Posts Tagged With: slow cooker

Don’t Rush a Pig

 

Pork chops were on sale, so even though I didn’t have meat on my grocery list, I brought a package home with me.  Since there were six huge chops I separated them into zipper-seal bags and put them into the freezer. One morning I left two of the pork chops in the refrigerator so that they would thaw in time for dinner. A few recipes claim that you can prepare tasty pork chops in just ten minutes with only salt and pepper for seasoning, so I decided to see if it would work.

However, when my husband emailed me to see if he could help get anything ready for our evening meal, I googled to see if there were any interesting marinades. Ideas for “Summer pork” included fruity combinations as well as mustard-soy-worchestershire mixtures.  Joel mixed together the ingredients in a list that I emailed to him and when I got home from the office the pork had been absorbing the flavors for about an hour.  All I had to do was heat our stove-top griddle and throw the chops on.

Maybe I wasn’t patient enough. The pork chop did not want to let go of the griddle after cooking for five minutes on one side. I put a cover over the meat to see if capturing some moisture would help it release; no luck.  Eventually, I was able to force the pork chop off and flip it over, but when we cut into our pieces the flavor had not penetrated the meat. Also, it took several days of soaking and scrubbing to get the bits of burnt-on pork off my griddle.

Pork chops take two.

The next weekend, our grocery store’s flyer was advertising their “buy theirs get ours free” offer. One of the items was barbeque sauce. If you purchased a bottle of Sweet Baby Ray’s sauce they would give you a bottle of the grocery store brand for free. They hoped that you would compare the two and notice that their version was just as good as the “real” name brand product.  Sweet Baby Ray’s has quite a few interesting-sounding flavors to choose from, but I stuck with the classic regular one.

At first, I thought that I would just throw the rest of my frozen pork chops into the crockpot and let them cook until they were tender enough to shred for pulled pork sandwiches. I couldn’t remember if you were supposed to put the barbeque sauce in the whole time you were cooking the meat or if you were to wait and just mix it in at the end. So, I looked it up.

While looking, I ran across a recipe that cooked potatoes along with the meat. Cooking two-thirds of your meal in one slow cooker sounded like a good idea to me. The author(ess) suggested greasing the inside of the crockpot and layering sliced potatoes, sliced onion, pork chops and bacon. Barbecue sauce goes between the layers. You let these ingredients cook on the high setting for 4 hours. Then you are to add cheese for the last 10 minutes. I decided to keep things simple and leave out the bacon and cheese.

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The moisture from the pork drops to the bottom of the slow cooker, mixes with the barbeque sauce, and boils the potatoes. The liquid was a bit runny after the first 4 hours of cooking. But we didn’t eat it until the next day, and when I reheated the mixture it had thickened enough that I didn’t need to add any roux or cornstarch.  A bag of steamed peas added some color to the plate.

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We enjoyed the meal, but next time I might let the meat cook a bit longer, because I like fall-off-the-bone tender pork.

Categories: Food and drink, Pork, Potato, sauces & condiments | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Crockpot French Onion Soup

We had invited a group of friends over to taste apples and cheese. While that combination could be filling, I wanted to make sure that we had something of a complete meal when all was said in done, so I promised soup for anyone who might still be hungry.  Cheese was a source of protein, so a vegetarian soup would round out  things. Toasted cheese sandwiches paired with tomato soup is a classic combination and could have worked well. However, we decided on French Onion Soup.

A traditional recipe will tell you that you need to start off by sauteing your sliced onions.  This would mean standing over a hot stove and stirring the vegetables for 25 to 20 minutes, then adding your liquids and letting the soup simmer to develop the flavors.

With a heat advisory in effect, and only one window air conditioning unit, any action that might increase the temperature of the inside of our apartment was not encouraged. That in mind, I headed to the bookshelf to see if there might be a way to prepare French Onion Soup in a crockpot.

After scanning the table of contents and index pages of several cookbooks, I figured out the basic technique for the slow-cooking part and got some ideas of how to make it taste better by adding bay leaf as well as pouring in some white and Marsala cooking wines in the last few minutes.

FRENCH ONION SOUP

Ingredients:

3 cups sliced onion + 3 T softened butter

3 T flour

1 T Worcestershire + 1 t sugar + 1/4 t pepper

7 c beef broth

2-3 bay leaves

1 c white cooking wine

2 T Marsala cooking wine

Instructions:

Put the sliced onion and the butter into your crockpot. Toss them together, so that the onion rings separate and the butter coats most of them.  Set the crockpot on high. Place the cover on, and let the onions cook for 30-35 minutes.

Add the flour to the mixture, tossing the onions with a fork so that the flour is distributed somewhat evenly.

In a separate bowl, combine the Worcestershire, sugar, and pepper. Pour this over the onion-flour mixture. Add the beef broth. Place the bay leaves on top. Place the cover back on, and let the soup cook: 3-4 hours on high or 7-8 hours on low.  In the last 10 minutes, add the cup of white cooking wine. In the last 5 minutes, stir in the Marsala cooking wine.

French Onion Soup is tasty with a slice of crusty bread floating on top, which has cheese that has been broiled, but if it is a hot day, just slices of store-bought bread and a bowl of shredded cheese will also work out well.

After Tasting Apples & Cheese

 

 

 

 

Categories: Food and drink, Soup, Tasting, Vegetables | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Crockpot Cowboy Stew

It seemed a good idea to have something prepared in case we invited people over after church on Sunday night. People stand between the pews and talk for even an hour after the service has ended. Sometimes we get hungry and have to decide whether to abandon the conversation or to invite friends to continue it over something to eat.

For these sort of situations a crockpot meal is a good option. You can prepare it ahead of time, and the dish isn’t likely to be over or under done when you come home.

Also, the heat and humidity have been high these past few weeks, so it was best not to fry, boil, or bake something for guests.

The following recipe explains what I put together on Sunday afternoon.  We did stay talking to people after church, but we didn’t end up inviting anyone over. Alas. It might have been too spicy for most folks.  We like it a lot, though. It is spicy, but the flavor of the beef and the red wine still come through. Leftovers served well for lunch the next day.

IMG_3173Cowboy Stew

serves 4-5

INGREDIENTS

1 large onion, sliced
1 large jalapeno, thinly sliced
1 T garlic, minced

1 lb. Aldi beef for carne picada
2 T flour
1 T chili powder
Valentina’s fruit seasoning (citrusy chile flakes)
1/4 t dried oregano flakes

14.5 oz can Aldi salsa-style fire roasted tomatoes

1/2 c red wine
1 beef boullion cube + 1 c water
2 T tomato paste

2 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and cut into 1-inch slices (2 cups)

INSTRUCTIONS

Place the onion, jalapeno, and garlic in the bottom of the crockpot. In a separate bowl or large plastic bag, mix the beef with the flour, chili powder, Valentina’s seasoning, and oregano. Toss these ingredients until the beef is coated. Put this beef mixture on top of the vegetables in the crockpot.

Pour the tomatoes over the beef.

In a small dish, combine the red wine, beef boullion, and tomato paste.  Pour this into the crockpot. Do Not Stir.

Let the stew cook on High for  4 1/2 hrs.

Right before you are ready to serve the stew, fry the zucchini in oil or butter. Add the fried zucchini to the stew and stir it before ladeling it into dishes. If you prefer not to fry the zucchini, the recipe book actually said to just add it to the crockpot during the last 30 minutes of cooking.

Serve with sour cream.

First try I served with it arepas.  Could be good with mashed potatoes. The book recommended creamy polenta.

 

Based on a ecipe called Cowboy Stew Over Creamy Polenta from Heartland Cooking Crockery Favorites Traditional American Recipes  by Frances Towner Giet

 

Categories: beef, Food and drink, Meat, Soup | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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