Fill it up. Plug it in. Go to work. Come home to dinner.
We all need to use our crock pots more, and I’m saying that as someone who uses hers all the time.
Most people know about chili in the crock pot, so I’m not going to give you a chili recipe. I’m just going to give you all the other ones my household loves. We’re covering the non-soup/stew recipes and non-pasta recipes here.
Waltonen Family Meatballs: Buy a package of frozen meatballs, your favorite bbq sauce, and a jar of grape jelly. Mix equal parts jelly and bbq sauce in the crock pot–enough to cover the meatballs. You can either put the frozen meatballs in and let them warm up in the crock pot during the day, or if you’re in a hurry, put them in pre-thawed. In my family, we have these plugged in all day on major holidays to snack on.
A whole damn chicken or turkey breast: That’s right. Use whatever kind of rub you like. I alternate between a savory mix of garlic, thyme, rosemary, s&p, and sage; lemon slices, s&p, rosemary; and peri-peri spices. Leave it in there all day. When you’re ready, the bird will be resting in its own juices. Serve it whole or shred it. I tend to get quite a few meals out of this: the first dinner, a soup, and tacos or enchilada meat. The one drawback: the meat is so tender that you will have a problem keeping it all together if you want to platter it. You’ll also have tons of chicken broth, useful for soups. If you slow cook root vegetables too (in the same pot), you can easily make a stew or chicken pot pie with the leftovers.
You can do any kind of meat you would normally bake in the crock pot. I do all my pot roasts this way.
Beef roast: coat lightly in s&p, flour, garlic, and a touch of ginger. You can cook the root vegetables in there at the same time. Leftovers easily become beef stew.
Pork tenderloin: Mix peach preserves, a bit of mustard, a pinch of crushed red pepper, s&p, and brandy (optional). Pour over the tenderloin.
Kalua pork: You can make a perfect Hawaiian delicacy with three ingredients. Coat a giant pork roast in liquid smoke and sea salt. Cook it all day. Shred. Serve over rice. (Save the broth. You can use the leftovers for pork tacos, enchiladas, or pork stew. This flavor works particularly well with a tomatillo pork stew, which you can also make in the crock pot.)
Caribbean Pork. Mix 4 tsp nutmeg, 4 tsp cumin, 4 tsp salt, 3 tsp cinnamon, and 1/4tsp ground red pepper. Coat a tenderloin or roast in it. Cook it all day. Serve with mixed fruit (mango, pineapple, etc.) mixed with 1 T chopped cilantro, 1-2 tsp lime juice, and cumin.
Speaking of pork, you can make carnitas and carnitas soup with the leftovers. Or try Vaguely Vietnamese Pork Tacos.
Garlic Pesto Chicken in a Creamy Tomato Sauce
Balsamic Glazed Chicken Legs (for these and the garlic pesto chicken, I always put another servings worth of chicken and the marinade in the freezer for a quick meal a few weeks later)
Red Beans and Rice (this recipe isn’t for the crock pot, but it works well there. For perfect beans, start by covering the beans in a lot of water. Leave them in the crock pot overnight–unplugged and off. This will soften the beans so they are perfect after you add the other ingredients, set it to low, and head to work)
Chicken Shawarma (I add oregano and a bit of curry powder to this recipe; I cook on low all day, not using as much water as the original does. I also make Shawarma Rice. I serve them with sliced cucumber & safeway tzatziki cucumber dressing on pita.
It’s Christmas time, so I’m getting ready to make lamb. Usually, I just coat it in a mix of garlic, mustard, and balsamic vinegar, but this year we’re trying this recipe for Persian-Spiced Lamb. I’m altering it just a bit–we’re doing a leg and doing it in the crock pot!