Slow Cooker Season

Slow cooker season is upon us! With some kids heading back to school and the weather starting to cool down, now is the perfect time to break out that slow cooker. Chef Howard has all of the slow cooker inspiration you need – here he describes his go-to recipes for slow cookers. 

As summer winds down, kids begin to go back to school in parts of the country and many of us are back to working outside the home, the age-old question of “What’s for Dinner?” comes up every afternoon. For some of us it is easier than others; we are still at home and have “time” to prep and cook meals but for others it’s a matter of making use of some kitchen equipment (which may have been collecting dust) and prepping your ingredients the night before.  Slow cooking is where I am going with this, and while it may be nothing new, it is something that we can make use of when time is short, but we have all day to cook.

Slow cooking is nothing new; Naxon Utilities Corp developed a Bean Cooker in the 1940s which later became the Crock Pot, which is the king of the slow cookers.  The slow cooker became popular in the late 1940s when homes started to have dual working parents.  Prep could be done in the morning and then loaded into the slow cooker and cooked during the day.   With today’s working families using a slow cooker is an efficient way to prepare tough cuts of meats, impart some big flavors into proteins, and cook items that take a long time.

In the Fuchs kitchens we have played with slow and low recipes for quite some time, some of our favorites here include osso buco, short ribs, roasts and leg of lamb while also testing soups, stews and even jams.   The ability to break down heavy connective tissue and lean muscle fibers of inexpensive cuts, imparting that flavor you only get from slowly cooking a well marbled and seasoned cut of meat make it a no brainer.  We also like the fact that you can cook your meats while you are out during the day and then when you get home you can add vegetables, so they have some texture left in them.  Another use for slow cookers is in sauce development, making a broth like pho and creating stock type broths using the meat’s natural juices.  Sauces through reduction of the cooking liquid is another great way to make use of the natural juices you get when cooking in a slow cooker.

One of my favorite slow cooker dishes is a beef barbacoa made with a chuck roast, ancho and guajillo chiles, spices and a little beef stock.  The meat is cooked slowly all day with the chiles, onion, garlic and spices and then the chiles, onion and garlic are removed and blended to a paste and added back to the sauce and cooked for another hour.  The meat is shredded, the sauce becomes a dip of sorts for the tortillas and goes over the shredded meat in the taco.  This is one of the best uses for a slow cooker I have personally found.  My wife loves to take pork shoulder, rub it down with a smokey BBQ seasoning and cook the shoulder all day to make pulled pork for BBQ sweet potatoes or Carolina style BBQ sandwiches.  If you like Cuban cuisine, we make a Mojo seasoning and rub down a boneless pork shoulder and let it cook all day then break it into big chunks and serve it with some sliced sweet onion, white rice, black beans, fried plantains and some lime. It is just like being back in Miami.   Another great use for a slow cooker that most people overlook is cooking a whole chicken.  With a rotisserie style seasoning and some ingenuity, you can achieve the same results as your favorite grocer without the price and inconvenience.  Using a larger sized slow cooker, an insert or foil ring to keep the chicken off the bottom and sitting in its own juices and 8 hours of cook time you can have a slow cooked, juicy tender chicken with all the flavor and texture of a store bought chicken with the home cooked satisfaction.

Don’t take my word for it; contact us today to see how Fuchs can help you make something special – for the slow cooker and beyond.

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