Slow Cooked Pork with Spicy Squash

We all know that chez nous, we have a strong, strong affinity for the slow cooker.  One might even say it’s a deep, passionate love, if that weren’t a somewhat odd thing to say about something you plug into the wall.

However, I do have a bone to pick with some slow cooker recipes. I’m looking at you, Williams Sonoma.   As in: the whole POINT of the slow cooker is so you can fix it and forget it and still have a delicious meal at the end of the day.  So while I love you, WS, think about this the next time you suggest an ingredient addition at the two hour mark, or a quick pass through the oven at the 90 minute mark, or removing the meat and adding some separately cooked vegetables about 3 hours in.  Just, no.  No one has time for that.  If they did, they’d be actively cooking, and not plugging their dinner into the wall.

Now that the rant section is over, let’s get on with the rave section.  As in this pork recipe.  Adapted from WS, this is a (really) good one, folks. And it’s a (mostly) fix-it-and-forget-it situation.

IMG_4283

Slow Cooked Pork with Spicy Squash

for the pork

  • large (2-3 pounds) pork tenderloin
  • salt, pepper
  • olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4-6 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • big splash white wine or sherry
  • about 1/2 cup chicken stock

for the squash

  • 1 package pre-cut butternut squash
  • olive oil, salt, pepper, crushed red peppers
  • asian-lime vinaigrette:
    • olive oil (about 2 TBs)
    • soy sauce (about 2TBs)
    • juice from 1 lime
    • sherry or red wine vinegar (about 2 Tsp.)
    • pinch sugar
    • salt, pepper, crushed red pepper
    • Sriracha (about 1 TB)
    • big handful basil, chopped
    • big handful cilantro, chopped
  1. Season the pork with salt and pepper and then sear each side in olive oil, over medium-high heat, in a large saute pan.  (This is important for flavor.) Transfer to the slow cooker.
  2. In the saute pan, add the onions and let them cook down a bit, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic when the onions are nice and soft and cook about a minute or two; add the wine/sherry.  Scrape up the nice brown bits, add the stock, cook it off for about a minute and then add to the slow cooker, over the pork.  Cover and cook on low about 6-7 hours (Note: if you’re using a fattier cut of meat, such as pork butt or shoulder, you could let it roll for longer.)
  3. About 30 minutes before the pork finishes, get your squash roasting.  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  On a large jelly roll pan, spread out the squash, drizzle olive oil, and then season with salt, pepper and crushed reds.  Make sure it’s nice and tossed through, and then pop it in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until the squash is nice and roasted.
  4. While the squash and pork finish, make your vinaigrette.  Combine all of the ingredients, whisk them together, and set aside.  You could also add jalapeno or chilis, if you have them on hand.  Reserve a bit of vinaigrette, as well as cilantro/basil for sprinkling on top of the pork/squash.
  5. Shred the pork in the slow cooker and spoon some of the liquid over it, to keep it moist.  Add the vinaigrette to the squash separately, and give it a good toss.
  6. On a plate, make a bed out of the squash and serve the pork on top.  Drizzle with a bit more vinaigrette and top with basil and/or cilantro.

The Verdict:

Hello, delicious!  The vinaigrette and fresh herbs really make this one pop, so make sure you have that on hand and ready to go for this meal.  (After, of course, you enjoy 6-7 hours away from your plugged-in dinner!).

 

Slow Cooked Roast Beef

Today is my husband’s birthday.

I sometimes give him a hard time on here for being a picky eater (who doesnt’ like fish?!), or for boiling an entire box of pasta and calling it dinner, but the truth is, I am an obscenely lucky woman to be married to him.  Not only is he deeply kind, hard working, funny, and handsome (in fact, he is dark, tall AND handsome!), he is also quite handy in the kitchen. And not just for getting down the pots from the hard-to-reach cabinets: the man can cook, especially when it comes to the crockpot.

In honor of his birthday, a recipe developed entirely by my main squeeze.

IMG_3416[1]

Slow Cooked Roast Beef

  • about two pounds rump roast (or other meat you can cook for a long time to make tender)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 6-8 sprigs of fresh rosemary or thyme
  • about 4 cups of beef broth
  • for the spice rub:
    • 1-2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
    • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
    • 1-2 tablespoons chili powder
    • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
    • 1 tablespoon onion powder
    • salt, pepper
  • for serving sandwiches:
    • good rolls
    • a little bit of sour cream, mixed with freshly prepared horseradish
    • spicy arugula
    • mustard
    • cheese of your choice (Husband notes: “A purest would use provolone.”)
  1. Mix all of the spices together in a small bowl and then rub them into the roast, making sure all sides are covered.  Season generously with salt and pepper.
  2. Pour enough beef broth into a crock pot for about a 3/4 inch bath; add onions, garlic, about half of your rosemary/thyme, and a dash of crushed red pepper.  Add the roast in the middle, top with additional rosemary/thyme.
  3. Cook on the low setting for about 8 hours.  Remove and let rest a few minutes before shredding to assemble into sandwiches.  Serve with your choice of delicious toppings.

The Verdict:

An easy-to-make, hearty, and tasty meal that makes tons of leftovers.  My husband advises you “chow yours with a side of potato chips, preferably Utz or Cape Cod.”  In other words, a Bostonian meets a Philadelphian, and they live happily ever after.

Slow Cooked Chicken Pho

I’ve been knocked flat by a cold.  I do mean I have literally been knocked flat – getting out of bed requires a monumental amount of effort.

I need some chicken soup, but I need to be able to make it without having to stand up for too long, because that gives me the coughs.  Obviously, my slow cooker is going to save the day; recipe inspired by Eating Well.  Because what could be better for your breathing than lots (and lots) of Asian spice?

IMG_3176

Slow Cooked Chicken Pho

  • olive oil
  • salt, pepper
  • 2 bone-in chicken breasts, skim removed
  • 8 cups chicken broth (the best stuff you have)
  • about 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • about 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 8 whole star anise
  • dash ground cloves
  • dash crushed reds
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 inches fresh peeled ginger, grated
  • 1/2 package udon noodles
  • 5-6 bunches baby bok choy, washed, bottoms removed, and roughly chopped
  • fresh herbs: basil, cilantro
  • toppings: scallions, thinly sliced yellow or white onions, sriracha, fresh lime, hoisin sauce, jalapeno
  1. In a large deep skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper and sear in the pan, 3-4 minutes on each side, to maximize chicken flavor.
  2. In your slow cooker, combine ingredients starting with the broth and going through ginger.  Give it a quick mix and then add the chicken, meat side down.  Cook on low for about 7 hours.  Take out the chicken from the slow cooker, and remove it from the bone.  (Optional step: strain the broth for the star anise, so you don’t accidentally bite down on them later.)  When slightly cooled, shred, and add back to the cooker for another 20-30 minutes.
  3. With about 20 minutes to go, boil water for your udon noodles and cook according to directions.
  4. With about 5-10 minutes to go, add the bok choy to the slow cooker and give it a stir.
  5. Place noodles in a bowl and ladle the chicken soup over the top.  Serve with your desired toppings – big handful of herbs, sriracha, lime juice, anything that sets your mouth on fire.

IMG_3170

The Verdict:

The crunch and spice of the basil, cilantro and scallions at the end are a must.  This was the first thing I’ve actually tasted in a while, so you know it tasted good.  Anything with this much heat is bound to clear up the sinuses, at least for a little while!  That being said, the Husband really dug this, too…though he thought it might be better with a little less star anise.  Would love feedback from anyone who gives it a go!

Slow Cooked Split Pea Soup

I wore my pajamas inside out to bed last night.  The Husband just gave me a strange look.

But.

It worked.

Today we have our first glorious snow day of the season.  For where we live, it’s real snow, too – enough to make a snow ball, enough to cover our car, and enough to shut down the city.  The Hubs and I are just sitting on our computers, working, drinking tea, and contemplating when we’ll go for a walk through this wonderland.  Life is good, and it requires soup.

IMG_3094

Slow Cooked Split Pea Soup

  • olive oil
  • 2-3 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2-3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 cup dry white wine, plus a little more
  • 2 cups green split peas, picked over and rinsed
  • 4 cups chicken stock & 1 cup water
  • 1 smocked ham hock
  • 6-8 sprigs fresh thyme
  • salt & pepper
  1. In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil and then cook the carrots, onion, and celery with a little bit of salt and pepper, about 5 minutes.  Add about a tablespoon or two of white wine to dislodge any brown bits on the bottom of the pan.
  2. Transfer the veggies to a slow cooker and add the split peas, stock, 1 cup wine, 1 cup water, ham hock and thyme sprigs.  Cover and cook on low about 9 hours.
  3. Remove the ham hock – and if you like, pull of the meat.  Discard skin, bone, and cartilage.  Remove the thyme sprigs.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Serve with a little bit of crumbled bacon/prosciutto/chorizo, if you’re going the decadent route.

IMG_3101

The Verdict:

“This looks like baby food,” says the Husband skeptically.  “But it tastes a whole lot better.”

Slow-Braised Salmon with Cucumber-Yogurt Sauce

It’s one of my New Year’s resolutions: cook more fish at home (sorry, Husband-who-doesn’t-like-fish).  The only problem is: I don’t actually like the smell of fish lingering in my kitchen after I grill or saute it.  In general, I use the oven to bake fish (a little soy sauce, a little brown sugar, and poof! Dinner!), but I wondered: could the solution be even easier?  As in, could I, as in all things tasty and easy, use my crockpot?

It turns out, yes, yes I can, and so can the Husband, who executed this recipe, inspired by Williams Sonoma.

salmon in the crockpot? yes.
salmon in the crockpot? yes.

Slow-Braised Salmon with Cucumber-Yogurt Sauce

for the salmon

  • about 1/2 cup veggie, seafood, or chicken stock
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • pinch salt
  • 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme (or dill, which pairs great with salmon, but I can never find)
  • as many salmon fillets as you can stand to eat (or fit in your crockpot without layering)
  • fresh ground pepper
  • baby spinach, for serving

for the sauce

  • 1 shallot, diced
  • about a cup plain greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon light mayo
  • another sprig or two of thyme, twiggy parts discarded
  • fresh parsley, chopped (the Husband used cilantro, which, if you’re like me, you’ll also find works, despite the weird-sounding combo.  Parsley would work slightly better with the lemony notes of thyme, though.)
  • pinch ground cumin
  • 2-3 small cucumbers, diced
  • optional: wedge lemon
  1. In your crockpot (yay!), combine the stock, wine, onion, thyme, salt, pepper and about a 1/2 cup of water.  Stir, cover, and cook on low for 30 minutes.
  2. Add salmon, skin side down, cover, grind a little bit of pepper on top, and cook on low for about an hour.  The fish will turn opaque and be completely, deliciously tender.
  3. As the fish cooks, whisk together the yogurt, a touch of mayo, shallot, more thyme, parsley, pinch cumin and the cucumber.  Season with salt and pepper and if you so desire, a squeeze of lemon.
  4. Serve the salmon on top of the baby spinach and spoon the sauce over each fillet; garnish with parsley.  Eat up.
after this: meal of chocolate-covered pretzels.
after this: meal of chocolate-covered pretzels.

The Verdict:

The Husband smothered his in sauce, but he declared this highly edible, if not outright…good.  I loved this – so easy, so tasty, so healthy, and delicious the next day, served cold with a salad of spinach and avocado.  Bonus: you can eat as many chocolate-covered pretzels as you like after this; you earned them.