, Parmesan, half of the rosemary, and garlic. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Olive oil, check. Parmesan, who cares. Rosemary, we grow. Garlic, was the last thing I wanted to actually cut up. I forgot to mention: I was heading to work soon and didn't want my students to creatively consider my false fear of vampires or something. And because I was supposed to add salt and pepper anyways, I thought garlic salt would work for now. So far, so good.
3. Toss to coat all vegetables well.
But when they say"toss," I think they mean to keep it in the bowl. Not to accidentally elbow the bowl off the counter and onto the kitchen floor. Because when you do that, it's like getting sent back to Start in Candyland. Except you don't have any more cards to move forward again, because those were the only ingredients you had. Oops.
4. Place coated vegetables in the Crock-Pot slow cooker.
However, as a microbiologist, I'll tell you that cooking germs kills them. Guess who scooped up as much of those veggies as quick as she could and put them back into the bowl? Yup. This girl. Right here. Bring it on, microbes.
5. Combine parsley, onion powder, garlic powder, remaining rosemary and seasoned salt in a small bowl to create the rub.
Once I finished cleaning up the massive oil spill in my kitchen, it was time to hunt down the handsome husband's spices, an indicator that my previous claim of him being the better cook is accurate. And when I found those new spices, they were just that: new, unopened, and I stood there stumped at how I was supposed to get that tight little plastic lid off. I opted for old stashes of spices and substitutes (read: I used garlic salt for garlic powder, again). Except we don't have a substitute or old stash of onion powder. I reached for the new jar, prepared to use all my prime years of strength to open that little thing. Turns out, it had already been opened. POOF. Remember how I didn't want to smell like weird ingredients at work? Too bad, because now I had onion powder up and down and inside my shirt.
6. Rub pork tenderloin with seasonings.
It's okay. I have other shirts. And spray deodorant. Which I used heavily to hide the remnants of the vegetable that just so happens to smell most like body odor. Hooray! On to the pork. The pork? Where's the pork? Ah, still in the freezer. A brick of solidified meat. Just where I left it when I forgot to thaw it out.
7. Add vegetable oil to a skillet over high heat. Oil is hot enough once it starts to ripple. Add pork tenderloin and sear for 1 to 2 minutes per side.
Hey, maybe this searing thing will thaw it out.
8. Keep the pan hot while you place seared tenderloin over top vegetables in the Crock-Pot® slow cooker.
Nope. Didn't work. But I am putting this thing into a slow cooker, right?
9. Pour beef broth in hot skillet to deglaze, scraping up any brown bits. Pour juice in the Crock-Pot® slow cooker.
So I put the pork on top of those lovely previously-on-the-floor veggies. And dumped the rest of the rub on top. And added a lot more than a quarter of a cup of broth, because maybe that will somehow help it thaw.
10. Cover; cook on High for 3 hours and 30 minutes or on Low for 5 hours, or until pork tenderloin is cooked through and the vegetables are softened to your liking.
And I set it for 6 hours. Because my pork was still frozen. And frozen pork is hard to cook. And pork has the most microbiological concerns when it comes to parasites. Great.
11. Once done cooking, place pork on a serving platter and let sit (covered) for 10 minutes before cutting.
I ran out the door, still smelling like onions, having not even eaten a lunch, and got to my class three minutes late. A student pointed out the bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips in my back pocket, my faux lunch and de-stresser. I don't remember responding, just feeling slightly more lucky that the observation prevented me from sitting on them and melting my last reserve of sanity. Frazzled, and worried about my crock pot experiment, I taught for three hours about the kinetics of enzyme rates. I'm pretty sure I missed a couple things I was supposed to say. I'm also pretty sure they survived and will still be successful people later in life.
After teaching my class, I worked for another hour and a half. Then I met the handsome husband, also known as the better cook, and on our way home I let him know about the disaster that was our kitchen, and the pending disaster that was potentially our dinner. Like a wonderful handsome husband, he took it with a laugh and made me feel better. We prepared ourselves for the big reveal.
We opened the front door. First thing I noticed was that my house wasn't on fire, as I had concerns about my ability to utilize the slow cooker properly. Second thing I noticed was a beautiful and delicious smell coming from the kitchen. Whaaaaat? Did I do that? Handsome husband walked over and opened up the crock pot lid to find a wonderful boiling mass of veggies with a perfectly tender 1.89 lb hunk of pork on top, still covered in its proper seasonings. Good grief, I think I did it.
12. Slice and serve with vegetables from Crock-Pot slow cooker.
Things you should take away from this story:
- know your microbes
- pay attention
- brute strength is not always the answer
- God is good
- and so is slow cooker pork
My mom tells people I knew how to cook pancakes on my own by the time I was seven. What she doesn't tell people is that pancakes were the only food I could make for at least five years after that. But it looks like twenty-two years and a marriage down the road, I at least got that darn crock pot thing down.
Here's to low maintenance meals, and a bag of chocolate chips on hand if it ever goes wrong.