Kiss My Arsenal: Slow Cooker

So I haven’t written about kitchen tools in a few weeks, and my arsenal was feeling sadly un-kissed. So, it’s time to tackle yet another helpful kitchen gadget: the slow cooker. These are also known widely in the US by the brand name Crock Pot. Much like cast iron cookware, slow cookers are a bit of an heirloom item. If you own one, it’s probably because it was handed down to you by a friend or relative, or because you received it as a “rite of passage” gift (read: wedding).

The slow cooker usually consists of a porcelain inner container that fits inside a metal outer layer that contains the heating element. The lid, usually glass, helps trap heat, moisture, and pressure. Most crock pots have three settings (low, medium, high) and based on the length of cooking time, or the specifications of your recipe, you’ll use the appropriate heat setting. Generally, the inner component is easy to remove and clean after use.

Slow cooking lends itself nicely to lazy days at home or holidays; nothing’s better than the aroma of a slow-cooked meal filling your house. But busy professionals can make the slow cooker work for them as well. You can throw all ingredients in to the pot in the morning, set it on low, and come home to a finished dinner. Especially now as the temperatures are cooling down, this is a nice option for a chilly day. Just be sure that the recipe can accommodate such a long cook. The danger with slow cooking isn’t burning, but drying out.

The hallmark of a slow cooker is its low cooking temperature. You may have noticed in your stovetop cooking that putting something on a lower temperature for a longer amount of time creates a different result than fast, hot cooking. As someone who loves stir-frying, and its accompanying crispness, I resisted slow cooking at first. It just seemed like one-note, stewy, soft meat. But there’s a lot more to slow-cooking than making beef stew over and over again.

There are, in fact, entire cookbooks devoted to Crock Pot recipes. A quick glance at one will show that there is a lot of variety for dishes you can make with a slow cooker. You can bake with it. You can make sides and sauces with the slow cooker. You can even make hot drinks, like teas, ciders, and hot chocolate.

So, here’s a Crock Pot Recipe to try one of these cold, winter days”¦happy (slow) cooking! This recipe comes from Crock-Pot Best-Loved Slow Cooker Recipes (Best Loved Cookbooks)

Simple Shredded Pork Tacos

2 pounds boneless pork roast
1 cup salsa
1 can (4 ounces) chopped green chiles
½ teaspoon garlic salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
Flour or corn tortillas

(Optional toppings: salsa, sour cream, diced tomatoes, shredded cheese, shredded lettuce)

  1. Place roast, salsa, chilies, garlic salt and pepper in Crock Pot. Cover; cook on LOW 8 hours, or until meat is tender
  2. Remove pork from Crock Pot; shred with two forks. Serve on tortillas with sauce. Top as desired.


One reply on “Kiss My Arsenal: Slow Cooker”

Mmm, those tacos sound amazing. My favorite thing to make in the slow cooker is french dip beef in au jus (to die for). The worst thing I ever made was some kind of sour cream pork chop deal where the pork turned out really overcooked. Blech.

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