Years ago… like 20+… we lived a particularly hectic life. With two very active kids, full-time, burgeoning careers, and full social lives, getting a healthy dinner on the table was, to coin a phrase, ‘challenging’. I don’t remember who made the suggestion or how I came to possess my Crockpot brand 6-quart slowcooker but, I do know I have used it hundreds and hundreds of times and it’s NEVER let me down. I cannot tell you how many times I’d do some quick chopping and mincing , maybe a little searing and/or browning the night before then, pull everything out of the fridge in the morning, set up the device, dump it all in, set it and forget it…AMAZING!
Slow cookers are really very simple cooking tools and, I think, essential in any kitchen. The key components are a heavy stoneware crock, along with a tight-fitting lid. The crock fits into a base that generates low, consistent heat from underneath. The crock gradually builds heat to a maximum point of about 210 degrees and then holds it steady. The lid ensures that nearly all steam is recaptured, producing a gentle, moist cooking environment particularly ideal for breaking down tough connective tissues in meat.
Slowcookers braise your food. That long, slow application of heat in a moist environment at low temperature produces truly amazing results. They do great things for soups, stews and chili, but they really shine in how they transform meats and poultry. It’s easy to overcook roasts in the oven. It’s virtually impossible in a slowcooker.
Cheaper, tougher cuts of meat like beef brisket, pork or lamb shoulder or even chicken thighs turn deliciously tender. And, the slowcooking process transforms their juices into incredible sauces. Those incredible juices also mean you can use less meat and bulk up on more veggies to let them soak up the flavour saving money and improving overall nutrition
Considering all the amazing value above, for my money, the absolute best thing about my slowcooker is that I pre-prep everything and throw it all in together, set the heat and time and walk away! And, I always have lots of leftovers to freeze for later or to eat throughout the week.
Here’s a handy chart that will help you adapt recipes from the stovetop or oven:
One final Veteran Move worth noting: Root vegetables like parsnips, potatoes, turnips etc can take longer than meat and other vegetables so, always try to put these near the heat source, at the bottom of the pot, then the meat or the rest of the mixed veggies.
Try this recipe. If you like it… even if you don’t… please comment and like the blog. Come back and see us some time!