Saturday, February 23, 2008

Irony

It does seem strange that I who have made much of my career about getting people out of the kitchen in record time with my books, Roasting and Microwave Gourmet should find myself playing with slow cookers. I know this is a trend; but that is not what is driving me. I hope it will be one more way that I can help people to eat very good food made in the time that their busy lives have available.

It is by far the most time consuming and most difficult testing that I have done as each recipe requires tying up a machine for many hours and if things don't work out it is back to column A. My first attempt in this series a chicken stew with lentils was a modified disaster.

I am setting myself the challenge of meals that can be quickly put together and allowed to Slow cook while people are at work so that they come home to a delicious meal.

Wish me luck

8 comments:

Peg said...

Do you mean that you "know this is a trend" for you or in the broader sense, culturally, as in the Slow Food Movement? I'll be very interested in what you come up with. (Sorry to hear about the chicken stew -- what went wrong?)

Barbara said...

Thank you for getting me to clarify. I suppose that I meant it on both levels. Firstly, I have magazine editors call--e mail--me with requests for slow cooker recipes by which they meant machines. And I would have to be an out-of-touch idiot not to realize that there have been a rash of heavily selling books on slow cookers. On this level--as usual--the autodidact in me pushes me to do my own research, find my own generalities and create my own recipes. Of which, I hope more later. Actually see today' blog.

On the more global level, while I applaud the interest in the artisnal and traditional, I don't think that cooking must be slow to achieve these flavors and ends.

I also crave those recipes such as long simmered sauces, stews, braises and pot roasts. I make them; but I realize that I spend a great deal of my day in the kitchen a possibility rarely available to most of today's cooks who have jobs. Consequently, my turn to the slow cooker.

So, a circle; we will see what it brings.

Thank you for your comment.

Cindy said...

I chop up a couple of carrots, an onion, and a stalk of celery and place in the slow cooker. Put in a 4 1/2 to 5 pound free-range chicken. Sprinkle on some salt and pepper. Toss in a bay leaf and a few sprigs of thyme. Pour in half a bottle of red wine. Cook on low about 5 hours. Newer slow cookers cook at a higher temp when set on "low" (for food safety reasons, I believe), so you can't cook a chicken for a whole day. If I'm going to be gone for the day, I put the cooker on a timer to start in a few hours. (If you're going to do this, it's a good idea to put everything in the cooker insert the night before and refrigerate. With everything nice and cold, the chicken can safely sit out for 2-3 hours before starting to cook.)

Barbara said...

Thank you for that. I think that you are already ahead of me; but I am galloping to catch up.
I currently have four different slow cookers--somewhat different features and timings--as well as my old Crock Pot.
I'd be very curious to know what you have found out about temperatures.
Thank you so much for the help.

Barbara said...

Thank you for that. I think that you are already ahead of me; but I am galloping to catch up.
I currently have four different slow cookers--somewhat different features and timings--as well as my old Crock Pot.
I'd be very curious to know what you have found out about temperatures.
Thank you so much for the help.

Barbara said...

Thank you for that. I think that you are already ahead of me; but I am galloping to catch up.
I currently have four different slow cookers--somewhat different features and timings--as well as my old Crock Pot.
I'd be very curious to know what you have found out about temperatures.
Thank you so much for the help.

Cindy said...

My old Crockpot cooked at a very low simmer -- just the odd bubble or two -- when set on "low." Both of my newer ones cook at a much stronger simmer -- quite a few bubbles all of the time. I would compare it to the difference between braising in an oven set at 250 and one set at 350.

I also make chicken stock in my slow cooker exclusively these days. I throw all the bones and any attached meat scraps from a roasted chicken into a 6-qt. cooker along with all of the ingredients I use for the chicken braise, substituting 12 cups of water for the red wine. Cook on low overnight. Makes great (and very easy) stock.

Barbara said...

Cindy: Thanks for the in put. I am still struggling with manufacturers to get cooking temps.
The over night stock is a sound and good idea. I do the same on top of the stove; but I think the slow cooker is probably safer and easier.