Grim's Grub: It's time to bring out slow cookers
The wind is blowing cold and that white stuff is starting to crop up unsolicited on my doorstep. While that makes me envy the bear and its ability to sleep through the cold months, I am reminded of my financial obligations and that thing that keeps me from being a hermit when it's cold outside - work.
The colder seasons are the time of year when we can most benefit from the types of big meals that heat up our homes and fill us to the brim. The problem is that these types of meals often take too long to prepare and cook on a workday. At times like this I think I speak for everyone when I say, "Thank God for Irving Naxon!"
Naxon is the unsung hero who brought us the slow cooker. Back around 1950 the slow cooker was developed for a purpose it can still serve today - to cook beans. According to Wikipedia (which I normally wouldn't cite, but this is a food column), Naxon was inspired by a story of his grandmother cooking a traditional Lithuanian stew called "cholent" for hours on end in an oven.
Cholent was apparently one dish adapted specifically to match the needs of Jewish laws, which forbade cooking on the Sabbath. Cholent was brought to a boil on Friday and cooked until the following day when it would be eaten without additional need of forbidden work.
Interesting that we use slow cookers today so that we can cook and work at the same time, and they were invented so people could avoid work the next day. I'll admit that this is all even more interesting than I was anticipating.
I like to use the crock pot to simplify what once took a lot more time. I like making stock and simple pot roasts. I like cooking chicken until I can shred it fine for dozens of other recipes. There is nothing like returning home to find your slow cooker steaming away, your house smelling delicious and the air nice and warm at the end of a long, cold day. I said it before and I'll say it again. Thank God for Irving Naxon.
Here I've chosen a three-packet slow cooker recipe that is delicious and couldn't be easier, Cholent is a no-brainer considering the history of the slow cooker, and pork chops with rice has always been a favorite in my family.
Three Packet Slow Cooker Roast
Courtesy of https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/214413/three-packet-slow-cooker-roast/ and many other sites
- 1 cup water
- 1 .7-ounce package dry Italian style dressing mix
- 1 1-ounce package ranch dressing mix
- 1 .75-ounce packet dry brown gravy mix
- 1 3-pound boneless beef chuck
Combine the water and dry mixes until a smooth sauce forms. Place your roast into the slow cooker and pour the sauce over the top. Cook on low 6-8 hours. The liquid may be used to make a gravy or as an au jus for French dip.
- 1 small chopped onion
- 1 pound stew meat
- Marrow bones
- ¼ cup kidney beans
- ¼ cup navy beans
- 1 cup pearled barley
- 3 medium potatoes, cubed
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 4-6 cups water
Place the ingredients in the crock pot in the following order: onion, meat, bones, beans, barley, potatoes, spices, water. Cover and cook on low for approximately 26 hours. If you really want to experience authentic cholent, don't eat it until Saturday.
Pork Chops and Rice
- 2-3 pounds of pork chops
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup long-grain cooking rice
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 celery stalk, chopped
- 10.75-ounce can cream of chicken soup
- 10.75-ounce can cream of mushroom soup
- 1 ¼ cups water
- 1.1-ounce package onion dip mix
- ½ tablespoon seasoning salt
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Place chops evenly on the bottom of the crock. Stir together the remaining ingredients until blended well. Spread over the top of the chops. Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours or on high for 2-3 hours. This is done once all the liquid is absorbed into the rice and the chops are fork tender.