Filed under: Food Week 2010
Slow Cooker; Crock Pot
Since moving into our motor home full-time, the slow cooker has become our most important appliance in the kitchen. We have found that putting ingredients into the slow cooker in the morning and then going about our day of exploration and returning home to an excellent meal is a great way to save time.
We’ve also been surprised at the variety of things you can do in a slow cooker—everything from entertaining beverages, to cakes, to stews, to complete meals. There are many recipes available and the options are endless (Fix it and Forget it has many recipes). We also modify a lot of the recipes we find to meet our dietary goals. We have even prepared a meal while traveling by sitting the slow cooker in the sink just in case (and using a recipe with low liquid content).
Before I go any further, though, I have to mention the greatest slow-cooker related invention ever—the cooking bags. They are amazing; you line the cooker with the bag and then cook whatever you desire. When you are finished, you just throw away the bag and the slow cooker is as clean as it was before you started. This is a huge time saver, as any of you know who have spent time cleaning that line from the liquid.
While it is difficult to come up with the best recipe for the slow cooker, I do have my all-time favorite that has come from growing up in New Mexico—green chile stew. While people not from New Mexico may not know all of the ingredients (or may think that they can substitute other peppers for green chiles) most of you will be able to find them in the grocery store.
While there are many recipes for green chile stew, I prefer to have potatoes and black beans in mine to make it more of a meal in itself. I start with 2-3 pounds of pork roast, cubed (sometimes we substitute lamb depending on where we are). We lightly coat the pork with flour and quickly brown it in ¼ cup of oil and then scrape all into the slow cooker (meat, oil, and flour) to thicken the sauce. We add Yukon gold potatoes (amount proportional to the meat, based on taste), an onion, and a few cloves of garlic to taste. Then add one can of Ro-Tel tomatoes and juice (tomatoes and green chile) and diced green chile to taste (depending on heat and your taste for green chile). Add water as required and turn the slow cooker on low and cook for around 6 hours (until the potatoes and pork are done). When it is done, I add a can of black beans (drained) for additional flavor and texture. Once they are heated, the stew is ready to serve.
I recommend serving in a bowl with some shredded cheddar cheese on top and plenty of tortillas. Naturally, the green chile is the key ingredient and determine the flavor and heat of the stew. Good, hot, Hatch green chile may result in a stew too hot for comfort to many people. As winter approaches, this is an excellent meal for those cold days.
One other recommendation is to use the left over green chile stew to make huevos rancheros for breakfast. Take a tortilla (flour or corn, depending on taste), warm and then put eggs to order on the tortilla (I think fried eggs are best for this dish). Then cover the eggs with the green chile stew, top with grated cheddar, and serve.