I LOVE my slowcooker. I bought a 6 quart oval Rival Smart Pot (similar to the one in the picture above) a few years ago on sale for $19.99. It was quite a good bargain that I just couldn’t pass up. But after I got it home, it sat for about a year or so, unused and collecting dust in the cupboard. I usually made things in a dutch oven and they turned out very well, so I didn’t see the point in using it.
Then I started working weird hours during the winter. I longed to come home to a nice, comforting, hot meal, usually something braised, like pot roast. I would have also liked to have come home to the house cleaned, but I guess I’d need to have another wife for myself for that to happen. And while I don’t think Grant would be to opposed to that idea, I didn’t see it happening in the forseeable future.
So I then remembered my slowcooker. Ding! A lightbulb went off. Or it could have been the microwave with my pathetic frozen dinner. Not really sure which. Anyway, I don’t feel comfortable leaving the house with food in a low oven (probably the insurance agent in me), but I don’t mind the slowcooker being on during the day. I started with a pot roast. Grant really loves my pot roast, so this was going to be a true test of the slowcooker’s abilities. I didn’t just dump things into the slowcooker and leave it (although I do have quite a few recipes I do that with now). I dredged the roast in flour and browned it in a skillet. After that, I softened some chopped onions and garlic (cloves cut into quarters) in the same pan and deglazed with a little red wine. I threw that into the slowcooker with some carrots, potatoes and rutabega (we call it turnip in Atlantic Canada, not really sure why. This threw me off when I went to culinary school in Vermont. That and American Cheese. Don’t get me started on that!). I added some beef stock, ketchup (this works suprisingly well to brighten the flavours), a few bay leaves, salt, pepper and some fresh nutmeg. I find that I have to reduce the liquid when converting a recipe for the slowcooker as it won’t evaporate or reduce as much. The flour in the dredge did help to thicken it a bit, but I did have to use a cornstarch slurry to tighten the braising liquid to the desired consistency.
It was delicious. It was almost as good as my regular dutch oven version. The meat was so tender and moist and the sauce was amazing. I sopped it up with some warmed rolls and swooned. I then tried some stews and chilis and started scouring the web for more recipes, which is where I found A Year of Slow Cooking. This blog has TONS of recipes for the slow cooker and I’ve found quite a few to be very tasty. I’ve also found some other slow cooker recipes elsewhere on the interwebs. One of the regulars in my house is pulled pork. This is not true barbeque in any sense of the term, but it is pretty freakin’ tasty.
You take a pork butt/shoulder roast (why do they call the shoulder roast a butt? I guess because it butts up against stuff? One of life’s mysteries…). These are pretty cheap and you’ll have lunch all week. And snacks. Hell, I’d eat this for breakfast if my heart wouldn’t fail from all of the saturated fat. But I would die happy, dammit! Huge and happy. Huge enough that in order to get to the hospital, I would have to have a wall in my house knocked down and I’d then have to be lifted with a crane into the back of a flatbed truck, with Richard Simmons crying and telling me that I didn’t have to be alone anymore. But I’m not alone! I have my sammiches! And you’ll have to pry them from my greasy, sauce stained fingers!
Where was I? Oh, right. You then throw a couple of onions sliced into large chunks into the pot, put the meat on top and pack on a few tablespoons of brown sugar. Then take some worchest-whatever sauce and shake it all over the meat and onions. You’ll want a little pooling on the bottom of the pot. Cook on low for about 4-6 hours. After it’s cooked, drain off excessive fat, shred the meat with two forks and douse in BBQ sauce. Throw back in the cooker for about 30 minutes or so on low. Eat it on a bun with coleslaw and try not to weep at the joy of tender strings of pork slathered in sauce. You will get this all over your chin, so have plenty of napkins at the ready.
Check out A Year of Slowcooking for some other great recipes and break out your slowcookers! When you walk in the door at night, you can imagine that second wife with an apron on, dinner on the table and a drink in her hand, the ice cubes tinkling ever so gently in the glass. Ahhh.