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slow cooker favorites?

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It's time to start thinking about pulling out the slow cooker again!

I've never had much success with things I've tried in that machine, but really would love to be good at it.

Please post your favorite recipes/links so I can start trying. Also, whatever tips you have about using it because I leave the house around 5:30am and get home from work around 4pm and want to make sure i don't have 1) mush or 2) something rotten by dinner time. I'm also very OK with getting home from work and putting stuff in the machine on high.

bonus points for veggie/chicken dishes or stuff that uses winter squash - my favorite.

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  1. This may not be quite what your looking for, but what i use my big 6 qrt slow cooker the most is for making chicken stock. Its the best easiest stock i have ever made, and i set it for over nite. about 8 pm i load it up, chicken backs, bones, carcuss, whatever, a carrot, a celery stock, a few pepper corns and water, turn it on low, next morning, viola, some of the best, clearest stock. I just drain it through a colinder, to get out the big stuff, then thru a fine seive or cheese cloth if i want it perfectly clear. Chicken stock without skimming or baby sitting.

    2 Replies
    1. re: lidiab

      what a good idea - I don't make stock often b/c of the babysitting factor (I have a preschooler - don't need more of that!) . . . thanks, I'm going to try this!

      1. re: lidiab

        lidiab, I just did this a few nights ago (on your rec), being the recent recipient of a 5 qt. slow cooker. Marvelous. My house didn't burn down (I know, I was a little nervous about it) and I had a wonderful stock in the morning. I did use other pots in making the rest of the intended soup, but having the stock and slip-off-the-bones chicken ready was a wonderful timesaver.

        Hmm...do they make a 12 qt slow cooker? :-)

      2. I'd love a good pulled pork slow cooker recipe, please?

        2 Replies
        1. re: mainsqueeze

          http://www.recipezaar.com/116173
          this recipe for pulled pork was delicious! the only change i made was to not chop the onions into the meat. also added coleslaw on top of the sandwiches...mmm!

          1. re: mainsqueeze

            I did a simple pulled pork using bottled bbq sauce (gasp) lots of garlic, some fresh grated ginger, and a jar of guava jelly (apricot would probably work) for the sweetness. Added some salt, pepper, a little bit of red chili flakes and that was it. Put it on high around 7, then switched to low for 8 hours before I went to bed. Kept it on warm all the next day before serving it that evening. Most everybody went back for seconds - often skipping the buns.

          2. just pulled out the slow cooker the other day and made a milk-braised pork shoulder. it's really easy, i just get a 4 lb. boneless pork shoulder roast (preferably tied). if you have time you can liberally salt and pepper the roast, wrap, and let it sit overnight in the fridge. otherwise, just s&p and put in the slow cooker. add about 4 cups of milk so that the roast is at least halfway, or 2/3 way covered. i have used a combination of milk/white wine/chicken broth or whatever's lying around the fridge...lowfat, whole milk are fine. add 8-10 peeled cloves of garlic, 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, 2 sprigs fresh oregano, and/or marjoram, thyme, again whatever's around. then turn on the slow cooker, probably to low if you're gone 10 hours. you should take out the pork once a wooden skewer goes into the meat easily. You can serve it like that, spooning the liquid over the pork (be forewarned that the milk will have separated into curds and whey). or i you want to be "fancy" you can cool the pork in the fridge. strain the cooking liquid to remove the solids and curds and also refrigerate until you can scoop off the fat. reduce the liquid down to a sauce over the stove. when you're ready to serve, slice the pork into 1/2" thick slices (letting it cool makes it much easier to slice...also trim off any excess fat), brown both sides in olive oil, and serve with sauce drizzled over. this works great for dinner parties since you can do all the cooking ahead of time, except for the last bit of browning on the stove which is really just reheating.

            1. My family makes cholent in our slow cooker, which is a mixture of barley, ebans, potatoes, and meat. It can be made all sorts of different ways but it's sooo good.

              1. Not really a recipe, but more of a technique....
                I usually use a timer (like the ones that used to turn lights on/off when you are away from home) with my slow cooker as I have a really old slow cooker that only has off/low/high settings. Alot of recipes call for 8 to 10 hour cooking times, so you can set the crock pot to start cooking 1 or 2 hours after you leave the house and turn off in 8 to 10 hours (or whatever the the recipe calls for). If you are going to be out a long time, you can set the timer to turn on the crock pot again an hour or so before you get home so that you have a hot meal ready.

                2 Replies
                1. re: mightycheesehead

                  You leave meat in a crockpot without refrigeration or heat for an hour or two?

                  1. re: Jennalynn

                    Absolutely. I have never gotten sick. In fact, there are some meats that in my regular practice, get an hour out on the counter to come to room temp prior to cook (i.e. steaks, roasts of assorted varieties). Especially in the fall /winter, the house is quite cool. I don't think that I would recommend this if the house is 90F.

                2. Worlds easiest chicken.....6-8 boneless skinless chicken breasts, 1 bottle of your favorite Mexican beer, 2 cans chopped green chilies and 1 packet taco seasoning mix. Dump it all in the slow cooker and cook on low for 6 hours. Take the chicken out of the slow cooker and shred. It's perfect for tacos, chicken quesidillas, enchildas or a new twist on chicken salad. Not gourmet but damn good.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: baseballfan

                    wow, now THAT i might try this weekend...

                    Would it be fair to said that on "high" the time would be 3 hours, and medium maybe 4.5 hours? I'm going to try that on Sunday when I won't be gone for a full work day...

                    I'm going to try it because it sounds like the leftovers would actually be worthwhile.

                    PS: no mexican beer, but I have 2 bottles of Brooklyn Lager from the last time I dated a guy that drank beer...i'll have to open one to see if it's still fresh or buy a couple more bottles. lol.

                    1. re: Jeserf

                      3 hours would probably work particularly with the boneless skinless breasts. It also depends on how many you put in. I usually cook them longer mainly because I am not home and I also usually do 8 breasts because I have a large family. You never have to worry about them getting dry....the beer takes care of that problem. You will be surprised at how tasty this chicken turns out.

                      1. re: baseballfan

                        I'll definately try it, and maybe use it throughout the week.
                        thanks!

                  2. A great thread for this time of year! Rosemary chicken - chicken thighs, enough stock to almost cover, half to one cup wine (whatever I have about), lots of chopped garlic and chopped rosemary. Cover and cook on low all day. When you get home, add rice and let cook another hour.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: AlaskaChick

                      Are the chicken with bone? Skin?
                      Thanks

                    2. We make lots of stuff in the slowcooker, but I have a baby in my lap right now so can't go look for recipes. Really, though, the following is our absolute favorite, and it's the simplest.
                      Take a boneless pork roast, whatever size fits in your pot. Doesn't need to be expensive.
                      Dump a jar of pepperoncini, juice and all, over. Cook all day on low.
                      Makes this incredibly well-flavored, slightly spicy, tangy, fall-apart fork-tender pork. Best way to serve:
                      home made corn tortillas (from a Mexican grocery store, if you have one)
                      chopped avocado
                      cilantro
                      cotija cheese

                      Insanely good and great for a party.

                      1. Then if you cook something that gets better as it gets mushier you can't fail. When I used to leave for work at 5:30 and get home at 4 I often made curry: In dry crockpot put 1/2 cup of flour. Mix with all dry seasonings (salt, curry powder, garlic, hot flaked chile, whatever) then stir in an 8-oz can of tomato sauce carefully so you don't get lumps, then add a quart of water. Add 1-1 1/2 lb of stew beef or boneless chicken breast in chunks. Add a couple of chopped onions and a bag of frozen peas. Assemble this the night before and refrigerate. Before leaving for work, dump it in slow cooker and turn on. If you're in a hurry eat it with cous-cous, which is quicker than rice as you can do it in the microwave in 3 minutes.

                        1. crock pot apple butter. Throw all your dinner recipes away after this one!

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: chelleyd01

                            chelley, care to share the recipe? I have a ton of apples from my dad's trees and need to do something soon! (BTW, good cooking apples- break down well...I assume this would suit the apple butter recipe.)

                            Thanks!

                            1. re: cayjohan

                              sure...core, peel and slice apples. Layer them in the crock pot with some cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and brown sugar. LOAD IT FULL. As they start to break down on high, add more apples. As they cook down more, add more apples. I can fit almost a whole peck into my crock pot. (I keep the extras in a a bowl of lemon water to use as needed). Add in the juice of a lemon in there somewhere. Let that sucker go on high til they are all broken down. After 6 or so hours, I whir it with my immersion blender and taste for spice. Fix it to your own taste. Then let it go awhile longer UNCOVERED til it is nice and dark brown and tastes of thick apple spiced goodness! I jar it and water bath it if I can keep everyone the hell out of it long enough!

                              1. re: chelleyd01

                                I've burned out two good crockpots making apple butter. It's SO worth it!!!

                                1. re: chelleyd01

                                  Thank you! Worked like a dream and we are well apple-buttered for the winter. I am definitely getting even more apples next year, as this is truly the easiest jam/spread making I have ever done.

                                  1. re: chelleyd01

                                    OMG I am trying this one chelleyd01! That is crazy smart! What apple or does it matter?

                              2. Rice porrige, or congee. 12 parts liquid(broth, water, some chicken bones, whatever...) to 1 part rice.

                                1. Well, er, I mostly use my crock pot to cook meat into oblivion (have small child just starting to eat real food, so stuff with short prep time that comes out soft works well for me). I've got a few 'fast' recipes that I like:

                                  Chicken Veggie Soup:
                                  1 diced onion,
                                  3-4 carrots, cut up
                                  3-4 stalks celery, cut up
                                  4 cups chicken stock & 4 cups water
                                  Salt, fresh ground black pepper to taste
                                  package of chicken thighs, bone-in or package of cut up chicken, bone in.

                                  Cook on low for 8-10 hours. I usually just boil some egg noodles separately. Take out bones and skin off chicken before serving. I have done this boneless, but the stock is so much better when you leave it cooking with the bones.

                                  Lazy Chile Verde (and Chilaques)
                                  1 3-4 pound pork roast
                                  1 can green chile or green enchilada sauce
                                  1 can chicken stock
                                  1 diced onion
                                  salt & pepper to taste
                                  Cook on low for 8 hours. Shred pork, put back in crock pot with liquid and eat right away or heat for another hour.
                                  Serve with Mexican crema and cotija cheese on top of corn tortilla chips for a fast version of chilaques.

                                  1. Get one or both "Gourmet Slow Cooker" books by Lynn Alley.

                                    Some of the recipes take over half an hour of browning and chopping. More elaborate than - throw in the meat and a jar of something - but worth it. You can shift work to the night before. Going from the fridge to the heat can add 3 hours to the cooking time, but since you are gone for so long this might keep things from getting more cooked than you prefer. You may need to experiment and use a light timer as mightycheesehead advises. Also, newer slow cookers run hotter than old ones, even on "low." There is a good chapter on these technicalities in volume 2.

                                    Some of our favorites in steady rotation:
                                    Pork with prunes, Chicken Piperade, Tarragon Chicken, Boston baked beans.
                                    You will never have had better onion soup.

                                    1. I know that I'm bumping an old thread...but the crockpot meal I made today is worth posting...Alton Brown's Slow Cooker Pepper Pork Chops. We really loved it and we are not pork chop enthusiasts. The only caution I would give is to not salt the pork chops just before browning them as instructed in the recipe--the brine gives enough flavor. Folks who raved and reviewed the recipe mentioned not salting them before browning and they were totally correct. Made this with roasted garlic mashed potatoes and steamed brocolli:

                                      http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recip...

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Val

                                        Val - I second everything you said! We love the Alton Pepper Pork Chops as well...!

                                      2. Don't know if anyone else has mentioned it here, but one of the best slowcooker investments is the "Fix it and forget it" cookbook. It sells for reasonable money and has many recipes that are easy to make, taste good, and most importantly are everyday meals that most people would eat. I have made several of the recipes in it and have not often been disappointed.

                                        1. I like the idea of attaching a timer to the slow cooker to start it at the right time. That way you're not limited just to the recipes that take 12 hours to cook.

                                          Had a West Bend slow cooker years ago, the one with the separate pan that sat on a hot plate. It wasn't worth a hoot but came with a nice cookbook. This is one of my favorite recipes from that book:

                                          Country Pork Stew

                                          1 1/2 pounds pork, cut into 1” cubes
                                          3 medium potatoes, scrubbed and cubed
                                          4 carrots, cut into 1/2” pieces
                                          1 green pepper, cut into 1/2” pieces
                                          1 medium onion, chopped
                                          1 16-ounce can whole tomatoes, cut up
                                          2 cups water
                                          1 tbsp. instant beef bouillon
                                          1 tsp. salt
                                          1/2 tsp. pepper
                                          1/2 tsp. paprika
                                          3 tbsp. cornstarch
                                          2 tbsp. water

                                          Combine all ingredients, except cornstarch and 2 tbsp. water, in slow cooker. Stir to blend. Cover and cook on low setting for 7-9 hours, or at high setting for 4-5 hours.
                                          Increase setting to high. Combine cornstarch and water. Stir slowly into stew mixture until thickened. Reduce heat to low for serving.

                                          Serve with cranberry relish and wholegrain rolls. Makes 6 servings.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: revsharkie

                                            make sure your pot is compatible with a timer, some of the new ones are not as the power has to be "on" in order to program the settings. My new one is like that. Once it has finished, it goes to "warm", which is pretty close to "low" on my old slowcooker.

                                          2. I found this recipe for pork and tomatillo stew 2 weeks ago and have now made it twice it's so good and super easy (plus I have tomatillos to use up from my garden!).

                                            http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Slow-Coo...

                                            The first night we had it with rice, second night as a burrito filling, and then with the last of the leftovers we had a twist on heuvos rancheros. The recipe says 6-7 hours on high, but I think would be fine to cook longer.

                                            1. Not exactly the easiest if you make your own red sauce, but I love nothing better than to make Spicy Pork Colorado. Great for burritos, again if you can keep everyone's face out of the pot!

                                              5 Replies
                                              1. re: chef chicklet

                                                i'd love to have your recipie for that, sounds so good

                                                1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                  I'd be happy to post, be aware, it's a messy ( wear red) afternoon project but worth the time.
                                                  I'll find my recipe, I love homemade red sauce -rich and flavorful. I use the sauce for this and tamales.

                                                  1. re: chef chicklet

                                                    Spicy Pork Chili Colorado Burritos
                                                    Put half of the following seasonings, herbs and aromatics, into the bottom of a crock pot setting on high: onions and etc. on the bottom of the crock pot or your pot.
                                                    The other half will go on top, I do it this way to ensure flavors get to the bottom of the pork roast while it begins to cook the first few hours since its frozen.
                                                    You will need:
                                                    20 large fresh flour tortillas or corn..
                                                    4-5 lb Pork Butt or whatever cut you prefer bone or not.
                                                    1 Large (huge) Onions White or Yellow
                                                    6 Large Cloves Garlic – Sliced – they break down
                                                    Chicken Broth – Use homemade broth or canned, 2 Serrano Chilies – Seeds and membrane left in chop fine.
                                                    Best done the night before, put into a crock pot –and on the bottom, 1T olive oil, 1⁄2 of the onion sliced, 3 cloves of garlic sliced, 1T Mexican Oregano crushed in your palm, 1tsp dried basil, 1 T onion powder,1T garlic powder, 1 1/2 T ground cumin,1 T Knorr’s Caldo de Pollo, pepper and salt - taste it first.
                                                    Add the pork butt. 1/2 cut up stalk of celery, the other half of the onion, the same measurements for the dry spices, only not the cumin, and add 6 cups of chicken stock. The aromatics, place on the top the tomato chopped coarsely along with the chopped Serrano.

                                                    Red sauce - use can use whatever combo, this is mine.
                                                    Dried Chilies – wash them well, remove all the seeds and membranes
                                                    3 Ancho
                                                    4 Pasillas
                                                    4 Guajillo
                                                    4 T ground California Chili
                                                    3-4 cups of the broth from the pork to soak the dried chilies. Soak for about 45 minute or until really nice and soft/pliable. You don't want any pieces left in the sauce.
                                                    This stuff can be messy, be careful to let it cool first. Then using a ladle, put into a blender,(cover it with a towel) add the now pliable chilies and 2 cups of broth, whirl, add more broth adding 2 Tables of ground chili powder to the chilies. 2 cups of tomato puree, blend. Keep adding chili powder until you like the consistency. Should be on the thick side, a thick darkish sauce.( This is like the mother sauce to add to the pork broth. Run the chili sauce through a sieve, then add the chipotle pepper blend, then 2 small cans of Salsa Casera and blend again.
                                                    Set aside to cool it will naturally thicken as it cools.
                                                    Once the pork is done, remove it from the crock pot – strain the broth through a fine sieve or cheese cloth into a bowl, remove the aromatics you only want broth. Put it back into the crock pot, add the chili sauce to the crock pot, to thicken sauce quickly whisk in a little masa or flour and water slurry place heat on high to thicken. Once the sauce is thickened, salt and pepper is to your liking,
                                                    Cube the pork if you want to make pork Colorado burritos or you can leave it whole and cut pieces when you break it apart inside the crockpot,
                                                    Place the whole pork roast or cubes back into the pot with the sauce until ready to make burritos or tamales and turn on low. Or simmer on stove top.
                                                    The hardest part now, is keeping everyone out of the pot at this point.
                                                    I use flour tortillas that have been warmed. You can make them plain, or add:
                                                    avocado, fresh tomato, cilantro, white onion, cheese, beans, rice, or whatever makes you happy. My favorite is cilantro, tomato, onion, avocado, cheese, picked jalapenos and a tad bit of sour cream.

                                                    Another way is to add a carrot or two towards the end of the cooking, and serve it as a stew, then just eat it with buttered flour tortillas.... great late night snack!

                                                    1. re: chef chicklet

                                                      wow, sounds fantastic. not sure I can find all the ingredients here, but will have to see what I can do. thanks

                                                      1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                        If you can't find the dried chilis use canned red chili sauce. The pork in itself makes anything taste good!

                                              2. This Bavarian Pot Roast recipe is one of our favorites: http://southernfood.about.com/od/croc... It's a bit of a different, fruitier taste than your standard pot roast.

                                                1. Simple crockpot chicken chicken
                                                  Season a whole chicken with as much garlic, oregano, basil, rosemary and pepper as you can stand
                                                  Ball up three pieces of aluminum foil and place in bottom of crockpot
                                                  Lay chicken, breast side down on foil balls.
                                                  Cook for 8-10 hours
                                                  It will fall apart when you take it out of the cooker - remove skin and bone and shred. Use for any shredded chicken recipe - or just eat ( it's not pretty but it's good with mashed potatoes)

                                                  1. We love cochinita pibil made in the slow cooker. I've used the Rick Bayless version, modified with some ideas I found on this board. Serve with pickled red onions. We also enjoy ropa vieja from the slow cooker. Finally, we've enjoyed a pulled chicken recipe from Eating Well.

                                                    1. I made a recipe for Lamb Korma from Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker recipes for 2, modified slightly, and it was delicious. Cut up 2 lbs lamb shoulder (fat removed), into 2 inch pieces, brown in butter (2 T total). Add 1 chopped onion and 2 cloves chopped garlic to same pan you browned the lamb in,and soften. Add 1/8 tsp cloves, 5 cardamom pods, 1/4 tsp cumin, 1/4 tsp. turmeric and 1/4 tsp coriander to onion mixture, add to lamb in pot. Add 1 can chickpeas drained, and 1/2 c. 2% Greek yogurt. Mix thoroughly. Cook on low 8 hours. Add another 1/2 c. yogurt and squeeze of 1/2 lemon, top with chopped toasted cashews and serve with rice.