Time to Rock that Crock Pot

By Chef David Blackmon

I personally love my crock pot and use it at least 2 or 3 times per month. This year I plan on using it more to make it possible for my family to eat healthy, rather than eat all those “convenience foods” which aren’t that good for us. 

Here are my 5 best reasons for using a crock pot over other methods of cooking (or eating out)…

  1. A crock pot uses very little energy.
  2. You can make your dinner in the morning. It will be ready for the table as soon as you get home from work.
  3. You canbuy less expensive cuts of meat that would be tougher to chew if you cooked them on the stove or in your oven. The act of slowly cooking meat in a crock pot effectively softens even the toughest meats. So, in this way, a crock pot can also save you money.
  4. Using a crock pot frees up your oven and stovetop for other types of cooking or bakingthat you might like to do. This can be especially useful during the holidays, when you are cooking for a crowd and every bit of extra cooking space helps!
  5. Unlike ovens and even stovetops,crock pots will not heat up your kitchen. Most people avoid turning on the oven during the summer months for this very reason because it gets too hot in the kitchen.

These are just a few of the many reasons why cooking with a crock pot makes sense. If you aren’t cooking with a crock pot then you are definitely losing out.

Green Chicken Chili

1 medium onion, chopped
2 cups chicken breasts, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 cans chopped green chilies
3-1/4 cups green enchilada sauce or salsa verde
2 cups pinto beans, (soaked over-night)
3 cups water
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

Place all ingredients in slow cooker and cook on high for 3-4 hours or until beans are tender.
If desired this soup is wonderful served with a bit of crushed tortilla chips and shredded cheddar cheese on top.

Slow Braised Lamb Shanks

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1 yellow onion, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup peeled, seeded and chopped tomatoes
2 Tbs. tomato paste
1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
4 lamb shanks, external fat trimmed
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 cup red wine

Put the onion, celery, carrots, garlic, stock, tomatoes, tomato paste, thyme and bay leaf in a slow cooker and stir to combine.

Season the lamb shanks with salt and pepper. In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil until nearly smoking. Add the shanks and brown on all sides, about 5 minutes total. Transfer to the slow cooker.

Remove the sauté pan from the heat, pour in the wine and return to medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring to scrape up any browned bits from the pan bottom. Add the wine to the slow cooker, cover and cook on high for 6 hours according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer the lamb shanks to a large serving dish.

Remove the bay leaf from the cooking liquid. Using a blender or stick blender, puree the liquids and solids until smooth. Pour some of the sauce over the shanks and pass the rest alongside.

 

burgerDavid Blackmon is the chef/owner of The Culinary Solution (Private Event Chefs for Hire). Questions? Or Comments. Email him: [email protected]

 

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