Recipes – Slow Cooking
Before having kids, could you imagine how busy a single day could be? Sleeping in on Saturdays, leisurely walks with the dog and long, late dinners with other adults seem unrealistic now. Instead, we juggle errands, housework, after-school activities and, for many of us, work. And of course, we must find time to feed our families. Cue the slow cooker – one of the easiest ways to put a hot, home-cooked meal on the table. Investing a few minutes of preparation in the morning can result in big dividends at the end of the day.
If you already have a slow cooker, you already know about its benefits but you might not have any stellar recipes to make in it. Over the past few years, we have tested dozens of slow cooker recipes, with clear winners and clear losers. The winners are posted here. Our favourite is stracoto with porcini mushrooms and carrots, so good we even make it for guests. The original recipe for the stracoto (fancy word for pot roast) called for a few hours of braising in the oven. Our slow cooker method actually improves the dish, resulting in a moister piece of meat. It’s awfully hard to dry out meat, or anything else for that matter, in a slow cooker.
We also love the ‘working mom’ version of Kelly’s great-grandmother’s stroganoff. With only a handful of ingredients to assemble and no need to brown the meat, this creamy slow cooker stroganoff takes only a few minutes to prepare. The sauce is savory and silky. Like the stracoto, the beef becomes tender and succulent after a day cooking ‘low and slow’. The dish is best served on homemade spaetzle, but good-quality egg noodles are a fine substitute.
For a real treat, try slow cooker cassoulet. Cassoulet, a traditional French peasant dish, is hearty, rib-sticking food perfect for rainy days or chilly nights. It’s also good value, making more than enough for two meals. This recipe takes a bit more time to pull together than most slow cooker recipes. If making it on a weekday, consider using canned beans. If using dried beans, it might be best to make this on the weekend. You will have plenty for Sunday’s dinner and Monday too, and probably still have enough to stash in the freezer.
Finally, consider using your slow cooker to cook non-main course items. Foil-wrapped potatoes or beets ‘bake’ perfectly in the slow cooker. Soups and stews are a good bet, too. If you don’t have a slow cooker, we hope we have convinced you to consider buying one. Nothing beats coming home to a delicious meal, ready to serve as quickly as you can call the kids to the table.
From our kitchens to yours,
Kelly & Kristin
You can find these recipes and more family favourites on our blog, www.dinnerdujour.org.