What’s the easiest way to make someone feel like a culinary superstar?
Use a dang crockpot.
There’s nothing better than pouring a bunch of ingredients into a bowl, flipping a switch, and returning hours later to find a perfectly cooked meal (or five!). I only wish I’d known about the power of slow-cooking in college — it would’ve spared me from many a Ritz-cracker-and-peanut-butter dinner.
I’ve been tossing proteins, veggies, and spices into crockpots over the past few days with no rhyme or reason, and the results have always been phenomenal. I feel a bit bad sharing these recipes sans photos, but I couldn’t wait. They’re just too good! So delicious and so plentiful; they’ll make your belly happy for days on end.
Beef and tomato stew
This was a total “stone soup” moment, wherein we threw the following into our crockpot: 5 pounds of salt-and-peppered tri-tip steak; minced, pan-fried browned onion; half a can of tomato paste; 2 cups of chicken stock; and cubed mushrooms. I crossed my fingers and prayed for something edible. Once again, slow cooking came through and provided me a silky, rich broth with intense flavors and melty bites of beef. I didn’t keep track of my recipe, but below is one that looks very similar to my method. Feel free to tweak as needed, since slow cooking is really so forgiving.
Whole spiced chicken
The latter link, from the lovely folks at America’s Test Kitchen, includes two great tips to make your crockpot chicken juicy and flavorful. Check it out!
- 1 whole chicken, giblets removed and patted dry with paper towels – for reference, mine was about 4.5 pounds
- 1 onion, sliced
- 5 cloves of garlic
- Seasoning mix
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic pepper
- 1 teaspoon herbes de provence
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- Combine the seasoning mix in a small bowl. Microwave for one minute.
- Reach underneath the chicken skin and rub with seasoning mix. You want the spices on the chicken meat itself — not the skin, which takes on a rubbery and unappealing texture in the crockpot. Alternately, you can remove the skin before cooking the crockpot (which will also spare you from its fat, which will melt into the broth), but I like to keep it on because I’m of the mind that it traps in more moisture and keeps the meat juicier.
- Place the chicken in the pot, breast-side down, and slow cook on low for 5-6 hours.