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Crock pots for something other than stew?

I just got a crock pot for Christmas and was wondering if someone had any suggestions on things to make that aren't stews. I want to get some milage out of this thing and would love ideas.

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  1. One of our New Years resolutions is to do more crockpot cooking this year. Tomorrow, I'm going to put chicken breasts in the crockpot, pour a jar of good salsa over them, make a cake of cornbread, and call it supper.

    2 Replies
    1. re: breadbox

      we do this same sort of thing...boneless skinless chicken breasts and some rotel or salsa and jalapenos. Shred the chicken when done. use for tacos, burritos, or taco salads, etc. So good.

      1. re: breadbox

        You can cook a package of chicken breasts in commercial chicken broth in a crock pot. The breasts can be used later for shredding or to make chicken salad, or for whatever chicken filling you might want to make. You can also cook a whole chicken in the slow cooker in commercial broth. You will have very nice broth, partic. if you add aromatics. You could then proceed on to chicken soup.

        I recommend this slow cooker cookbook highly: Not Your Mothers Slow Cooker Cookbook, by Beth Hensperger.

      2. I've "baked" potatoes in mine. I've made potato gratin in it (came out really moist and good). I've cooked steel cut oats for breakfast in it. I've made black bean soup. I've put up meatballs in sauce for a party to stay warm all evening. I've done mulled cider (also for a party so it stays warm). I've made pink beans (for beans and rice). I've made rice (but it takes a long time -- it's good if your burners are taken up with something else).

        I've read (but have not yet tried) that you can do a lasagna in it -- and then remove the ceramic pot part and put it in the oven for a few minutes to brown the top. I'd no idea that the inside part could go in the oven. I want to read my "manual" first to be sure this is the case.

        I'm sure there are plenty of other ideas too.

        1. Hah, oddly enough I have vowed to not use my slow cooker as much this year, which is only used for stews,soups, and chilies usually.

          Some of my non soup favs in the crock pot have been throwing a small beef roast in there with a jar of salsa untill the meat falls apart and the salsa turns into a thick sauce, throw that on some fresh bread and its a super quick,cheap easy winner.

          I'va also done potatoes in it just out of whimsy, I just threw a bunch of frsh peeled baby potatoes in there with onions and chicken stock. Got home from work strained them and tossed with a little butter and fresh parsely.

          However I will now keep it on hand to make stocks, I can't believe I never thought of that.

          1. I'm not sure this counts as cooking, but my mother makes mulled wine and mulled cider in hers. It's especially handy for parties, as it keeps the liquid warm without the risk of an open flame and makes the house smell lovely.

            2 Replies
            1. re: mordacity

              Actually, that's a great idea and one I will use for an upcoming party.

              1. re: mordacity

                Along with the mulled ciders, I use my crocks as warmers for parties.
                1. Spanish Rice
                2. Beans-mashed
                3. Warm dips
                4. Placing warm tortillas in the crock relieves the labor intensive heating tortillas during a party.
                Old stand by for parties:
                A can of Nacho Sauce and the side of chips.

              2. I got Lynne Alley's The Gourmet Slow Cooker (both volumes) and I've made some great things that are definitely not stew! I do have the type of crock pot you can brown in on the stovetop, however. I find that makes reducing the rather tasty juices much easier. We really love the Korean style ribs.

                1. It appears it is time for the best, and easiest crockpot recipe ever.

                  Pulled Pork.

                  1. Obtain a cheap pork roast. Pork shoulder is best.
                  2. Place pork roast in crock pot.
                  3. Pour 3 tablespoons of Worcestershire Sauce onto the roast
                  4. Pack roast in 1/3 cup brown sugar, so you have about a 1/8" layer on the outside.
                  5. Put lid on crock pot and turn it on high.
                  6. Return in 6 hours, and pull it apart with two forks.
                  7. Enjoy in burritos, fried in a little bit of oil and serve atop cheese enchiladas, make a bbq sauce based pulled pork sandwich (don't forget the pickle slices!) or invent a new dish.

                  My Blog: http://www.epicureforum.com

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: sirregular

                    Naw, I think my pulled pork wins for easy:). Ditto yours, cheap boneless roast the size that fits in the pot. Pour a jar of pepperoncin over. Roast all day on low. PUll apart with forks.

                    Serve with cotija cheese, cilantro, avocado, and fresh corn tortillas, plus some good salsa verde.

                    1. re: AnneInMpls

                      I do this every couple of months or so. The meat pulls right off the bones, and it's excellent for salads, sandwiches, and enchiladas. I have a few refinements to the links above. I put a half or whole onion in the cavity, which adds a little liquid. I use a metal steamer rack instead of the foil balls, so you can get all the liquid (which I store or freeze the meat in). And make sure the breast is down so it bastes in the fat from above. I've used both Mexican and Middle Eastern spices mixes to great effect.

                      1. re: AnneInMpls

                        Kudos to the roast chicken idea. In fact, just last night I roasted a chicken in the oven and found myself swearing that it wasn't worth the stress and that slow-cooker roast chicken is the way to go. I realize that oven roasting a chicken is generally not considered stressful, but it is SO EASY in the slow cooker that it makes oven roasting seem stressful.

                        I read through those threads about roasting chicken, and I want to add few things-

                        I liked the idea to use time foil to keep the chicken off the bottom of the crock and allow for more even cooking. I've never done that though, and I usually put root veggies on the bottom, which I think has a similar effect.

                        The only liquid I use is a wee bit of lemon juice.

                        To get an edible skin, I brown the whole thing first. It doesn't take long. Admittedly, the skin is not QUITE as amazing as oven roasted chicken skin, but it's certainly edible and I certainly eat it.

                        Only once did I cook my chicken for ten hours. Though it was good and falling off the bones and all that, but I though the texture was little mushy and dry. The next time I did it, I checked the temp of the chicken after only about 6 hours and it was 170 in the breast and 185 in the thigh, which I call done. I think the texture of the chicken at this point is way better than when I let it go for the full ten hours.

                        1. re: erns53

                          I have one of the old-school crockpots on which LOW is REALLY LOW. My understanding is that newer crockpots have higher lows, due to safety concerns. Older recipes may not work the same way in newer crockpots.

                          1. re: heatherkay

                            Yeah, I'm not sure how old mine is... I bought it used. My guess is not so old from the look of it, so that might explain the cook time.

                      2. I buy whole chickens when they're on sale. Put the chicken in the crock pot, no water necessary, and cook on low for 10 hours or so. Take the meat off the bones and use for sandwiches or any recipe calling for cooked chicken.

                        1. I most frequently use my crock pot to make shredded meat for tacos. It doesn't matter if it's chicken, pork, or beef. I usually throw in a jar of salsa, some cumin, red pepper flakes, oregano, either a bottle of beer or 1/2 cup of tequila, and maybe some beef or chicken bullion. I don't really measure ingredients, so that's about as specific as I can get.

                          In a similar theme, I'll make shredded pork for BBQ sandwiches. Either making my own sauce or using a bottle of my favorite brand.

                          I frequently use my crockpot to make pot roast in the winter. Beef, potatoes, baby carrots, onions, celery, 1 cup of beef broth, 1 cup of red wine (whatever bottle is open in my house), and a can of cream of mushroom soup (I know, not very gourmet, but it works). Then some salt, pepper, and some bay leaves. Even gets good reviews from my insanely picky MIL.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Lady Godiva

                            Lady I will definitely be trying this as I happen to have that all on hand and need an easy meal tommorow, (who cares if the cream of mushroom soup isn't gourmet, as long as it tastes good cause thats what its all about).

                            1. re: Moots

                              Oh, something I forgot, I find that 6 or 7 hours on low is usually enough time for a 2.5 -3 pound roast. For anything over 3 pounds, 8 hours will be better. I find that going much over 8 hours and the meat gets dry. I like it when the meat shreds easily, but isn't dry when you're eating.

                          2. 1) When I was working I used to roast a turkey breast in my crock pot. I would put it in frozen at 10 or 11 PM and let it cook on low all night and all the next day. When I got home at about 4 the next day, it would be done and even a little bit brown. 2) I routinely make chicken stock in my crock pot. 3) Steamed puddings do well; use a pudding pan with a cover for the pudding mixture or fasten foil and cloth tightly around the top and of course put water in the crock. 4) At summertime parties, for keeping a large quantity of corn on the cob hot and nice in some water. 5) Not sure how you're defining "stew"---I make barbecued beef and curry more often than I do stew.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Querencia

                              Oooh, curry, never thought of that. Any recipe suggestions?

                            2. sauce and meatballs
                              sausage and white bean soup
                              beef/chicken stock
                              apple butter
                              pumpkin butter
                              beef roast
                              pork roast
                              bbq pork
                              italian beefs
                              salsa chicken
                              steel cut oats with fruit
                              pasta e fagiole

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: chelleyd01

                                we love, love, love this alton brown pork chop recipe http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recip...

                                it's not a toss in the crockpot and go recipe though but the extra prep is well worth the results

                              2. Here are 2 that always get good reviews.

                                The first one - get a boneless pork roast, rub with about a cup of brown sugar, dump a jar of your favorite salsa over, cover and cook until it falls apart and serve on tortillas.

                                Crockpot Tamale Pie
                                3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
                                1 cup beef broth
                                1 lb. extra lean ground beef
                                1 tsp. chili powder
                                1/2 tsp. ground cumin
                                1(14-16 oz.) jar thick and chunky salsa
                                1 (16oz.) can whole-kernal corn, drained
                                1/4 cup sliced ripe olives
                                2 oz. reduced-fat Cheddar cheese, shredded (1/2 cup)
                                In a large bowl, mix cornmeal and broth; let stand 5 min. Stir in beef, chili powder, cumin, salsa, corn and olives. Pour into a 3 1/2 qt. slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW 5 to 7 hrs. or until set. Sprinkle cheese over top; cover and cook another 5 minutes or until cheese melts

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: LisaN

                                  Thank you. I'm going try the tamale pie.

                                  1. re: LisaN

                                    The crockpot tamale pie sounds so good! When you make it, do you add raw or cooked ground beef? Thanks

                                  2. I use my crock pot frequently for two things: red beans and rice, and "roast" chicken. I have also used it for pot roast and come to think of it this is just the time of year to be making such a thing.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: thedoorchick

                                      Can you share youre red beans and rice recipe with us? I'd love to have it.

                                        1. re: mschow

                                          I'm not thedoorchick, but I think we have he same recipe:
                                          Red Beans and Rice
                                          1 pound dried red kidney beans
                                          1/2 cup dried parsley
                                          1/4 cup oil
                                          1 tsp garlic
                                          1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
                                          2 tsp salt
                                          1-2 tsp Cajun seasoning
                                          1 Tbsp sugar
                                          1 chopped onion
                                          1 chopped bell pepper
                                          2-3 stalks celery, chopped

                                          Soak beans in water overnight. Drain and rinse. Place beans in crock pot with all ingredients (I never measure the spices, just add as much as I like). Stir and cover with water. I cook mine on HIGH all day, but my crockpot's kinda lame. So you might want to try LOW all day and see how that goes. When you get home, stir the beans often, getting them nice and creamy and mushing them up a little bit. On your stovetop, saute some chopped sausage until nicely browned. Add sausage to beans (I usually pour in the sausage grease, too), stir and serve over rice. This freezes great.

                                          It's tasty if you add a can of chicken broth (or vegetarian, if you prefer) and a can of beer in place of some of the water.

                                          1. re: Amuse Bouches

                                            Question -- why not just add the sausage in at the start?

                                      1. Any braise works well. Use a little less liquid, and brown beef, pork, or lamb on the stove first. I make a mighty mean Coq au Vin in the slowcooker. It's also great for stocks and caramelized onions.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: pikawicca

                                          Could you post your Coq au Vin recipe? Thanks!

                                          1. re: Tom P

                                            Really simple. Get a good free-range chicken, about 4-5 pounds. Put it in your slow cooker. Add a couple of chopped carrots and onions, a chopped celery stalk, minced clove of garlic, 2 slices good bacon, bay leaf, a few thyme sprigs, 5 or six black peppercorn and a couple of teaspoons of kosher salt. Pour in half a bottle of the best red wine you can bring yourself to cook with. Cook on low 5-6 hours. If the chicken seems done before you're ready to eat, just turn the cooker off.

                                            With your fingers, mix 1 T. flour into 1 T. soft butter. Strain the chicken cooking juices. Put the liquid in a saucepan and reduce to about 1 1/2 cups. Bit-by-bit, whisk in the flour/butter mixture, whisking until thick.

                                            You can delete any veggies you don't have, add mushrooms, etc. The basic components are a good chicken and a good bottle of wine. Lacking these, anything you do won't be worth much.

                                        2. My favorite beef recipe is:
                                          3-4lb roast
                                          1 jar of pepperoncini

                                          Brown roast. Throw it in, pour the peppers in, and cook on low for 8-10 hours. It's so good.

                                          And with those Reynolds crock pot liners, clean up is so easy.

                                          We've vowed to eat more soup this winter, and the crock pot is an easy way to do that while I'm away at work all day.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: mamamia

                                            I also add "zesty" Italian salad dressing seasoning and California mix pickles.

                                            1. re: heatherkay

                                              Is this like an Italian Beef Chicago style?

                                          2. i have a batch of onions caramelizing in mine right now. about 6 nice big yellow onions and 4 oz butter...let em hang for about 8 hours, smelling increasingly wonderful! then you can freeze some, use some for soup, and some for flatbreads....

                                            6 Replies
                                            1. re: chez cherie

                                              I have Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Recipes for Two by Beth Hensperger and love it.

                                              1. re: MIss G

                                                Ditto. They have a corn spoonbread that is fantastic, as well as several souffle-ish dishes you can put together for breakfast.

                                                I caramelize 5 lb. bag of onions in my crockpot using 1 stick of butter and a little salt and pepper, and freeze them in 1 c. portions in zip top sandwich bags.

                                                Brisket-- I use Bittman's spicy brisket recipe from HTCEverything.

                                                1. re: Notorious EMDB

                                                  wow, the onions thing sounds like a great idea!! could you tell me exactly how/how long you do this??thanks!...oh, just saw links below so I will check this out too!

                                                  1. re: geminigirl

                                                    Re: the onions-- just your standard thin slices, and I put them on low for 5 hours or high for 2 1/2-3, depending on how hot your "high" setting is.

                                                2. re: MIss G

                                                  I have that book too and highly recommend it.

                                                3. re: chez cherie

                                                  That sounds great. I'm going to have to give it a try.

                                                4. Don't laugh - I actually made a very good "cake" in mine once! It was along the lines of a chocolate-lava cake type thing and it actually was very good.

                                                    1. re: geminigirl

                                                      Oh yes, oatmeal. Erika - use steel cut oats, a little salt, and about a 4:1 ratio water to oats. Add dried fruit (you may need more water), nuts, whatever.. . Let cook over night and a delicious bunch of oatmeal will be ready for you in the morning. Easy peasy.

                                                      I often like my oatmeal like grits - savory, with butter and S&P.

                                                    2. I also make carnitas using my crock pot. A pork shoulder roast with a large onion, coriander, cumin sead, oregano, bay, juniper, garlic, and a cup or two of water. Cook on low until it falls apart (12 hours-sh). To finish, pull it apart and bake uncovered in a roasting pan (with liquid) at about 450 until sizzling and brown. I don't bother to brown the roast because it finishes in the oven.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. I could not live without my crock pot. As a matter of fact I just used my left over prime rib from the holidays to make the best BBQ beef you ever tasted. I use it alot to recreate meals from left overs.
                                                        My favs to cook in it are:
                                                        Fresh Pork Shoulder- pulled pork dinner
                                                        Marinara Sauce with meat (pork, chicken, sausages & meatballs)
                                                        I make Hawiian Meatballs in it
                                                        Chowders - Clam, Fish & Corn
                                                        Chicken wings
                                                        Chicken dishes of all kinds
                                                        If you can cook it you can crock cook it... Experiment and you will be pleasantly suprised.

                                                        3 Replies
                                                        1. re: MeffaBabe

                                                          I agree. I love my crockpot, too.

                                                          Other than stews, I do quite a few of the above (caramelized onions, curry, bread puddings, coq au vin, oatmeal, stratas, pulled pork,..). Also: make stocks, bean soups, simmer spaghetti sauce (adding raw meat balls and letting it cook all day), meatloaf, lasagne, shepherd's pie,potatoes, stroganoff, chicken paprikash... It can be used for anything you'd simmer or bake. I'm going to try cheesecake in ramekins at some point. I think it's the perfect environment for a smooth creamy cheesecake.

                                                            1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                              I spray the crockpot and just layer everything in it the way you normally would (so precook the meats). I cook it on low (or warm on my super heated crockpot). I use no-boil noodles but soak them in hot water first. I use a lot of spray, though. It does tend to stick if you don't have enough.

                                                        2. I make a mean beef or chicken marsala in one. Dust and lightly brown either beef or chicken, add fresh ground pepper and dried oregano to taste. Add a 1-1 mixture of chicken/beef broth and marsala wine to make the meat float. Add a variety of mushrooms and cook for 5-6 hours on low. Tender and tasty and easy. You can thicken sauce with a bit of cornstarch is you prefer but I find that it is usually thick enough for me and mine.

                                                          1. Okay, another question - I just got the very basic 5.5 quart model--does anyone have any of the fancier, new ones with the timers and meat thermometers such as http://www.target.com/Hamilton-Beach-...

                                                            , and should I take this one back (rival, very basic model) and get one of those instead?

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: erikka

                                                              Keep the Rival. You may never find a need for the fancy one, but you'll always use the Plain Theodora one, regardless.

                                                              1. re: erikka

                                                                I've never seen one with a meat thermometer but it would be great if that would turn the crockpot automatically to warm when the meat was done. I like the timer--ours turns to warm once the time is up. We often get held up and don't get home when planned. The absolute necessity I'd say is having a crock that is removeable. There is also a new Hamilton Beach model that has three stackable crocks in different sizes. I think that could come in handy, too (even if it only lets you say w/ a straight face, "That's a pile of crock!").

                                                              2. Layer a meal in with the potatoes at the bottom, carrots and celery and your roast, or chicken.
                                                                Also you can put breasts with onions on the bottom,stuffing, and more breast on the top.
                                                                Great for Pork Colorado! This is one of our favorites, using the meat for burritos, stew or tamales. YUM!

                                                                1. What an array of ideas! And not a single one calls for a can of "condensed cream of anything" soup.

                                                                  1. agree w/ all the steel cut recs.

                                                                    also, caramelized onions... fantastic.

                                                                    i've made ahi tuna steaks w/ shiitakes, bok choy and a soy/bragg's based marinade

                                                                    bread pudding

                                                                    sticky buns

                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Emme

                                                                      Could you share how you do the caramelized onions? Cooking time?

                                                                    2. I use mine for kheer (rice pudding).
                                                                      1 cup rice, 4 cups milk , 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup turbinado sugar in the pot for 3 hours . Add crushed green cardamoms and a tspn of ghee and cook without lid for 5 more min.

                                                                      1. Has anyone tried pork with Coca Cola? I sometimes eat in a lunch place where they have delicious roast pork (not a loin, probably a shoulder cut up). The cook told someone he roasts it in coke! It is not sweet, and the gravy is delicious. I was thinking of trying it in the crockpot. Brown first? I don't know. I will use shoulder and probably add some garlic and onion to the pot. Ideas?

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: MazDee

                                                                          If you add some ketchup (equal parts coke/ketchup) and then some onions, garlic and I cut some potatoes in 1/2 and put in if you like some heat some hot sauce or pepper flakes it makes a great bbq sauce and complete meal. I make this in my crock pot all the time... for weight watchers or dieters use diet coke...

                                                                        2. I just posted this to another CH thread. It's great for parties:

                                                                          Crockpot Sugared Pecans & Walnuts

                                                                          1 pound Pecans or Walnut pieces
                                                                          1/2 cup Unsalted butter - melted
                                                                          1/2 cup Powdered sugar
                                                                          1/4 tsp Allspice - ground
                                                                          1/8 tsp Cloves - ground
                                                                          1 1/2 tsp Cinnamon - ground
                                                                          1/4 tsp Ginger - ground

                                                                          - - Preheat crockpot on high for 15 minutes.
                                                                          - - First, in preheated crockpot stir the walnuts (or pecans) and butter until mixed well.
                                                                          - - Add the powdered sugar, stirring to coat evenly.
                                                                          - - Cover and slow-cook on high for 15 minutes.
                                                                          - - Reduce the heat to low and slow cook, UNCOVERED, stirring occasionally until the nuts are coated with a crisp glaze (should be about
                                                                          two hours.)
                                                                          - - Transfer the nuts to a bowl.
                                                                          - - In another small bowl, combine the spices and sift them over the nuts,
                                                                          stirring to coat evenly,

                                                                          - - Let cool before serving.

                                                                            1. I have had success with several recipes from Secrets of Slow Cooking by Liana Krissof, especially the Mole Verde, which I posted about months ago http://www.chowhound.com/topics/441571.

                                                                              The book indicates you can also do Duck Confit, though I've never tried.

                                                                              My new favorite crock pot recipe is for Split Pea Soup, adapted from a Whole Foods handout.

                                                                              Layer evenly in the crockpot in the following order:
                                                                              1. small bag of split peas, rinsed and drained
                                                                              2. two cups diced ham or canadian bacon
                                                                              3. 1/2 cup carrots, peeled and sliced
                                                                              4. one onion, chopped
                                                                              5. two celery stalks with leaves, sliced
                                                                              6. bay leaf
                                                                              7. sprinkling of thyme, sea salt, cracked pepper

                                                                              Pour six cups of chicken stock over it. DO NOT STIR. Cook on high for 3 hours or low for 6 hours. Stir and serve.

                                                                              1. How many things to cook in my crockpot!
                                                                                Greek Chicken - whole chicken, garlic(lots), potatoes, celery, onions and Red Wine, olive oil, oregano and salt,
                                                                                Pot Roast
                                                                                Puerto Rican Rice and Beans
                                                                                Hot Sausage in wine with pepper and onions
                                                                                Cabbage with corned beef
                                                                                There maybe more that i have tried and succeeded at ... mostly I start them in the morning and leave them till I get home...some like chili and BBQ I cook and let sit for another day

                                                                                1. Here is my cheap, fast, and EASY lentils and sausage crockpot recipe::

                                                                                  1 bag of brown lentils (16 oz)
                                                                                  1 small (14 oz? or so?) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
                                                                                  2 regular sized cans chicken broth
                                                                                  1.5 cups water
                                                                                  1 bay leaf

                                                                                  put all of the above in slowcooker and cook on high one hour

                                                                                  THEN take one kielbasa (1 lb or so) and cut into coins
                                                                                  or, if you want it SPICY, take andouille sausage and do same -- just make sure you're using PRE-COOKED sausage

                                                                                  add sausage coins and cook on high 2 more hours or so

                                                                                  you may need to add salt at the end.

                                                                                  that's it!i serve it on rice or whole wheat couscous with dabs of plain yogurt. YUM!

                                                                                  1. Country Style Pork Ribs are made for the crock pot. Just cover them with barbeque sauce thinned out with a little vinegar and leave them all day. It is the only way my son likes them. I have also done this with a bottle of that black honey garlic sauce (again thinned out a bit with rice wine vinegar or soya sauce).

                                                                                    I have tried several meatloaf recipes and have not been happy with the results. The meat was just grey (or gray).

                                                                                    1. Thank you for this post. We're redoing our kitchen and so buying a crock pot tonight. We haven't used one in close to 30 years, and this gives us a lot of great ideas.

                                                                                      1. I had a New Year's Eve party this year. I had a ton of food (and much more was brought by guests) but wanted something I could keep warm in the smaller of my crock pots. About 5 hours before the party I googled "warm dip in crock pot" and found a few recipes that were for 16 ouces of Velveeta, a can of Rotel, and spicy browned sausage (out of the casing). I've only bought Velveeta one other time and was kind of grossed out by it. But I went to my Harris Teeter and they had giant 32 ounce blocks of it on sale ($4.10?). Got one of them, two cans of spicy Rotel and some hot Italian sausage that I browned. I dumped it all in the crock pot. 4 hours later it was looking and smelling good. I put a bowl of chips next to it and it was gone by 9 pm.