Let Your Slow Cooker Do All The Work

crock-potThere is a funny story about how I acquired my first slow cooker, and one which resulted in some resistance to using it for a number of years. I was living with a boyfriend who thought it would be a brilliant idea to give me a Crock Pot for Christmas that year. I am sure many of you know what a faux pas that was! I was so pissed that I refused to even unpack the item for several months, then finally relented and used it. I actually loved the convenience it afforded me, especially since I was expected to cook dinner for my man on a nightly basis. I made stews, soups, chicken, jambalaya, and didn’t have to make much of an effort to create these wonderful home-cooked meals.

Thankfully my resistance to using a slow cooker has passed over the years. Whenever I use my slow cooker I am always rewarded with moist, perfectly cooked meat with minimal effort. It’s a snap to throw meat into the slow cooker, add liquid, chopped veggies and seasonings, then allow the cooker to do its thing from 4 to 10 hours while I go about my day. I still prefer the awesome char that comes from broiling or grilling, but with my crazy schedule, it is often impossible to find the time to employ those cooking methods. So if you’re one of those people who never seems to have time to cook, but you prefer home-cooked meals, consider using a slow cooker.

One thing I have noticed is that whenever I cook chicken breast in the slow cooker, it tends to taste the same no matter what seasonings I use. At some point I may try a brine or marinade and put the mixture in the fridge overnight to infuse the meat with flavor, then cook it with the slow cooker the following day. Once I figure out a good prep mixture, I will share the recipe on my blogsite.

There is a favorite recipe which I have for beef (particularly beef shortribs) which is absolutely delicious and incredibly simple. Cover the entire surface of the beef shortribs or roast with medium grind black pepper and rub into meat, then place into slow cooker. Chop green onions to make 1/4 cup and one shallot then set aside. Mix 1/3 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, 1/3 cup water and 1 clove crushed garlic in a bowl, then add the green onions and shallots. Pour mixture over beef, place lid on cooker and cook for 8 to 10 hours.

You can even cook a whole chicken in the slow cooker with little effort. Simply season the bird, place in the slow cooker, add chopped vegetables, water, olive oil, garlic cloves, lemon juice and set the cooker on high heat for 4 to 6 hours. If you’re really pressed for time, you can set a rice cooker to cook brown rice so that both dishes are completely ready for you when you get home.

If you don’t have a slow cooker, you can purchase one for as little as $30 (get at least a 3 quart size). I have the 6 quart cooker which allows me to cook whole roasts and whole chickens without an issue. These gems also last a good, long time. The one that my old boyfriend gave me lasted twenty years before I had to replace it with a new model. Slow cookers will simplify your life in the kitchen!