have to admit, Ive never been a big crockpot user
fact, if I hadnt got married and received one as a gift,
I probably wouldnt even own a crockpot. However, after
several requests from our Glutenfreeda.com subscribers and
the need for instant gratification after a long day skiing,
I decided to dust off our crockpot and put it to work.
After playing around with our crockpot,
I discovered that slow cooking is great for a variety of reasons.
One, its fairly effortless. Just throw in your meats
and vegetables along with some liquid and let it go. At the
end of the day you have your meal all ready to go! Second,
it will make your house smell great. What can be better than
coming home from work (or play) and walking into a house filled
with the enticing aroma of a home-cooked meal!
Before you break out that crockpot, wed
like to offer some helpful tips to make your slow-cooking
experience even better:
To Brown or not to Brown?:
There is some debate as to whether browning
your meats before adding them to your slow-cooker is necessary.
There are some advantages to browning first but it is not
critical, unless you are cooking any ground meat. We did find
that browning meat first in a little oil will give it a more
appetizing color and adds more flavor in the long run. If
you are slow cooking chicken you can place the chicken on
a baking sheet or broiler pan after it has slow cooked and
put it under the broiler to brown the skin (as in our Asian
Crockpot Chicken) before serving.
Dont add too much liquid:
Slow cookers work on low heat with their
lids on, so as a result they loose hardly any liquid during
the cooking process. In fact, most often you will notice that
you have more liquid at the end of the cooking process. This
is because almost all food, especially meats and vegetables,
contain water. As they cook, they release water. Usually,
this water is released as steam and evaporated during the
cooking process but since the lid is on the crockpot there
is no where for the liquid to go, so it drips back onto the
food. The point to all of this is that if you are adapting
a stovetop or oven recipe to a crockpot recipe then decrease
the amount of liquid.
Seasonings & Spices:
Use whole spices sparingly in your crockpot.
Whole spices such as cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, allspice,
and peppercorns intensify as they cook in a crockpot. Either
limit the amount of whole spices or add them towards the end
of the cooking time. Ground spices on the other hand tend
to lose their flavor if allowed to simmer over a long period
of time. Its better to add this type of seasoning towards
the end of the cooking time (about the last two hours).
Speed up your slow cooker:
If you are really in a hurry we suggest
choosing another cooking method. However, you can reduce the
cooking time by half by increasing the heat from "low"
to "high" on your slow cooker without jeopardizing
the results. Food will not burn in a slow cooker because it
retains moisture so well and the heat is distributed evenly
around the sides an bottom of the pot. If you have a recipe
that calls for 10 hours of cooking time, you can safely cook
it for 5 hours on the "high" setting and still achieve
Our favorite crockpot dishes are the obvious
chili, pot roast and even spaghetti sauce, however
there are other great dishes that can be easily prepared in
your crockpot. This month we looked outside the "pot"
and developed some great tasting, not so traditional crockpot
dishes. We invite you to dust off your crockpot and get ready
to rediscover delicious slow cooking!
Crockpot Beef Bourguignon
- 1 cup Cabernet Sauvignon
- 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 1 Tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 whole clove
- 2 large garlic cloves, smashed
- 4 thick slices of gf bacon, diced
- 2 lbs. stewing beef, cut into 1/2 inch
- 2 stalks of celery, diced
- 2 carrots, diced
- 1 cup mushrooms, large mushrooms halved
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Place the wine, tomato paste, olive oil,
onion, thyme, bay leaf, whole clove, garlic and stewing beef
in a large zip-lock bag. Turn to coat and evenly distribute
contents. Refrigerate overnight.
Drain the meat, reserving the marinade.
In a large skillet, sauté the bacon until crisped;
transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Brown
the meat in the bacon fat. Transfer the beef, bacon, celery,
and carrots to the slow cooker. Pour the reserved marinade
over the contents of the slow cooker. Add the salt and freshly
ground black pepper and stir to incorporate. Cook on low for
8-10 hours. During the last hour of cooking add the mushrooms
to the pot, cover and continue to cook until the mushrooms
are tender. Adjust seasonings to taste with salt and freshly
ground black pepper. Serve.
Asian Crockpot Chicken
- 1 whole chicken, about 3 lbs., cut into
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1-1/2 Tablespoon ginger, minced
- 1/2 cup green onions, diced
- 1/2 cup gf soy sauce
- 1/4 cup sake
- 1/2 cup water
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup honey
Place the chicken pieces in a slow cooker.
Add the garlic, ginger, green onions, gf soy sauce, sake and
water. Stir to combine. Cover the pot and cook on low until
the chicken is tender, about 3-5 hours. Remove the chicken
from the slow cooker and transfer to a foil lined baking sheet.
Brush the chicken with honey. Broil the chicken until golden
on top. Turn the chicken pieces over, brush with more honey
and continue to broil until browned on both sides. Adjust
the seasonings of the sauce in the crockpot with salt and
freshly ground black pepper. Spoon the sauce over chicken