Enterprise-Record (Chico)

From dinner to dessert, slow cookers can be a cook’s best friend

- By Nicole Hvidsten

We always seem to be searching for ways to save time, both in life and in the kitchen. Shortcut recipes aimed for frazzled cooks have been around as long as we’ve been cooking, and appliances like Instant Pots have made quick work out of even the most time-intensive dishes.

But a cold, hectic week in the middle of winter was an opportune time to take a step back and wonder, what’s the rush? So I called on an old friend, the slow cooker.

In their heyday, slow cookers were a cook’s lifesaver. Dump-and-go meals required little interventi­on, and its low-and-slow approach made even the toughest (and most economical) cuts of meat forktender. They’re amazingly versatile, keeping dips and dishes warm, feeding pulled pork to the masses and even baking up breads and desserts.

While I embrace anything that will help solve dinnertime dilemmas, revisiting cherished recipes and adding new ones to my repertoire were reminders that even in this hustle-and-bustle world, sometimes low and slow is still the way to go.

Slow Cooker Bread

Serves 6to 8.

1 (1/4-ounce) envelope active dry yeast

1tablespoo­n sugar

1 1/2 cups lukewarm water, about 110 degrees

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 2 tablespoon­s extra-virgin

olive oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt Melted butter, for finishing Seasonings such as garlic, rosemary or everything bagel, for optional garnish


Line a slow cooker with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray.

In a large, nonmetal bowl, combine yeast and sugar. Add heated water and stir until yeast is dissolved and starts to bubble. Let sit for 5 minutes.

Add flour, olive oil and salt and stir until combined and a shaggy dough begins to form.

On a lightly floured surface with floured hands, knead dough until it becomes smooth and soft and no longer sticky, about 5minutes. Alternativ­ely, combine all ingredient­s in a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment and knead on medium speed for about 5 minutes.

Form dough into a round shape that’s a little smaller than the size of your slow cooker and place in prepared slow cooker. Cook on high until golden on the bottom and cooked through, about 2 hours, or until the internal temperatur­e reaches 200 degrees. The bread will not brown on top. Quickly remove

slow cooker lid; avoid spilling condensati­on onto the bread.

To brown crust: Turn oven to broil setting. Remove bread and parchment from slow cooker and place on baking sheet. Broil until golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Immediatel­y brush with butter and sprinkle with preferred seasonings. Let cool for at least 20 minutes. Slice and serve warm or at room temperatur­e.

Gooey Dark Chocolate Brownie Cake

Serves 6to 8.

3/4 cup (11/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for greasing insert

1 1/2 cups sugar

2/3 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder

1/3 cup all-purpose flour 3 large eggs, lightly beaten 1teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup dark chocolate chunks

Vanilla ice cream, for serving Creamy peanut butter, melted, for serving


Line the insert of a 4- or 6-quart slow cooker with a large piece of foil, then generously butter the foil. In a medium bowl, whisk together the melted butter, sugar, cocoa powder, flour, eggs, vanilla and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Fold in the chocolate chunks. Scrape the batter into the prepared insert in an even layer. Cover and cook on low for 3 hours; the cake should be set around the edges and gooey in the center. (Cooking time will depend on the size of slow cooker; a smaller slow cooker will require more time, up to another 90 minutes.)

Serve the cake warm, topped with ice cream and melted peanut butter or your preferred topping.

White Chicken Chili

Serves 6to 8.

5to 6boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 1/2 tablespoon­s ground cumin

1 1/2 tablespoon­s ground coriander

3 teaspoons dried oregano 1 teaspoon paprika 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes Kosher salt and ground white pepper

3 (15-ounce) cans Great Northern beans, drained 4 cloves garlic, minced 3 (4-ounce) cans green chiles, chopped

2 medium onions, diced 1 jalapeño, sliced, seeds removed

4 cups chicken broth

1 cup whole milk

1/4 to 1/2 cup masa

1 1/2 cups frozen corn

1/2 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese, plus more for serving

Sour cream, for serving Chopped fresh cilantro, for serving


Add the chicken breasts to a slow cooker. In a small bowl, mix the cumin, coriander, oregano, paprika, red pepper flakes and salt and pepper. Sprinkle mixture over the chicken. Add the beans, garlic, canned chiles, onions and jalapeño. Pour in the chicken broth, put the lid on and cook on high until the vegetables are soft and the flavors are combined, about 5hours.

Mix the milk with the masa (more masa for thicker chili) and add to the slow cooker. Add the frozen corn straight from the freezer and continue to cook until the sauce has thickened, another 30 minutes.

Remove the chicken to a board and shred using 2 forks. Return to the slow cooker, stirring. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup Monterey Jack cheese, stirring to melt. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.

To serve, ladle the chili into bowls and garnish with a dollop of sour cream, extra cheese and cilantro.

 ?? NICOLE HVIDSTEN — MINNEAPOLI­S STAR TRIBUNE ?? White chicken chili as a southweste­rn flair. The addition of chiles and corn give this warming chili a little Tex-Mex flair. Adapted from the Food Network by Nicole Hvidsten.
NICOLE HVIDSTEN — MINNEAPOLI­S STAR TRIBUNE White chicken chili as a southweste­rn flair. The addition of chiles and corn give this warming chili a little Tex-Mex flair. Adapted from the Food Network by Nicole Hvidsten.

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