Hot Roast Pork Sandwiches on Raisin Bread with Apple Cider Gravy

There's a chill in the air. It went from 80 degrees two days ago, to 48. October has arrived!

And, I had just the thing to tuck into on a chilly fall evening: a boneless, center cut pork roast loin, slow-cooked and served with gravy made from the juices. Yes, please!
Featured in this post:
Gin and Homemade Ginger Ale Cocktails
Potato and Leek Soup
Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower
Roast Pork Sandwiches on Raisin Bread with Apple Cider Gravy

I had taken the roast out of the fridge the night before and lightly scored the layer of fat on top in a criss-cross pattern with the tip of my chef's knife. Then, I made a mix of Herbes de Provence, cinnamon, garlic powder, walnut oil, Dijon mustard and salt/pepper and I rubbed it all over the roast.  I placed the roast on a plate and covered it with plastic wrap and let it marinate in the fridge over night.
I also started a batch of no-knead bread, adding a couple handfuls of raisins and a pinch of cinnamon to the mix. I covered the bowl of dough with plastic wrap and let it rise over night. In the morning, I finished prepping my dough and after my dutch oven had been in the 450 degree oven for an hour, in went the doubled-in-size dough, on went the lid, and in about 30 minutes, I uncovered it and gave it another 5-10 minutes before taking it out of the oven. It looked and smelled amazing.
I also took out my slow cooker and sliced up the white part of one small leek, two garlic cloves, two small onions and three apples (peeled and cored), and a couple sprigs of fresh rosemary, and placed in the bottom.
I added a handful of Herbes de Provence and then placed my roast on top.  Then, I poured in about a half a cup of white wine, one and one half cups of spiced organic apple cider, and sprinkled with a bit of salt/pepper.
Right after I put the lid on the cooker and set to the low setting (8 hours), I remembered that I had a sweet potato that I wanted to use up, so I quickly peeled and sliced it up and added to the pot and let the slow cooker do its job.
About an hour before the pork was to be done, I tossed some broccoli and cauliflower with olive oil and garlic and roasted in a 400 degree oven for about 45 minutes, until tender and browned.
I also wanted to make some mashed potatoes (for gravy), but I only had four small spuds, so I decided to make potato and leek soup instead. So, I thinly sliced an onion and the white portion of two leeks, and added to a large pot with two tablespoons of butter and heated to medium-low. I stirred the onions and leeks until they started to soften, then added in the four peeled and diced potatoes and heated through, adding a bit of salt/pepper. Then, I stirred in two cups of chicken broth and then added water until everything was covered by about an inch. I covered the pot and brought it to a low boil, then simmered for about 30 minutes, or until the potatoes were softened. I carefully transferred the soup to the blender (in batches) and pureed it. I poured the puree back into the pot and swirled in some whole milk (I was out of heavy cream) and added a bit more salt to taste.
Meanwhile, for our pre-dinner Attitude Adjustment, Chris made homemade ginger ale and then turned it into gin and ginger cocktails (add some gin and a lime wedge or two and you're done). A quarter cup of honey (the original recipe calls for a half cup -- which is too sweet, wethinks) and one half cup each of water and ginger (jarred and minced or fresh, peeled and sliced), bring to simmer for 10-15 minutes until flavors have combined, let cool, strain into pitcher, and add four cups club soda and enjoy. Delish!

The clock was ticking and I was still looking for something to use to soak up the gravy. I thought I might have egg noodles in the pantry -- but, no dice. Then I spotted my lovely loaf of bread and I had an even  better idea! Who doesn't love hot turkey/roast beef/ham sandwiches smothered with gravy? It's a NJ diner menu staple. I decided that I'd use the lovely raisin bread with the pork and cover it in the gravy -- the flavors would definitely complement each other well. (Yay!)

When the slow cooker turned off, I delicately moved the pork (which was falling apart) to a cutting board, removed the string and layer of fat and covered with foil to keep warm. Then, I poured all of the goodies in the bottom of the cooker into my blender and pureed it, adding a TBS of Dijon mustard and about one quarter cup of chicken broth to get it to the consistency of gravy. I poured the "gravy" into a large pot, stirred in a little less than a tablespoon of maple syrup, two teaspoons of garlic powder, and salt/pepper to taste. It was so good!
I sliced four thin pieces of the bread and put a dollop of "gravy" on each of our plates, then set a piece of bread on top.  On top of that piece went the lovely juicy, shredded pork and more gravy. Then the second piece of bread, and more piping hot gravy on top.
Served with the soup, it was La Petite Gourmess version of "Soup and Sandwich" -- and the roasted veggies were great, too.
It was a lovely, comforting fall meal and didn't really take too much effort -- cheers to the slow cooker and a bit of Gourmess creativity!