Crock Pot Cooking*

December 30, 2008 at 9:28 am | Posted in gastronomy, weekend | 4 Comments

About this time last year I made Tim go to Target and get me a Crock Pot/slow cooker. It was finally, truly winter — wet and cold every day — and I had started my internship, and I thought it would be all warm and homey to have the slow cooker simmering away while I was at work. However, at the time, I couldn’t really find any recipes that weren’t heavily meat-based and didn’t require some sort of pre-browning of said meat in the first place. Maybe I had an unattainable ideal for the slow cooker, but, in any event, the Crock Pot never found its way out of its packaging or off the top shelf in the kitchen.

This past Sunday I wanted to make chili. I wanted it to simmer on the stove all day without too much attention, and instead of bemoaning my lack of a Creuset or other heavy-bottomed pot, I was inspired to break out the Crock Pot. I browned some turkey and onions in a skillet and added them to the Crock Pot with chick peas, tomato sauce, canned tomatoes, and various spices, including unsweetened cocoa powder, cinnamon, cumin, oregano and, of course, chili powder. (The recipe was from Epicurious, here.) It was a bit too watery (the recipe called for stock/broth, which I’ll leave out next time; I’ll also switch out the tomato sauce for tomato paste), and it also lacked a certain kick. Jalapenos? Tabasco? I know people sometimes also use beer, but it would seem to me you’d need a regular pot so as to boil it off some. The result was certainly good, but not to-die-for, second-helping chili, like my friend Ellen’s (who is the true impetus behind the chili — ever since she made big pots of it for a Missouri football game party a few weeks ago, Tim has been bugging/begging me to make some), or my mom’s.

Anyway, the outcome of the chili aside, the Crock Pot didn’t make things noticeably more simple than just cooking chili in a regular pot (I still had to brown things, stir it occasionally). I suppose that, had it been a work day, because the temperature is lower, I could have started it in the morning and left it unattended all day (but with chili, half the fun is having it smell good on the stove all day, which is why I suppose it’s a perfect Sunday meal). So, in the end, I guess I’m rather unimpressed. Does anyone have any miraculous crock-pot recipes? My friend Katie swears she made a Beef Bourguignon in a Crock Pot once — but that seems a bit beyond my reach, since I’ve never even made a normal Beef Bourguignon.

*Does anyone remember “Good Morning Vietnam” when Robin Williams is talking about how hot it is, hot enough for some crotch-pot cooking? Every time I say the phrase “crock pot” I think of this scene, which my friend Colby and I used to find hilarious enough to go around quoting (probably terribly inaccurately).


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  1. I think the first time I heard about a crock pot was in “Ramona and Her Mother” – that part when the parents get into a fight over who was supposed to turn on the crock pot before leaving for work. I loved those books…

  2. Here’s one we’ve used in our crock pot, from memory as I’m at work without the ol’ notebook o’ recipes:

    Moroccan chicken tagine

    1 whole chicken, cut into eighths (you can just buy parts too, if you like, or use all chicken thighs. Just make sure to leave the bones/skin).

    * 1 medium onion, chopped (shallots work too)
    * 6 cloves garlic, chopped
    * 2 preserved lemon rinds (these are easy to make: pack a bunch of lemon quarters in salt and lemon juice and let ’em sit in the fridge for 2 weeks).
    * 1 tsp turmeric
    * 1 tsp cumin
    * 1 tsp saffron
    * 1 tsp smoked paprika
    * 1 tbsp chopped ginger root
    * 1/4 to 1/2 tsp ancho chili powder (or more if you like-a da spice)
    * 3/4 cup green olives
    * Some chicken broth
    * Salt, pepper, olive oil

    1 – Season the chix parts with salt and pepper to taste before the chop
    2 – Chop onion, garlic, ginger
    3 – Sear the chix parts in olive oil until the skin is brown and crispy
    4 – Cook the onion, garlic, ginger until onions are soft and translucent
    5 – Bung the lot of it (except the lemons and olives) into the cooker with enough chix broth to almost cover everything. Cook for about 2 hours or until the meat falls off the bone, adding in the lemons about an hour in and the olives with about 1/2 hour to go.
    6 – Don fez and enjoy.

  3. Thanks PE, for the recipe — I will try it!

  4. Just found this site–I don’t have a crockpot but I know you do now!

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