Just Merveilleux

Life at № 42

Slow cooker, anyone?

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I finally got one. It should be delivered today. What convinced me was a dish at one of the Christmas parties we went to- and the way the hostess described just putting everything in the pot and then letting it cook for eight hours. Never lifting the lid, no poking or prodding. As I cook every day, sometimes twice a day, like a 1950’s suburban housewife, the concept is terribly appealing. Now I’m looking for ideas of what to actually make in it which is light and low cholesterol (because of Mike, who btw now has excellent cholesterol with no pills, just a change in diet.) Any ideas?

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44 comments on “Slow cooker, anyone?

  1. roughseasinthemed
    January 6, 2016

    Gah! Horrible things. Just as easy to put something in on low on the range.

    Whatever you do, don’t attempt vegetarian dishes in there. Vile. Truly vile. You could have had mine. Only used it twice when we were waiting for the new cooker to be delivered. Gave up on the third night and went out to Quattro Stagioni.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Mr. Merveilleux
      January 6, 2016

      How about beans??? I read they were good for that…

      Like

      • roughseasinthemed
        January 6, 2016

        Do you mean dried beans, ie pulses, garbanzos etc? No. Big no. The only thing they will cook in is a pressure cooker. The heat is not high enough in a slow cooker. Even conventional cooking of pulses is feeble compared to pressure cookers. Also, the Spanish-style ones are better, they have a screwy down knob in the middle to exert the pressure rather than the British-style Prestige ones which have a click-seal type thing. All you ever needed to know about pressure cookers …

        Slow cookers are better for beef casseroles and the like, maybe chicken. Don’t know. Not my field any more. Just, there are better ways to cook 😀

        I also cook twice a day. Apart from working in an office, I always have done.

        Liked by 1 person

    • acflory
      January 6, 2016

      I dislike mine too. Bought it to make chicken soup/consomme which we eat often and…it don’t cook soup apparently, not unless you bring the soup to the boil on the stove /first/. Skim off the muck and then pour it into the slow cooker to simmer for the rest of the day. To me, that’s too much effort for too little gain.
      If anyone has a decent recipe I’d love to know about it. 😦

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mr. Merveilleux
        January 6, 2016

        Give me a week or two. I really love low temperature cooking- so I’m sure I’ll find a way to make it work!

        Like

      • acflory
        January 6, 2016

        You’re on! It’d be great to have some decent recipes for once I start back at work. I warn you though, it’ll be a challenge.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. carmen
    January 6, 2016

    I cannot imagine being WITHOUT a slow cooker! I’ve had many over the years – right now I have three. . (different sizes). 🙂 In fact, I just sat down after putting a meal in for tonight. . stop reading, rough seas -it was a pork roast. 🙂 Great for mulling wine or apple cider, keeping gravy hot, and I always use it for baked beans.

    Light and low cholesterol? Soups are always a good bet; try our friend google. .

    Liked by 3 people

    • Mr. Merveilleux
      January 6, 2016

      What’s your star slow-cooker dish? I can adapt most things to low cholesterol versions.

      Like

    • roughseasinthemed
      January 6, 2016

      Are you seriously saying you can cook dried haricot beans in there? How many days does it take?

      Like

      • Mr. Merveilleux
        January 6, 2016

        I imagine if they’re soaked overnight, that might work?

        Like

      • roughseasinthemed
        January 6, 2016

        No. You soak them overnight anyway. Or, use boiling water and an hour’s soak as an emergency measure. Works for haricot ok, not so good for red, black, pinto, garbanzos, butter beans. Also depends on turnover in shops and how old they are.

        For example, I cook pinto and haricot for around 20 mins in pressure cooker, garbs and butter 35/40. But, turnover of legumes is fast in our village coz we’re all poor 🙂

        Even veg took years in the slow cooker. Let alone beans. And, that stewed yuk sealed-in taste was evil.

        Buy a pressure cooker!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Hariod Brawn
    January 6, 2016

    I think Kate’s right; I find the Rayburn (an Aga thingy) is far superior to the nasty electric slow cooker I once had – I haven’t the faintest idea why that should be.

    Like

    • Mr. Merveilleux
      January 6, 2016

      And where am I supposed to put a Rayburn? 😛

      Like

      • Hariod Brawn
        January 6, 2016

        You should’ve thought of that when you designed your kitchen – go and sit on the naughty step you impulsive thing you!

        Liked by 1 person

      • roughseasinthemed
        January 6, 2016

        I was thinking you had one, but is it a woodburning stove I’m thinking of? Some of those cook too.

        Like

      • Mr. Merveilleux
        January 6, 2016

        Burley woodburning stove.

        Like

    • roughseasinthemed
      January 6, 2016

      The one thing I missed for years when we left the UK. Partner was brought up with one, his father worked in the Kent coalfields, so free coal. When we bought a house with an obvious range space, he seduced me into one. I fell in love immediately. Best way of cooking ever. Had to watch it with the bread though as there was no smell to warn me it was ready!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hariod Brawn
        January 6, 2016

        Yes, best way of cooking ever and also a fantastic investment as they’re indestructible and last a lifetime – several actually. Mine’s been converted to oil-fired so it’s on ’round the clock – and oil’s cheap as chips at the mo! I’m ruining the plant single-handedly, I know, but the walls of this place are two feet thick and sat on bare earth here in the damp Somerset Levels yet the Rayburn keeps it toasty dry. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • roughseasinthemed
        January 6, 2016

        Actually we bought a flawed model. It went off the market shortly after. We had endless engineers out to sort the ‘problem’. Can’t remember what it was now, but it repeatedly stuffed up. It was gas and clever, but too clever. One engineer told us the basic oil-fired one would have been better … Hey, but when it worked, it was great. I’d probably, hypothetically, go the build your own Aga route and just heat the bathroom off it. We always live in the kitchen anyway.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hariod Brawn
        January 6, 2016

        A kitchen dweller too am I, mainly to be near to my beloved, warm friend. Mind you, I have an electric pump attached to it and so it can shoot hot water into radiators or the bath on demand, largely unnecessarily this winter though, as far as the rads go. Some of the early burner designs were a bit flaky, yes, but as I understand it from Fausto, my servicing man, all can be converted or swapped for better designs. Mine used to be solid fuel for example, so when the Middle East goes belly up and the oil dries up with it, I can happily switch back!

        Like

      • roughseasinthemed
        January 6, 2016

        Ah. Ours heated everywhere. Well, when it worked. Irrelevant in a way, as we sat in the kitchen, had an open fire in the sitting room, and I refused heating in the bedroom. But, they should be a compulsory installation with all houses. As I guess in olden days, ranges were. The equivalent of today’s microwave.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. john zande
    January 6, 2016

    Polynesian babies, you heathen!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. docatheist
    January 6, 2016

    My favorite crock pot recipe is corned beef and cabbage, starting with a plain, very lean flank thing. This is my recipe, as the only corned beef I could find for cooking it came in huge, very fatty pieces about two feet long. Googling, I found out what spices were required, how the meat was supposed to be marinated in them in the fridge for weeks, and remembered how I once got around that long term issue to create the tastiest, fall-off-the-beef-bone ribs ever. So, I’ll give you both recipes. At the very least, they are food for thought, as anything can be modified, right?

    Liked by 1 person

    • docatheist
      January 6, 2016

      First, the ribs: I didn’t use a crock pot, but I might as well have. The intent was to make barbecued beef ribs in a kitchen with only a stove and a five gallon pot. When the ribs were still terribly tough after a day of cooking, I poured in some red wine. Presto! In less than an hour, they were deliciously, delicately ready to fall off the bone! I cooked down all the water and juices that had accumulated, then added KC Masterpiece’s original barbecue sauce, let that simmer for awhile, and had ribs to rival any restaurant.

      Oh, I forgot: Since the first day of cooking took so long, the pot got refrigerated overnight. That let me skim off the fat that had melted off meat and bone into the broth.

      You could skip the first day of cooking, boil the ribs with wine for an hour or two, cool, refrigerate, skim fat, slow cook down the broth, add the barbecue sauce, simmer a little longer, and enjoy.

      Liked by 1 person

      • carmen
        January 6, 2016

        Doc, you’ve reminded me about my ‘signature’ dish in the slow cooker – honey garlic ribs. . Mr. M, I think you can google this. .
        To prepare the ribs, they are microwaved -with 1/2 c vinegar and enough water to cover the ribs- for about 20 minutes, drain, then put 1/2 c brown sugar, 1/2 honey, 4 T light soy sauce, 1/3 c beef broth, 3 cloves garlic, crushed and 3 T cornstarch (mixed with the brown sugar, then add a little water to get a paste, then add to the rest of the mixture) All this goes in slow cooker on low for the day. I’d check it after about 6 hours to see if the sauce is getting thick – you might have to put it on high to ‘bring it along’.
        Now, I must add that when I was in Australia, I found that the slow cookers there (I tried two of them) cook faster than the ones I have at home. . .mine are older. (like me) So I’m not sure if slow cookers are made differently in different parts of the world (?) At any rate, what I like best about the slow cookers I’ve had, is that meat cooked in them just tenderizes better. I’ve dreamed about having an Aga for year, though – one never sees them around here; only in magazines. . sigh. .

        Liked by 2 people

      • docatheist
        January 6, 2016

        That sounds delicious!

        Like

    • docatheist
      January 6, 2016

      Now, the corned beef and cabbage — and potatoes and carrots:

      The trick to this turned out too simple. Ball Canning Company, maker of Ball canning jars, sells a little jar of “pickling spices.” I found it at WalMart for some $3. Reading the label, I found it contained all the very many spices required and individually listed in all the corned beef recipes I’d found online! So, instead of buying, measuring, and storing what was left of them all, I took the delicious shortcut of using Ball Pickling Spice.

      Another trick was to put about a tablespoon or more into a teapot-sized tea bomb, rather than wrap the spice mixture in cheese cloth.

      I put the tea bomb in the bottom of the crock pot. The flank steak or roast or whatever it was called sat on top, holding it down. That flank thing was square, about 8 inches by 8 inches, if I recall correctly, and was flexible enough to fit in and still be covered by water.

      To the water, I added some of that excellent beef tenderizer: red wine.

      After three and a half hours, the meat was done. I removed it, put it into a serving dish, and set it aside. (You could put it in the oven, without turning the oven on. I put mine in the microwave — also without turning it on. This kept it warm enough.)

      Into the pot I put a few large, cleaned but not cut (except as needed to fit the pot) carrots. On top of them, I put a cleaned and simply quartered head of cabbage. The cabbage was quartered through its stem and placed in the pot stem down, so the hardest to cook part of it got the most cooking done.

      In the five minutes or so that the cabbage needed to cook and absorb all that delicious corned beef flavor, I cleaned the potatoes, cut them into smaller bits, and microwaved them about 3 minutes, so they were half done and very porous — ready to take up the pot’s flavor quickly. The cabbage came out, the potatoes went in, and a few short minutes later, they and the carrots were all done.

      The vegetables — cleaning and cooking by turns — took about half an hour, so in four hours, I’d made the best corned beef I’d ever tasted (and, as with most cooks, I don’t usually care for my own results), plus all the vegetables. I fed four adults and two hungry, half grown kids, that evening. The meat disappeared. The vegetables and broth were so abundant, I had a delicious soup for two or three more days.

      And the meat was so very lean to begin with, there wasn’t enough fat to skim off the top, ever.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Mr. Merveilleux
      January 6, 2016

      Read through both and love the sound of them. I’ll be trying them next week! Thanks 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • docatheist
        January 6, 2016

        By the way, one correction: I finally remembered: it was a brisket, not a flank thingy. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  6. carmen
    January 6, 2016

    Doc – great tip about the pickling spices. . . 🙂 I’ll do that next time I make corned beef and cabbage. (around these parts, we refer to that dish as “Jiggs Dinner” – our Newfoundland friends call it that)

    Liked by 2 people

  7. karenjane
    January 6, 2016

    I love my slow cooker – I often use it for cooking chicken, using water & herbs & a few things like carrots. Also beef casseroles…use whatever sauce you like, I usually add what’s handy in the pantry or fridge. I also make delicious stock using bones/chicken carcass, as although it takes longer than using a saucepan, the flavour develosp better I find.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mr. Merveilleux
      January 6, 2016

      I love low temperature food/cooking, so a slow cooker seems like the perfect thing for me 🙂 what sort of timing are we talking about for chicken?

      Like

      • karenjane
        January 6, 2016

        For chicken I uslally allowed 5-7 hours, though if you used a meat thermometer to check if the chicken was cooked, you could probably get away with less time. I like preparing food in the morning, putting it in slow cooker, then forgetting about it for hours, leaving me free to do nice things like reading or sitting in the garden.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Mr. Merveilleux
        January 6, 2016

        That’s the plan!

        Like

  8. Sirius Bizinus
    January 6, 2016

    Slow cookers are great for cooking boneless chicken breasts without drying them out. I usually use the slow cooker my family has to make pulled chicken with some cream cheese and salsa, cooked for about 4 hours. Also, a Jewish friend of mine in law school made the best Jack Daniels pulled pork, but he never shared the recipe with anyone.

    Since you’re looking for low cholesterol, you could just go with chicken and spices; I’ve heard garlic can help lower certain types of cholesterol. You can use a wine to help create a stock, and just let the slow cooker slowly combine the flavors.

    Liked by 2 people

    • karenjane
      January 6, 2016

      I’ve done pulled pork too, using a meaty shoulder joint, (the last time I did it, the pork was far too fatty & disintegrated) – 6 hours on low, then a final blast in a hot oven to make the fat crispy.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. I never used one but I would think they would be good for the Indian food you are fond of.

    Liked by 1 person

    • karenjane
      January 6, 2016

      I forgot about curry – I do that in mine too (sometimes using a bought sauce if I’m feeling especially lazy). I pre-brown onions & spices on the hob, then everything goes into the slow cooker.

      All this talking about food is making me very hungry…I only had raw veggies for dinner.

      Liked by 2 people

  10. Curious and Curiouser
    January 7, 2016

    I love ours, though I don’t find it an Australian summer thing. Yes to the curries – lots of time for flavours to infuse. I will dig out our vege slow cooker recipes if wanted. It’s also great for doing stock & we eat a lot of soup in winter

    Like

  11. wcs
    January 7, 2016

    Oh, so many comments. We have one similar to the one in your photo. We use it and like it. Like any other appliance, you have to learn what it’s good for, how it works well, and how it doesn’t. If it doesn’t have an internal programmable timer, adding a timer between the plug and the wall outlet is a good idea. That way you can have the thing come on at 3 or 4 in the morning rather than run all night, depending on what your making in it.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Liz
    January 9, 2016

    Cuban chicken:
    1 medium onion, thinly sliced
    4 tsp chopped garlic
    8 each chicken drumsticks and thighs, no skin (boneless is easiest)
    1/4 cup of lime juice
    1/4 cup orange juice
    2 tsp ground cumin
    1/2 tsp paprika
    salt and pepper to taste
    (optional cilantro)

    Place onion and garlic on the slow cooker, arrange chicken on top. Stir the juices and other ingredients (except cilantro) in a measuring cup and pour over the chicken.
    Cook on low about 5 to 8 hours until it’s all cooked through.

    I usually double this for larger dinners, it’s great served with rice or bread or pretty much anything.
    Also, I recommend crock pot liners for easy cleanup!

    🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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