There are times when a dish releases aromas that make you dream of dining at a fine restaurant, but when you actually take the first bite, your dreams disappear in a disappointing “poof”. Let me assure you that this is not one of those times. From the moment that I combined the pork chops, cranberries, leeks, rosemary and vermouth in the slow cooker, this recipe made promises of savory goodness. And it didn’t disappoint.
I have a soft spot for dry vermouth, as it is my mum’s drink of choice. When I say that, I don’t mean that she likes to mix it in martinis. Rather, I mean that she drinks it…straight, like someone might sip on whiskey. Except she always adds a stuffed green olive or two. When I was a kid, I always asked for a nibble of that boozy soaked olive when she finished her drink.
So, when that distinctive vermouth-y scent emanated from the slow cooker, an overwhelming feeling of comfort took over me. There’s just a quarter of a cup used in the recipe, which is just enough to add a layer of flavor without making the dish boozy. It’s the perfect foil for the tart cranberries and mellow leeks.
If you haven’t cooked with leeks before, please don’t be intimidated. They make look a little perplexing, but they’re a cinch to clean and cut. If you’re not sure how to tackle them, refer to my post on How to: Prepare a Leek for step-by-step instructions.
When I post slow cooker recipes, typically I receive emails and comments, asking whether it’s necessary to brown the meat and sauté the vegetables before placing them in the slow cooker. It’s not absolutely necessary – the veggies and meat will still cook through – but those few extras minutes of prep will add an extra layer of flavor to your dish. Well worth it, in my opinion.
Serve this up with some roasted potatoes and an extra vegetable for a satisfying, healthy meal.
Other healthy slow cooker recipes:
Cookin’ Canuck’s Slow Cooker Chipotle Lentil Soup with Avocado
Cookin’ Canuck’s Slow Cooker Hoisin Chicken
Well Plated’s Slow Cooker Yogurt Chicken Shawarma
Ambitious Kitchen’s Black Bean, Quinoa & Chicken Tortilla Soup
Healthy Slow Cooking’s Butternut Squash & Kale Lo Mein
Slow Cooker Pork Chops with Cranberries & Leeks
- 1 1/4 pounds bone-in pork chops 1/2-inch thick
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
- 2 teaspoons olive oil divided
- 2 leeks white parts only, cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced (see How to: Prepare a Leek)
- 1 1/4 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
- 1/4 cup dry vermouth
- 1/4 cup chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
- Season both sides of the pork chops with salt and pepper. Heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a large nonstick skillet. Add the pork chops and brown, 2 minutes per side. Transfer to t0 a plate.
- Turn the heat to medium and heat the remaining 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Add the leeks and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Transfer to the slow cooker. Place the pork chops on top of the leeks and pour any accumulated juices over top.
- To the slow cooker, add the cranberries and rosemary. In a small bowl, whisk together the vermouth, broth and maple syrup. Pour into the slow cooker.
- Cook on LOW for approximately 6 hours, or until the pork chops are cooked through. Pop any whole cranberries with the back of a spoon.
- Serve the pork chops with the leek and cranberry mixture and some of the liquid over top.
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