Slow Cooker recipes that withstand the test of time...
.. and no I don't necessarily mean "classics"
I'm looking for things to put in the slow cooker when I leave for work at 7am that can cook till I get home at 6pm and actually turn out well.
any suggestions of recipes or techniques? something other than tossing the two ones I have now (which have settings of high, low and keep warm) in favor of one of those new fangled programmable ones?
You can buy a stand alone timer for your older crockpots. I have two pots w/o timers so I bought a timer for about $15 and use it to turn the pot on or off as needed. Before I bought the timer, I used one of those devices that turns your lights on when you're on vacation. Worked fine.
Another thing I do, particularly with chicken dishes that don't require browning, is put frozen meat in the pot in the AM, which obviously lengthens the cooking time. Even prepping the dish the night before, like a pot roast, and refrigerating overnight lengthens the cooking time enough to make a long day of cooking on low feasible.
Meat sauce for pasta is happy to cook all day long and makes the house smell great.
As soccermom said, prep is all important. You can't just throw everything in and expect a good meal anymore than you can do that on the stove or in the oven. I don't use recipes for it but generally, season/flour the meat (has to be a fatty cut that breaks down w/ long slow cooking like chuck roast, short ribs, pork shoulder, chicken thighs/legs) and sear a few minutes per side. Add to crockpot (I oil it first for clean up). Add vegetables, including onions/garlic to pan and sautee until softened, remove and add to crockpot. Deglaze pan w/ wine, then add stock and tomatoes, if using, simmer and reduce some. Use about half the liquid you'd use on the stove because it does not evaporate in the slow cooker. You need a slow cooker with a timer so it'll turn down to warm when it's done.
I don't like chicken skin in the slow cooker but think they add flavor so I sear it and then remove before eating. I think it helps some w/ moisture, too. I love my slow cooker because I can come home to a hot meal w/out doing anything but it's more work than braising on the stove or in the oven and not quite as good.
I agree with the prep. I’m a morning person and I’m happy to wake up a half hour early to have nicely browned pieces of beef in a stew. The meat just seems to break down too much for the time period that I’m cooking.
The one cut of meat that I always have success with in the crock is a pork shoulder. Seems like I can cook that forever, but I don’t want to be the one trick pony and was looking for more options to have a meal at the ready when I walk in the door.
Wondering if making jambalaya would work? Just add rice when I get home
Soccermom, I'll have to pick up a copy of Slowcooker Revolution
I have had very bad luck with producing slow cooker dishes that taste good. Generally, they have turned out tasting like the "goodness" has been slowly cooked right out of them.
I just got a copy of Slow Cooker Revolution (by the Cooks Illustrated/America's Test Kitchen folks) and I've made two recipes from it which were very good. Both were chicken recipes that called for only 4 hours of cooking time.
Like you, I'd love to put ingredients in the slow cooker and come home 10 or more hours later to a delicious dinner. There are not a lot of recipes (IMHO, anyway) in Slow Cooker Revolution that call for such a long cooking time. But there are a few, mostly soup recipes, which I intend to try.
The recipes in this book do call for some prep time, but that's a "price" I'll gladly pay in order to produce a dish worth eating.