Slow Cooking

The Eaters Write

Trish Hooper sends this easy recipe for round steak in her slow cooker. I am always impressed by our members’ cooking skills. Check this out, and notice the subtleties (toss with flour; roasted red peppers; pepper jelly).

“JVF Round Steak, cut into 1/4 slices, sautéed after toss with flour and Creole seasoning, browned. Into crockpot with sliced onions , roasted red peppers, garlic powder, thyme, onion & pepper jelly, 2 cups + hen broth. Cook 10 hrs. slow cooker. Tender, succulent and yum.”
— Trish Hooper

I would add that you could change cooking time to less than an hour with the same recipe in a pressure cooker. But slow cookers are a blessing and perfect for overnight cooking for the next day’s dinner.

The Eaters Write

You recently inquired about how to cook pork or beef Osso Buco. Two choices – like a pot roast (page 19 of the cookbook) or make a soup starting with a stock (page 27). In either case, start with a mirepoix (see “notch it up” at page 19). If it’s like pot roast, add a marinara sauce at the end and serve over rice or pasta. If a soup, brown the meat first and then use in a stock. By the time the meat is tender and the broth reduced, add your vegs for a beef or pork vegetable soup.

This is high living, folks!

Braise it!

There are several very muscular pieces of meat on the beeve which can only be rendered chewable if cooked low and slow in a covered or wrapped and moist cooking environment. These cuts include the brisket and all roasts. The good news is this: once you understand the approach, these are also the most nutritious and the tastiest of the meats. It is always the case that the most used muscles are also the best in all respects. Why is that? Because they have the most blood and oxygen flowing through them. To use an analogy, the chicken breast is the least flavorful cut on the chicken, the legs and thighs the most flavorful (and also most nutritious).

So let’s discuss cooking a brisket as an example. As with any of the cuts, there are many ways to achieve the result you are looking for, but many of us want to impart a smokey flavor to the brisket and so we take it to the grill. Nothing wrong with that except you must start the brisket, uncovered at the start, away from the heat source. (Think coals and damp wood chips on one side, brisket on the other side of the pit.) Pour the smoke to it for say 30-45 minutes, then pull it off and wrap it in 3 layers of foil that includes vegetables that will add moisture as it cooks – onions, potatoes, carrots are some of those candidates. But kale and cabbage are others. Add water or stock to get the steam started, place the brisket on top of the vegs, wrap it up tight, and return it to cooler side. Don’t even look at it for the next 2 hours. If it’s not fork tender by then, re-wrap it and leave it until it falls apart to the touch. Plus you have these wonderful vegs to go with it. Or forget all that, put it in your slow cooker and be done with it.

Happy cooking.

The Customers Cook

Maria Dunn believes she has discovered a new and easy seasoning for pot roast in the crock pot - be it beef or pork. Heinz Chili Sauce. If you are unfamiliar with chili sauce, it’s just a spiced up ketchup, always found near that item on the shelf. Maria says to load the crock pot in this order: onion, carrots, potatoes, turnips, celery, roast and a bottle of chili sauce. No other seasoning required although I would salt the vegetables and meat to compliment a fairly sweet pot roast. Cook until tender. Serve with french bread for dipping. 
Honi and I liked it and it’s simple.

Recipe: Whole Chicken with Herbs in A Slow Cooker

Many if not all of you have expressed concern about the blandness of our chickens. We have noticed the same thing, though on a hit and miss basis. Do not know what is going on but we are working the problem with our sub-farmer. In the meantime, your fellow member, Lolita, has discovered chicken Nirvana with this recipe. I would suggest only one modification: Salt the bird with Kosher well before cooking — four hours is good, twelve is better.

From Lolita, a Big Fat Hen recipe found, tested and loved.

Lolita's Whole Chicken with Herbs in A Slow Cooker

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 lb.  whole chicken, giblets removed
  • 3 onions, halved, then each half cut in quarters
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 3 sprigs fresh sage
  • 9 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce

Directions:

  1. Spray or grease inside of slow cooker.  Scatter 2 of the cut onions over the bottom, separating the onion layers.  Add 2 garlic cloves, along with 1 rosemary sprig.  1 sage sprig, 3 thyme sprigs.  Place chicken inside slow cooker with legs and open cavity pointed up.  Sprinkle black pepper inside chicken cavity and stuff in 1 rosemary sprig, 1 sage sprig, 3 thyme sprigs, 2 garlic cloves, and the remaining cut onion; pour soy sauce into chicken cavity.  (Some soy sauce will run out of the chicken into the slow cooker, and some will remain inside chicken to flavor it from the inside.) Place chicken breast side down, cover, and cook on low for 5-6 hours until instant read thermometer inserted in thickest part of breast meat registers 165 degrees.  Do not overcook chicken, in order to avoid dry, stringy texture.
  2. Remove chicken to platter with breast side up, cover with foil, let rest for 15-30 minutes to allow juices to settle in meat.
  3. Meanwhile, use slotted spoon to remove caramelized onions; set aside.  Pour broth the remains in bottom of slow cooker through wire mesh strainer to remove solids.  Allow liquid to settle and spoon off fat (or use a grease separator).  Keep warm to serve with chicken.  Strained broth may also be used to make thickened gravy, if desired.  May be diluted with an equal amount of additional chicken broth, if more volume is needed.
  4. Cut chicken into pieces and arrange on platter, spoon onions over top, and ladle on warmed broth or serve with gravy.  Salt chicken to taste, if necessary.
  5. Chicken may also be shredded or chopped, refrigerated or frozen, for use in other recipes.

My Favorite Meal

Long time subscribers have heard my raves about pot roast before. And while it takes some time on the front end, it is almost care-free cooking after that. Most of your time is spent doing something else because it is a slow cook method that requires little attention once the pot is ready to cook. And when it is ready, you get a balanced meal all in one pot — you’re eating like Thomas Jefferson. Protein, fat, vegetables and a fruit. And it is even better after spending 24 hours in the fridge, so you can make it on a weekend and have several meals during the coming
week. One last advantage — it works for beef or pork roast.

I saw a couple of recipe enhancements recently that I pass on here. The first is dusting your roast with flour before browning it in the pot (this step follows the sauteeing of your vegetables). The other was adding red wine and cognac (or any brandy) to your chicken stock before starting the slow cooking stage. So here’s the outline: sauté your chunky carrots, celery, bell pepper, garlic and potatoes (I add mushrooms too), remove them, dust your roast, brown it, throw the vegs back in, add a ½ cup of chicken stock, a ½ cup of wine, and 1/4 cup of cognac, bring to a simmer, lower the heat and cook until fork tender. I sometimes thicken the gravy with a butter roux and serve the whole dish over wild and brown rice, your choice. The harmony of vegetables, meat and wine brings unsurpassed dining to your family table. Builds those family bonds with food from the kitchen to the table. It’s a good thing.