Posts Tagged ‘Slow cooker’

Unrecipe of the Week: Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

January 25, 2016

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New York is experiencing a blizzard today, and everyone is longing for something warm, and hearty. Slow days like this call for slow cooking. This dish has all the right elements for a snow day. It comes together in no time, and fills the house with a delicious aroma of things to come. It is also made from things I have on hand since venturing out to the grocery store is not really an option.

This is one of the easiest ways to use the slow cooker, as this pulled pork requires no marinating, no pre-searing of the meat and almost no mess. Simply place the pork tenderloin in  the slow cooker, add the one bowl sauce, and let it cook. Later, the tender, juicy meat can be shredded and served on fluffy brioche buns for a comfort food sandwich that everyone will enjoy.

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork: ( adapted from Le Creme de la Crumb)

Place a pork tenderloin into the slow cooker bowl.

In a separate bowl mix together 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar, 1 cup of water, 1/4 cup of honey, 3 tablespoons of brown sugar and 2 tablespoons of soy sauce. Add a couple of diced garlic cloves and about 1/2 of a small onion finely diced. Sprinkle the pork with a black pepper and pour the sauce over it.
Cover, and cook at high for about 4 1/2 -5 hours.

Drain the sauce into a sauce pan and bring to a slow boil. Mix together a tablespoon of cornstarch and a some water until it forms a smooth paste. Whisk a little at a time into the sauce, and let it simmer for a few minutes until thickened.

In the meantime, use forks to shred the pork. Alternatively, you can toss it into the electric mixer with the paddle attachment, and mix on a low speed until it shreds. (It is easier, but you have to wash another bowl, and frankly, who wants to do that? But to each his own!)

Serve on toasted brioche buns and enjoy!

Photo: Spencer Jones Glasshouse Assignment

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Slow Food

December 10, 2014

This is the time of year when we crave slow foods; comforting dishes filled with tender protein and flavorful sauces. It’s time to bust out the slow cooker and make some magic.

Last year at this time, we were novices, fearing that the food would be dried out and overcooked, or raw. Now that we have made friends with our slow cooker, we have a few tips to share to ensure the tastiest and safest outcome.

1.Don’t put raw meat or chicken into the slow cooker. For added flavor and texture, brown the meat on the stovetop before putting it into the cooker.

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2.Don’t add too much liquid. Unlike other methods where high cooking temperatures cause the liquids to evaporate, slow cookers don’t allow the sauce to reduce. If you are using wine, deglaze the pan after sautéing the meat to allow some of the alcohol to burn off; don’t just pour it into the slow cooker, or you might get a harsh flavor.

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3.Start heating the cooker while you are preparing the ingredients. This allows the food to come to a safe temperature more quickly.

4.Slow cookers work by trapping the heat inside the pot over a long period of time. Lifting the lid, however tempting it may be, lets the steam and heat escape, reducing the temperature. To make sure the food is cooked at the specified time, resist the temptation to peek inside.

5.Dairy products ( milk, cream etc. ) are likely to curdle if placed in the slow cooker. If your recipe calls for dairy, add it at the end of the cooking cycle. Coconut milk is non-diary and won’t curdle during prolonged cooking, so it’s safe to put it in right away.

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6.Don’t leave raw food sitting in the cooker set on a timer to turn on after you leave the house. The food can start to spoil before the cooker starts. Place the food into the slow cooker when you are ready to begin  the cooking process.  Chickpeas and other beans can be used as a vegetarian protein, and don’t need to be sautéed first. If using canned beans, add them towards the end of the cook time so they don’t get mushy.

7. Fattier meats often withstand the slow cooker better than leaner ones. Think chicken thighs on the bone, vs. boneless, skinless breasts for a more tender and juicy outcome. Fish and seafood are more delicate, and not good choices.

8. Smaller pieces of protein will cook faster than a large piece of meat, so if time is of the essence, or you need to leave the house for a long period, gauge what is best based on how much time you have available to cook.2117900485

9. Be creative! Many recipes which require cooking in the oven or on the stovetop in a sauce can be interpreted for the slow cooker. It may take longer, but you can leave it unattended safely, and get the mess out the way early!

10. Enjoy!

photos: Glasshouse Images

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Unrecipe of the Week: Oops Soup

October 17, 2014

Sometimes the best laid plans go awry . Today’s dish really is an unrecipe: in fact, not only did I use the “little of this and a bit of that” method, I didn’t even intend it to be soup!

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It all began in the vegetable market, when I had a taste for something hearty, yet vegetarian. Autumnal flavors were on my mind, and zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes and mushrooms sounded like a good start.

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I sautéed an onion and some garlic with the mushrooms, and added some italian herbs. Sounds good, right? Well, it all went astray from there. As I tossed chunks of zucchini, eggplant and tomatoes on top of it in the slow cooker , I had some second thoughts. I wondered if 5 hours in the slow cooker might make them soft. I wondered if they might give off too much liquid. I added a can of beans to make the stew heartier, and hopefully thicken up what I realized was going to be a pot of mushy vegetables. I turned on the cooker and went about my business. When I came back a few hours later, I had just that: a pot of bland, starting to get quite mushy vegetables. They had given off quite a bit of liquid, but not enough to make soup. I added some stock and some canned tomatoes to the pot and let it cook it’s little heart out. When it was done, I pureed it into a rich, flavorful soup. It’s sort of a riff on a classic minestrone, and a little drizzle of olive oil and some grated Parmesan cheese provided the perfect finishing touch. All’s well that ends well!

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Winter Vegetable Stew Soup:

Dice one medium onion and a couple of cloves of garlic, and sauté them in olive oil until soft. Add some sliced mushrooms and continue to cook until the mushrooms release their liquid and start to brown. Add a healthy amount of dried oregano, basil and a bay leaf, and place in the slow cooker. Pile on chunks of zucchini, eggplant and tomatoes. ( I used 2 zucchini, 1 medium eggplant and 3 large tomatoes.) Season liberally with salt and pepper. Add 1 can of beans, rinsed, ( I used chickpeas ) and set the slow cooker for about 5 hours. Check it a few hours in, give it a stir and realize this is going to be mediocre at best. Add a little vegetable stock, if necessary, and a can of diced San Marzano tomatoes. Let it cook until the timer goes off.

Puree the mixture, and taste to correct seasonings. If it is too thick, add a little more stock.  To serve, place in soup bowls, drizzle with a little olive oil, and a dollop of grated Parmesan cheese. Enjoy, knowing that good cooks can salvage almost anything!

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Photos: Glasshouse Images

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Unrecipe of the Week: Moroccan Chicken Tagine

December 11, 2013

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Those of you who follow us on Facebook ( and you really should!) know that I got a slow cooker as a gift. Those of you that follow this blog, know that I am more of a fast cooker type, using fresh ingredients to create seasonal, flavorful and simple dishes. I admit to being a bit intimidated by this concept of slow cooking, and put off trying it out. Finally, on the days leading up to Thanksgiving, I was home long enough to attempt to try it out. First, I did my due diligence, researching recipes, and reading the comments. Many of the readers complained that the cooking times were off. There was lots of conversation about too much liquid, or not enough. Many of the recipes were for dishes I simply don’t care for. Finally, I stumbled upon a recipe for a Moroccan Style Chicken Tagine, with dried apricots and chickpeas. The comments were all favorable, and dish did not disappoint. The rich flavorful stew that accompanies the chicken is hearty and tasty enough to hold its own as a vegetarian dish, with a few minor tweaks ( like losing the chicken!).

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I learned a few lessons experimenting with the slow cooker:

Just tossing the ingredients into the pot and turning it on isn’t going to happen very often. Browning meats, sauteing onions, and finishing sauces on the stove top are part of the success of slow cooked foods. This (un) recipe, is adapted from the Kitchn, and requires a bit of before and after work, but the results were worth the extra effort, and the added mess.

Moroccan Chicken Tagine with Apricots and Chickpeas:

Sprinkle chicken pieces with salt and pepper and brown them in olive oil until golden. Work in batches if necessary, until all pieces are done.  Transfer them to the slow cooker.

Using the same pan, saute one diced onion and 2 peeled and diced carrots in olive oil, until soft and slightly brown. Add 2 or 3 minced garlic cloves, and a chunk of ginger root, peeled and minced to the pan, and cook for about 1 minute. Add 1 teaspoon or so of cumin, and cinnamon. Continue to saute until mixed.  Pour the mixture over the chicken. Add 1 cup of chicken stock, and a few large handfuls of dried apricots, chopped.

Turn the slow cooker up to high, and cook for roughly 4 -5 hours.

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Remove the chicken from the cooker, and place on a platter, covered with foil to keep warm. Pour the sauce, including the fruit and vegetables into a pan, add 1 tablespoon of honey, and 1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed.  Simmer until the sauce reduces a bit and starts to thicken.

Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour the finished sauce over the chicken and sprinkle with chopped almonds.

Serve on a bed of cous cous and enjoy!

photos: Glasshouse Images

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