By Jean Redstone
If you opened a crockpot or slow-cooker this holiday, count yourself a lucky participant in a replaying kitchen trend. People who once eschewed the kind-of-clunky crockpot of old are embracing the spiffy stream-lined version for its ease of handling and functionality for meal preparation.
There’s something sort of decadent about throwing a bunch of stuff into a shiny deep pot and coming back many hours later to find a finished and nutritious meal ready to ladle out. And hot – a hot meal to steam up a cold day’s dinner.
Another plus to slow cooking is you can do much of the preparation the night before, especially mixing the ingredients (mix and store dry and wet separately) and even cooking ahead items that need it, like braising onions or boiling noodles. Perhaps the most convenient aspect, though, is your pot will often make enough for more than one meal.
Your new pot, if you received one, came with recipes, but for those who want to reacquaint themselves with the crockpot on the shelf that’s not been used in years or if you have lost the recipes when the box for the new cooker was tossed, here are three easy basics to get you started. All designed to warm your winter.
CLASSIC CROCKPOT ROAST
Easy, tasty, satisfying
2 lbs. beef roast, usually chuck
4 medium to large potatoes, washed and cut into 1-inch cubes (peeling optional)
1 1⁄2 C baby carrots, frozen or canned
1 large onion, quartered, leaves pulled apart
1 1⁄2 C beef broth
1 (1 1/2 ounce) envelope onion soup mix
Place roast into crockpot and surround with vegetables. Combine beef broth and onion soup mix, then add to crockpot. Cover and cook on low 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours. Makes 6 servings
adapted from bettycrocker.com
1/4 C butter or margarine
1 large onion, chopped (about1 C)
1/4 C all-purpose flour
1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk
1 carton (32 oz) chicken broth 1 bag (14 oz) frozen baby broccoli florets, thawed
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1 loaf (8 oz. box) soft cheese such as Velveeta ™
11/2 C shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese (6 oz)
1 C shredded parmesan cheese (4 oz)
Additional shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese, if desired
Spray 4-quart crockpot with cooking spray. In a 12-inch skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat. Cook onion in butter for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender. Slowly stir in flour. Cook 1 more minute, stirring constantly. Gradually stir in milk until smooth.
Pour mixture into the slow cooker. Stir in the broth, broccoli, pepper and salt. Cover; cook on low heat for 4 hours or until bubbly. Before serving, add cheese cubes to the pot and stir until melted. Then add the cheddar and the parmesan cheese; stir until melted. Sprinkle individual servings with additional cheddar cheese. Makes 8 bowls.
adapted from Pillsbury.com
1 pkg. boneless skinless chicken thighs (about 6)
1/4 C chicken broth
1 container (8 oz) chive and onion cream cheese spread
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 C chopped cooked bacon
1 C frozen sweet peas
Cooked egg noodles, amount as desired
Spray bottom of 3- to 4-quart crockpot with cooking spray. Add chicken thighs to slow cooker. In small microwave-safe bowl, mix chicken broth, cream cheese spread, salt and pepper. Microwave uncovered on high for 1 minute; beat with whisk until smooth. Pour mixture on top of chicken thighs. Cover; cook on Low heat setting 3 to 3 1/2 hours or until juice of chicken is clear when thickest part is cut (at least 165°F).
Stir 3/4 cup of the bacon and the frozen sweet peas into chicken mixture; mix well. Increase heat setting to high; cover and cook 10 to 15 minutes or until peas are cooked. Serve chicken and sauce over cooked egg noodles; top with remaining 1/4 cup bacon. Serves 6.