It’s super easy. It saves time. It cooks food while you yell at ignore play spend quality time with the kids. My crockpot is an improved version of what I had before in that it heats things so thoroughly so quickly that the “low” dial actually has the food ready by lunchtime.
I learned to improvise. It’s easy with this thing because it has a timer (!) and an automatic option to have it go to a warmer setting (!) when it’s done its slow cooking.
Cooking with the crockpot is so easy that I use it in the heat of the summer. Not often, but on those days when you just know from the moment the slobby drool of the toddler wakes you up in the morning, and a hair-curling scream follows from the other room, that making dinner in the late afternoon will be nothing but a lovely ordeal.
So I use my crockpot a lot. It’s easier during the fall and winter because we tend to eat slow-cooked meals more often than bbq-ed ones, but don’t let the seasons stop you.
I don’t use a recipe book anymore. I simply read any recipe I come across and then improvise with what I have in my kitchen at any given moment. Trust me, most of us have oodles of food you can throw into the crockpot at a moment’s notice and have a half-decent dinner that at least the adults will eat. (Peanut butter sandwiches or yoghurt with berries make a fine dinner for cranky kids, not that I approve of making separate meals for them after I spent 11 agonizing minutes planning the crockpot meal for those noisy little schmucks.)
But I digress.
So this morning while sipping coffee I open the pantry and see a jar of dried navy beans. Hm….those need soaking. Or cooking for who knows how long blah-di-blah. I open the fridge…oops, yesterday’s pork chops sitting on a plate, defrosted, and unable to be re-frozen. Below the counter the potatos look….a little soft. But not so squishy soft that they can’t be eaten anymore…
Fast forward to second cup of coffee and children munching on maple-syrup-drenched oatmeal.
Pour some navy beans in a pot (about half a cup or so), add at least double the amount of water, cover, and boil. This takes maybe two minutes.
Once it boils, turn off the stove, leave covered, and go deal with the sticky kids. Have a shower. Putter around with the dishes.
About an hour or so later (this is what I love about the crockpot, you don’t need to cook according to a scientific scenario), drain the beans. Put into the crockpot, add a few swirls of good quality olive oil, some sea salt, and some fresh pepper, and coat to cover all the beans.
Peel two nice cloves of garlic, put in the crockpot. Go out to your herb garden and snip off some fresh savory (EXCELLENT with beans). Use dried herbs or omit all together if you’re not the herby type.
Then I poured what was left of my white wine (less than half a cup) over the beans (you can use water or stock if you wish), covered the crockpot, turned it on low, and left the kitchen. This is at about 9ish (tot woke us up at 6:15 am).
By lunchtime, I stirred the beans a bit more, peeled a few potatos, cut them into quarters, and placed them on the beans. Then I seasoned the chops with sea salt, pepper and paprika, and placed them on top of the potatos. No need to stir the potatos with the beans….just leave it alone.
Sage leaves and more savory can be added now or later.
By mid afternoon you can turn the chops if you wish, but this is by no means necessary. I also found, with my efficient crockpot, that by then the liquid was boiling, and turned the low setting down to warmer. We still had a good 3 hours to go before supper and since the meat was cooked through I did not find it necessary to keep the heat up.
Note: it is extremely hard to overcook anything in a crockpot. You can taste things while it’s cooking to give you a sense of measurement, but I would not recommend you open the lid every 20 minutes. The whole point of the crockpot cooking is to keep all the humidity and flavour inside the pot.
Dinner was a flash. Especially because by the time DH came home the neighbours were here and the kids were playing in every room of the house. It didn’t matter. Dinner was ready. All we needed was plates and spoons.
AND, the kids ate at least some of it. Interestingly, the tastiest part of it was the beans, in my opinion, yet it was the one thing they both left behind.
And UNFORTUNATELY they added ketchup to their potatos. But whatever.
For us, it was delish.