Recently I came to the realization that my style of cooking is more “putting pre-made stuff together and heating it up in the oven.” This suits us just fine, particularly since Husband will eat nearly anything and likes good old American food, and I like the idea of braising meat and using fresh herbs and reducing wine in a saute pan but am not quite there yet. Every once in awhile, however, I am suddenly struck with the desire to make something that requires actual cooking skill, just to make sure I still know how.

I suppose I was mostly still craving cranberry sauce from the Non-Cranberry Sauced Thanksgiving of 2011 (okay, okay, so it was just last month), when I pulled my pork sirloin out of the freezer, I decided I was going to need some. I started putting things together in my mind: cranberry sauce would be inexpensive to buy, I had a couple large, juicy oranges, and for whatever reason a lot of pork dishes end up involving dijon and luckily I have some of that, too. So the experiment began.

First, I should openly admit that I really don’t know how to cook pork. I just try different strategies and thus far they’ve all worked pretty well. Also, I am ridiculously lazy, so whenever I can use the crock pot I’m going to. I put the sirloin, still frozen, in the crock pot on high for a few hours and then mixed up my sauce. It’s really easy: whole berry cranberry sauce, fresh squeezed orange juice and pulp, dijon, and then a lot of sugar to counterbalance the tartness of the fruit. Once the pork had reached an internal temperature that made me happy (about 160) I pulled it out, let it rest for a little bit, and then sliced it thin. I put it back into the crock pot, poured the sauce over it, and let it all simmer together for a couple more hours. The beauty of the crock pot is that you can generally leave your food in it for a half hour or three; it won’t make an enormous difference. And since I actually began that dinner way too early and Husband wasn’t close to being home, that came in quite handy. The pork came out incredibly moist and fork tender, infused with the tart cranberry-orange and warm dijon.

I paired it with a homemade rice pilaf — I don’t love the boxed kinds because they have so much sodium, so the fastest option I’ve found that is a notch above plain white is sticking it in the rice cooker with chicken broth rather than water (or better than boullion + water, which is my simmering liquid of choice), some cooked, diced carrots, frozen peas, and seasonings and then letting the cooker do its thing. The other benefit to rice pilaf is that the vegetables are in it, so you can usually just grab some french bread or dinner rolls and call it good.  Unless you like balanced meals, but you have probably determined at this point that I am not that type of person.

This meal has some nice holiday flavors without feeling like leftovers or kitschy. I imagine homemade cranberry sauce would make it beyond incredible, so if you have a great cranberry sauce recipe, please share it! I’d love to give it a try sometime.