Friday Bake Nights

Crock pot mayhem!: Adventures in slow cooking

This year I asked my secret santa (Thanks Christine!) for a slow cooker.

Since then, its been a whirlwind of serious crock pot cooking and creativity.

Hands down, convenience is a big plus factor. I can chop up pretty much anything I have on hand, not worry about measurements, turn the timer on and forget about it!

A lazy housewives solution to many a meal! (This one`s going to get me some heat) Because you know, 8 hours of free time simply isn`t enough to cook a decent meal for your family. I kid I kid, my mom was a housewife for a few years and I understand after a full day of screaming and obnoxious kids the last thing you want to do is slave away at stove when you`d much rather just let them starve into silence.

But, the results of any slow cook recipe is always oh-so-yummy-comfort-goodness. It cooks the food at such a low heat that you will never need to worry about burning anything or your meats coming out dry or overcooked. As long as you always add about a half to a full cup of liquid you will never need to worry.

My only fault with crock pot recipes is everything is so  darn WET. We are talking about alot of stews people, which although kind of boring has been great this winter. I love warm and hearty stews to melt away the chill.

Another not so great thing is the taste of chicken that`s been done in a slow cooker.

The first time I used the crock pot I made cream of mushroom chicken drumsticks with carrots, celery and potatoes. I used cayenne, black pepper and salt for seasoning. I kid you not, the result was delicious. The chicken meat practically fell off the bone.. but stewed chicken isn`t something I`d want all the time y’know? Gets kind of dull after awhile and let’s be honest roasted chicken skin is really the only reason most people eat chicken.I cooked this meal on low for about 4-5 hours.

The slow cooker is really more suited for red meats and not lean cuts of meat.

My second recipe I tried was a pork roast for my mom`s 64th birthday. She wanted to stay in this year so we decided to do a mini pot luck. Laura took care of the appetizers and sides, Johnny Lau got the cake and I handled the main.

The pork roast cost about $24 (it was a decent cut of meat from the butcher) and we had your typical root vegetables as a base and used the dry ranch dressing packet, salt, black pepper to garnish. Our liquid was half a cup of beef broth and 1 cup of water. Tip: half a cup of broth is more than enough, I forgot how much liquid comes out of a roast as it cooks. I had to skim some of the juice out as it cooked.I cooked it on high for about 4.5 hours.

Now I`m not a fan of red meat too much, but the fam loved the roast. It was pretty tender and done just right. I personally thought it could have cooked for less time for those of us who like more rare, but hey each to their own right?

My poor greedy dog.

Overall my tips for slow cooking are:

-pay attention to the amount of liquid(s) you are using, you might find you need less. Always go with less.

-line crockpot with root vegetables first and always

-leave a little space between your ingredients and the lid, allows for steam to form faster and food will come out less dry

-pay attention to the cooking time. I found that all of the recipes I followed my meals always ended up cooking faster than the amount of time specified. All crock pots are different (they shouldn`t be but are) so pay attention to your food and check (even though lifting the lid during cooking is a cardinal crock pot sin according to all slow cooker manuals because it messes with the temperature) DO IT. You`ll save yourself the soggy remorse of overdone food.

This all happened on non-fridays. LOL, but hey that’s ok.

Happy slow cooking!


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