Slower cookers are handy year-round, but they really pull their weight in the winter. The electric pots use a fraction of the electricity of an oven or stovetop and make meat especially tender.
Slow cookers are handy year-round, but they really pull their weight in the winter. The electric pots use a fraction of the electricity of an oven or stovetop and make meat especially tender.
Many main-dish recipes call for simply adding meat or poultry to the slow cooker. But to give it more flavor, consider browning the meat or poultry first on the stovetop.
In a large skillet (one without a nonstick coating is best) that doesn’t crowd the meat, heat oil so it is hot enough to sear. Then add cubes of meat or poultry or a whole roast. Cook until the meat has a brown crust but isn’t burnt. Add to the slow cooker as directed by the recipe.
Here’s a couple of slow cooker recipes.
The first, for Slow-Cooker Pork Tacos, comes from Dori Smith of Springfield, Ill. She says the recipe is “very easy and great for upcoming sports events or a nice family get-together.”
The second recipe, for Crock-Pot Tropical Turkey, combines turkey, bell peppers, onions and pineapple. It comes from Jane Frazier of Havana, Ill., who says it reheats well in the microwave.
“The leftover turkey can be shredded and used in quesadillas, enchiladas, pizza, etc.,” she writes.
Slow-Cooker Pork Tacos
5-pound boneless pork shoulder, fat trimmed from outer layer, or boneless pork ribs
1 (15-ounce) can sodium-free chicken broth
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Dry rub mixture:
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 (15-ounce) jar chunky picante sauce, medium heat (Pace preferred)
1 (4-ounce) can mild green chiles
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 cup reserved liquid from cooked pork
Work the dry rub into the pork shoulder. Let set 30 minutes. Place meat in slow cooker with chicken broth and Worcestershire sauce. Cook 6 hours on medium or 7 hours on low or until tender.
One hour before pork is done, blend together all sauce ingredients, including reserved liquid from the slow cooker. Add sauce to slow cooker; cook the remaining hour.
Shred pork. Use slotted spoon to drain extra liquid from pork or transfer pork to a warming dish. Serve shredded pork with warm taco shells, pita pocket bread or tortilla chips, along with a variety of toppings: shredded lettuce, shredded cheese, sour cream, guacamole and diced tomatoes.
Makes 10-12 servings.
-- Dori Smith, Springfield, Ill.
Crock-Pot Tropical Turkey
2 or 3 bone-in, skin-on turkey thighs
1 to 1 1/2 large onions, coarsely chopped or sliced thick
1 to 1 1/2 large sweet bell peppers, cut into chunks
Salt, to taste
1 (20-ounce) can pineapple chunks in juice, drained (reserve juice if you want to thicken sauce at the end of cooking)
Coat inside of slow cooker with cooking spray. Brown turkey thighs in hot oil in skillet, 5 to 8 minutes per side. Layer onions, turkey and bell peppers in crock, salting as desired. Top with pineapple.
Cook on low 6 to 8 hours, or on high 4 to 5 hours. Remove turkey; allow to cool just enough to handle, then remove skin and bones. Separate meat into serving-sized pieces. Return to crock.
Optional: Mix reserved pineapple juice with cornstarch and use to thicken pan juices on high for about 15 minutes.
Serve with rice, noodles or couscous. Instead of turkey thighs, recipe can also be used with chicken thighs, boneless beef or pork roast.
Makes 6 servings.
-- Jane Frazier, Havana, Ill.
-- The Trading Post is looking for Irish recipes suitable for St. Patrick’s Day. If you have one, please send it in. If you have a comment on how the dish tastes or if you have tips for making the dish, send that in, too.
The Trading Post is a recipe-exchange column that runs every other week and is compiled by Kathryn Rem. Send recipes and recipe requests to the Trading Post, The State Journal-Register, P.O. Box 219, Springfield, IL 62705, fax to 217-788-1551 or e-mail email@example.com. Please include your name, city and daytime phone number.