Slow Cooker Recipies
If you don't own a slow cooker, quit reading this and run out and buy one. They are one of the greatest inventions of modern man, the very pinnacle of the culinary arts. I like them so much for two reasons. First, they can take cheap cuts of meat and make them more tender than the finest filet mignon. As a broke student, this gets two thumbs up from me. Second, they're easy to use: just dump a bunch of food into one, turn it on, and come back a couple of hours later, and it's done. It's almost impossible to burn or otherwise botch food in this way. The things themselves are even fairly cheap; I have a brand name, 5-quart pot that cost about $20.
Below you'll see some general information about slow cookers, and below that some recipes. I found most of them in cookbooks or on the internet, but I've altered the ingredients to suit my particular tastes. I hope you like them as well.
Slow Cooker Facts:
- Food being made in a slow cooker rarely requires stirring. If you want to check on your meal, just look through the glass lid. If you open it, you let out as much as 80% of the heat and it can take upwards of a half hour to regain the proper temperature.
- Don't use garlic in a slow cooker. I've used garlic on a number of occasions, and for some reason slow cooking seems to make it about 100 times stronger than it usually is. Would you sit down and eat a bulb of garlic raw? No? Then keep it out of the cooker.
- Trim off as much fat from the meat as you can. In a slow cooker, the fat will liquefy. Then, when you cool the food (refrigerating leftovers, for instance), it will solidify into a solid block. I made chicken once and left the fat on; the next day I had something resembling Spam.
- Browning meats before slow cooking isn't necessary, but it can be a good idea for two reasons. First, it will remove some of the fat. Second, browning meat over high heat releases flavours that are not released in slow cooking, and so your meal will be tastier.
- A number of "slow cooker" products are available, such as slow cooker liners and slow cooker helper, from the guys that make hamburger helper. I don't use either. They make the recipes more expensive and, even if you leave, say, chili in the crock pot overnight, it's a breeze to clean after an hour of soaking. The helper I don't use because, to be honest, it raises the cost. There are plenty of recipes out there that tell you exact what to do to make a tasty meal; you don't need to buy some prepackaged spices for it.
-Beans and corn are really hard to cook in a slow cooker. As they heat, the water leaks out of them. If you overcook beans or corn, they'll shrink down, and whatever you're cooking them in will get extra watery. I added canned corn to a beef stew I made once, and it came out extra watery.
On to the recipes:
- Three pounds bottom round roast, brisket, or other cheap meat
- About half an onion
- Enough water to cover roast
- Two packets powdered Onion Soup Mix
Mix all in crock pot. Cook on high 6 hours or low 8 hours. I like to shred the meat when it's done and eat it on a hoagie roll.
ALTERNATE RECIPE: Instead of using the water and onion soup mix, you can use just about any flavoured liquid. A whole bottle of BBQ sauce, italian salad dressing, a bottle of fancy marinade, water and wine, water and vinegar, whatever flavours you particularly like. Anything you would use to marinate meat is a candidate; since there are about a million kinds of BBQ sauce and marinades available, this cheap recipe never gets old.
You can make this same recipe with three pounds of roast and a can of beer. I tried it once; I found it to be completely revolting, despite the fact that I bought a relatively better beer than I usually drink for it.
Barbecue Sandwiches with homemade BBQ sauce
- Three pounds beef shoulder roast
- 2 cups catsup
- 1 chopped onion
- 1/3 cup cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup dark molasses
- 2 minced cloves garlic
- 2 tbsp worcestire sauce
- 1/2 tsp Salt, pepper, dry mustard, red pepper flakes
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- Sesame seed buns
Remove fat from beef. Combine all in slow cooker; stir until homogeneous. Coat meat with sauce. Shred meat (the original called for using 2 forks to do this; I couldn't. A knife and fork, or your hands, work just fine.) Skim any remaining fat off of the sauce. Place the shredded meat back in the slow cooker and cook 30 minutes.
This recipe originally called for less vinegar and less red pepper, but that was far too sweet for my tastes. I'm sweet enough already, so I use a little more. I'm going to try and make it using spicy catsup rather than the regular tomato kind; I'll let you know how it goes.
French Onion Soup
- Three pounds of onions
- 4 tblsp butter
- 1 tblsp sugar
- 8 cups beef broth
- 8-16 slices of crusty bread, or a box of flavoured croutons
- 1/2 cup swiss cheese
Melt butter in a pan and cook the onions until limp. Sprinkle on the sugar and cook another 8 minutes. Combine all ingredients in slow cooker. Cook on high 6 hours or low 8 hours. When serving, put the croutons and cheese on top, and stick it under a broiler for a minute or two.This is sort of complicated for a slow cooker recipe. I was impressed, though; taste the beef broth before cooking, and then after cooking. A lot of very mellow onion flavour seeps into the broth. The main problem with this recipe is that, as much as I love onion soup, I was unable to eat 5 quarts of it in any sort of reasonable time.
- 1 pound ground pork
- 2 diced onions
- 1 diced red bell pepper (or, if you prefer, 2 or 3 diced hot peppers)
- 16 oz kidney beans
- 2 cans tomatoes (I don't like tomatoes, so I get crushed and then slice them into tiny shreds)
- 2 tbsp minced ginger or 1 tblsp wasabi powder
- 2 cloves crushed garlic
- 1/4 Hoisin sauce
- 2 tbspn chili powder, soy sauce
- 1 tbsp oil, sugar
Mix all in crock pot. Cook on low 6 hours. The original recipe called for more garlic, which I found too strong, and 1/4 cup sherry, which I don't have, so I made it without.Want an easier way to make this recipe? Go find any other standard chili recipe. Most will call for added water, wine, vinegar, or juice from the canned tomatos. Instead of this liquid, add an equal amount of Hoisin sauce and a dash of Wasabi powder. I really like Hoisin sauce, which can be found in that one aisle with all the wierd ethnic food at the supermarket.
- 2-3 pounds Pork Loin Roast
- 1 can cranberries
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup apple juice
- 2 cored apples, corse chopped
- salt/pepper to taste
This was a really tasty dish, though I suspect it will be much nicer in the autumn, when such a recipe makes sense to make. Add all together, cook low 7-9 hours. Serve with rice, maybe?