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Things that actually do great in the crockpot, when you are truly out all day

I know there have been quite a few crockpot threads, but I have found only two things that truly do well given a newer model (hotter) crockpot and a long day outside the house (11 hours in my case - so dishes cook at least 6 hours on low and 5 hours at Keep Warm):
- beef stew of just about any kind (I do brown the meat in the oven, saute my aromatics and reduce any wine or beer first)
- pork shoulder with just about any seasonings (I don't even bother to brown this, I truly can just dump stuff in the crock and be happy with the results).
I find white meat chicken is overcooked in under two hours, and dark meat just produces too much fat.
I am thinking of trying dried beans in there. I do also do chicken/turkey broth and applesauce, have used it for caramelized onions, but I am looking more for working-parent type recipes that I can prep the night before or even in the morning and have dinner when I come home. Ham bone or smoked turkey leg maybe?

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  1. Fake cassoulet.

    dried white beans, keilbasa sausage, onion, carrot, celery, thyme, savory, chicken stock (or water). Let it simmer all day. When you get home, throw in a can of tomatoes, and a bunch of kale. Season with salt and pepper.

    So easy, and delicious.

    5 Replies
      1. re: tzurriz

        I made this last night for dinner actually, and substituted Penzey's FORWARD seasoning blend for the thyme (still added some dried savory), and my husband said it was one of his favorite meals of all time.

        1. re: tzurriz

          I made this today minus the kale and it was great! I had the chance to simmer the tomatoes a bit but I usually will want to eat as soon as I get home. Can the tomatoes (one small can) go in at the beginning? I know there's a problem with acid and beans cooking but my beans were way done after an overnight soak and 10 hours on low and it's just a little tomato relatively....
          Anyway, even my kids (not big bean eaters) liked this. I'll probably try adding skinless chicken thighs (hopefully bone-in) next time.

          1. re: julesrules

            I wouldn't add the tomatoes ahead of time. All they need to do is get warm. So, walk in the door, add the tomatoes, then set the table and such. By the time you are ready to eat, the tomatoes will be heated through and ta-da, dinner.

            I just wouldn't want to risk messing up the all day softening . . .

            :)

        2. Dried beans do great in the crockpot all day. I usually use black beans, as they're a favorite around here, but have used pintos and chickpeas successfully, too.

          I'm glad you mentioned not liking chicken in the crockpot. I thought it might have been my recipe, but I didn't enjoy it either.

          I've seen recipes for turkey breasts, but haven't tried one yet.

          4 Replies
          1. re: hippiechickinsing

            Now see I think turkey breast would get overcooked. Not sure if the larger size would help. Even when I did a whole chicken, the breasts were overcooked to my taste (not necessarily dried out - chicken breast can be moist, but overcooked, as in soup).
            I'm definitely going to experiment with dried beans.

            1. re: julesrules

              Goulash Soup: Put 1/2 cup of flour in the bare crock-pot. Add salt to taste and 2 tablespoons paprika (the sweet, not the hot, kind). Stir in a big can of crushed tomatoes and a couple of cans of water. Add 1 1/2 lbs beef stew meat with each cube cut through a couple of times to make smaller bits. Add 2-3 potatoes cut into large cubes, 1-2 onions ditto, and a big sweet red bell pepper cut up. Add 1/4 tsp hot chili pepper (or more). Add water up to within an inch of the top. Cover and cook on LOW all day. Correct seasoning. Should be thick, about halfway between soup and stew, and intensely beefy, and just a little hot.

            2. re: hippiechickinsing

              I have had bad luck with dried beans cooked on low. High is OK.

              1. re: Sharuf

                Good to know - I'm going to assume some tinkering will be required.

            3. I have to agree with the beef stew; it does the best when I am out for 10 hours. I have had some limited success with white meat chicken, but I have to nearly double the amount of chicken stock in the recipe to keep it moist for that long. Chili is another good one for a long cook, but I brown the meat first and I rarely have time to do that in the morning.

                1. re: carolinadawg

                  Hadn't thought of that (it's not something I make even the standard way), but definitely worth a try as it's the type of cut that would do well. Do you put carrots, potatoes etc in, and how much liquid if any?

                  1. re: julesrules

                    Yes, I put onions, carrots, potatoes in the bottom of the pot, brown the meat and put on top of the veggies, add seasoning and just a small amount of liquid (red wine, beef broth)...maybe 1/2 a cup or so. It seems to make lots of its own liquid.

                    1. re: carolinadawg

                      Is the wine ok without being reduced? Good to know!
                      Yes I find it's a very moist environment so you don't need as much liquid as you might think. Vegetables contribute liquid rather than requiring more to cook.

                      1. re: julesrules

                        I just pour the wine straight in the crockpot from the bottle...

                        1. re: carolinadawg

                          That's what I do with the wine, too. An easy go to meal- no "recipe" needed, and the results ate always delicious!

                    2. re: julesrules

                      We love pot roast in the crock pot. I usually brown the meat first- but I guess it is not necessary. I add water, S/p, a bit of Better than Bouillon (beef), garlic, tomato paste, red wine. I also cut an onion in half and throw it in- peel and all. ALso add a few stalks of celery and a few carrots . Let it go all day. So good. I take out the celery, onion and carrot and add a bit of butter, and then thicken with a slurry to make a great gravy. I like to cook my vegetables on the side, and serve with mashed potatoes . I think I may cook one this weekend!

                    3. re: carolinadawg

                      I second pot roast. I actually use a large tri-tip, brown it, set it on a bed of veg, deglaze the browning pan with a dark beer and pour it over the roast. Then top the roast with a can of chipotles in adobo. Smash them all over the top of the roast. Makes a great spicy roast but even better leftovers for tacos, enchiladas, filling for rellenos, even sandwiches.

                    4. Anything oxtail. Soup, braises, etc.

                      Anything tongue.

                      Geoduck. But not necessarily anything.