Crock stars!

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.

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FOOD - By Emily Ryan For Dig­i­tal First Media

“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

IN­GRE­DI­ENTS

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

IN­STRUC­TIONS

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

IN­GRE­DI­ENTS

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

IN­STRUC­TIONS

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

IN­GRE­DI­ENTS

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

IN­STRUC­TIONS

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”

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