Three slow-cooker recipes to try now As the leaves change, do you crave comfort food like stew and chili, but feel too swamped to stand at the stove? Then these slow-cooker recipes are for you.
“It’s a super-convenient way to get the family around the dinner table,” said Justin West of What a Crock Meals to Go. “My favorite dish is probably our New Orleans braised beef or our firecracker chicken.”
His wife first enjoyed the ease of a slow cooker while expecting their first child. They later launched a family business, selling ready-to-slow-cook meals in Brookhaven, Booths Corner and Chestnut Hill.
“There’s literally no work — a pair of scissors and a Crock-Pot,” West explained. “About 30-percent of the menu is her grandmother’s recipes.”
Author and journalist Anupy Singla credits her mother with inspiring “The Indian Slow Cooker,” the first of three cookbooks.
“She toiled for years, experimenting,” said Singla, born in India and raised in Montgomery County. “Indian food is so predisposed to slow cooking.”
A family favorite: rajmah, “our version of red beans and rice.”
“Another one of my favorites is the chicken curry,” she added. “… And for dessert, I love the rice pudding because it’s so simple to make and, at the same time, a little different because we use cardamom.”
For breakfast, she savors steel-cut oats, which are “amazing coming out of the Crock-Pot.”
“Anything that really cooks low and slow, you can save yourself time in the slow cooker,” agreed personal chef Emily Scott of West Chester, aka The Wildflower Chef. “It’s just so much less stress. Nothing is going to completely burn and stick to the bottom.”
Her repertoire includes vegan black bean soup, chicken marsala and autumn pork stew with bell peppers, raisins and winter squash.
“You can sneak tons of nutrient-rich vegetables and legumes into these meals!” Scott described. “Just because it’s cozy and warm doesn’t necessarily mean it’s heavy.”
“It can be light caloriewise.”
Autumn Pork Stew
Servings: 8 to 10
1 tablespoon organic sunflower oil
2 pounds organic pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes, trimmed of large pieces of fat Salt, to taste Black pepper, to taste 1 medium onion, large dice
2 ribs celery, large dice
1 green bell pepper, large dice
1 yellow bell pepper, large dice 1 sweet apple, large dice 4 cups winter squash, medium dice (delicata and butternut both work well here) ½ cup golden raisins 1 teaspoon dried sage 1 teaspoon dried thyme 1 teaspoon garlic powder 1 teaspoon onion powder 6 cups chicken broth, vegetable broth or water ¾ cup barley Apple cider vinegar, to taste
Fresh parsley, chopped
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to the pan. Season the pork with salt and pepper. Once oil is hot, sear the pork on all sides. (If you’re short on time, simply skip this step and omit the oil.) Transfer the meat to your slow cooker. Add all remaining ingredients up to and including the barley and stir well. Cook on low for 5 to 7 hours. Before serving, season to taste with vinegar, salt and pepper. (The vinegar brings out the sweetness of the squash and cuts the richness of the pork. Try adding it 1 teaspoon at a time until you find the right balance.) Serve topped with freshly chopped parsley.
RECIPE COURTESY OF THE WILDFLOWER CHEF
Traditional Chicken Curry
When most people think of Indian food, the first dish that comes to mind is a good chicken curry. Because I never ate this dish growing up, I relied on my husband’s childhood version for this recipe. He says the best chicken curry is made with a rich sauce and no vegetables. Though many recipes call for chopped cauliflower or carrots, I’ve tried to remain true to his tastes for this recipe.
Slow cooker size: 5-quart/ Cooking time: 8 hours on low/Yield: 6 to 8 servings
3 pounds skinless whole chicken, cut in about 8 pieces including the breast, legs, and wings (boneless can also be used)
1 large or 2 medium yellow or red onions, peeled and chopped into 8 pieces
2 medium tomatoes, quartered
1 (4-inch) piece ginger, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces 10 cloves garlic, peeled 1 tablespoon salt 1 tablespoon turmeric 1 tablespoon garam masala
¼ cup canola oil 1 cup plain yogurt 1 tablespoon red chili powder vegetable or
1 cup dried methi leaves (fenugreek leaves – available at specialty Indian grocers, optional)
1 (2- to 4-inch) cinnamon stick 4 green cardamom pods 4 cloves 4 to 6 green Thai, serrano or cayenne chilies, stems removed, halved lengthwise
½ cup boiling water (optional)
½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Put the chicken in the slow cooker. (If the meat was frozen, make sure it is thoroughly defrosted. Never use frozen foods in a slow cooker, because it takes too long to raise the heat to an appropriate level for safe, bacteria-free cooking.)
In a food processor, grind the onion, tomato, ginger and garlic until smooth. This may take a few minutes, so be patient. You want the paste to be as smooth as possible.
Transfer the paste to a bowl. Whisk in the salt, turmeric, garam masala, oil, yogurt, red chili powder and methi. Pour this mixture over the chicken. Add the cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, cloves and green chilies. Mix gently.
Cook on low for 8 hours. If you want more broth with your chicken add the water toward the end of the cooking time. Remove the whole spices. Garnish with cilantro and serve over bed of basmati or brown rice or with roti or naan.
Try this! For you vegetarians out there, substitute seitan for the chicken and follow the same steps. Although seitan does not need to cook as long as the chicken would, stick to the cooking time given. The masala still needs to cook thoroughly. If you are concerned that the seitan may get tough, add it in after 4 hours of cooking.
To make this dish in a 3½-quart slow cooker, halve all the ingredients and proceed with the recipe. A half recipe makes 3 to 5 servings.
RECIPE COURTESY OF “THE INDIAN SLOW COOKER”
Green Spinach Lentils
My Nisha auntie in Chandigarh, India gave me the recipe for this dal. Talk about packed with nutrition!
It mixes the whole, green moong lentil with iron-rich spinach to create a dish you’ll love making again and again!
Slow cooker size: 5-quart/ Cooking time: 7 hours on high/Yield: 14 cups
3 cups whole dried green lentils with skin, cleaned and washed thoroughly
1 medium yellow or red onion, peeled and finely chopped 1 medium tomato, diced 1 (1-inch) piece ginger, peeled and chopped or grated
2 or 3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped or grated
3 or 4 green Thai, serrano or cayenne chilies, stems removed, finely chopped 1 tablespoon cumin seeds 2 tablespoons salt ½ teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon red chili powder 12 cups water 4 cups firmly packed spinach leaves, washed and chopped
Put the lentils, onion, tomato, ginger, garlic, green chilies, cumin, salt, garam masala, turmeric, red chili powder and water in the slow cooker. Cook on high for 6½ hours. Add the spinach and cook for 30 more minutes. Serve over steaming basmati or brown rice or eat with roti or naan.
Try this! Make this dish without the spinach—the more traditional way to eat it. To make this dish in a 3½-quart slow cooker, halve all the ingredients and proceed with the recipe. A half recipe makes 8 cups.
RECIPE COURTESY OF “THE INDIAN SLOW COOKER”