3 Great Recipes for the Crock Pot, Don't Let Your Meat Loaf
My Crock Pot
Crock Pot Gourmet
"Cooking great meals in a big crock pot is so easy a Slacker could do it, with just a few simple ingredients you can create a tasty stew that will last for days."
In this article 3 Great Recipes for the Crock Pot, Don't let Your Meat Loaf! will show you just how easy it is to cook great meals with a Crock Pot.
Crock Pots are great for busy people that don't have a lot of time to prepare meals or Slackers like myself that enjoy preparing one good meal that last's for days.
The ideal way in which to cook a crock pot meal is to prepare it before hand and store it in the refrigerator over night. Take it out of the frig in the morning, plug it in and turn it on low or simmer and it will be ready to eat when you get home from work.
The most important aspect of crock pot cooking is timing and making sure that the meat you use is cooked slowly but completely. To get your timing down will take some trial and error, however if the meat is cooked slowly it will literally fall apart in your mouth.
My first recipe requires that you start the beef stew meat first. This is the most common crock pot meal that I cook and the simplest, I call it Road Kill Stew.
Slacker Chopping Method
Elephant Garlic or Jumbo Garlic I have found is best used in Stews by implementing the handy dandy Slacker method of chopping.
- Cut off both ends with the skin still on it, with the ends removed it is child's play to remove the skin.
- Let the clove sit naturally on the cutting board and slice it length wise every 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch keeping the slices together all the way across it.
- Roll the clove 90 degrees and begin to cut the clove in similar width strips.
- It is important to keep the clove in as close to its original form as possible but not imperative.
- Now that you have your clove cut in two directions simply turn it 90 degrees and chop across the cuts in similar widths.
The end result will be little one eighth to quarter inch blocks of garlic. Throw these in on top of your stew meat and put the lid on it. I like cutting up an onion using the same method after cutting it in half and putting it in with the meat.
I generally hold off on the Japalenos until the meat is ready as it can loose its flavor and spice, if overcooked.
Road Kill Stew
Buy at least three or four pounds of beef stew meat, depending on if you want a chunk of beef in every bite, from your local grocery store. Most grocery stores will have a section which has already prepared packets of stew flavoring, taco flavoring, sloppy joe flavoring, etc., buy at least two for every crock pot meal you plan on cooking. You can buy the generic kind which is usually half the price of brand names. You will also need to purchase your favorite vegetables, the following are some of mine.
- Ten pound bag of Potatoes
- Five pound bag of Onions
- Bag of Japalenos Peppers
- A bag of baby Carrots
- A bag of Broccoli tops or canned Green Beans what ever you prefer
- One bag of Celery
- One Elephant Garlic clove (taste the same and is easier to chop)
Now you are ready for the preparation part of the meal. Learning to use a crock pot requires some chopping skills and a sharp knife. I have a hand held knife sharpener to keep my blades nice and sharp.
More Kitchen accidents occur from dull blades than sharp ones, believe it or not.
You do not need to defrost the meat as is commonly done. Simple run warm or hot water over the package of meat until it is pliable and begins to loosen. Remove the meat from the package still half frozen and put it in the crock pot, separating it into thirds to make it fit.
Turn the crock pot setting to high, dump in one package of stew flavoring and add a cup of water. I like adding my spices with the meat as I enjoy really Hot food, however as most of the World does not, use your own best judgement. I generally use one elephant clove and a japelano pepper.
Let the meat cook until boiling or at least an hour which ever comes first before adding the rest of your ingredients as the meat takes the longest to cook.
I prefer to add the baby carrots and potatoes next as they also can take a long time to cook. Makes sure you keep the water level just below the top of the ingredients as a rule of thumb.
After two or three hours of cooking your spiced meat on high begin to add the rest of your ingredients.
As the Slacker method of chopping does take practice use your new found chopping skills on all the rest of your vegetables. The cross hatch method of chopping or Slacker method as I prefer to call it (since I invented it) will enable you to create bite sized or smaller pieces of vegetables which is imperative when eating stew. Potatoes are much easier to chop using this method as they stay together better and are bigger.
After you have added all the rest of the vegetables chopped to your specifications add your final packet of beef stew flavoring and any spices you deem necessary.
Cooking times may vary and if you're not in a hurry you may want to turn the crock pot down to avoid constant stirring and to let the ingredients slow cook to your tastes.
Frijoles Negro Chicken Stew
I try to stay away from canned vegetables and meat as much as possible as I don't trust the containers. Any food stored in metal containers is a real turn off for me however sometimes it is necessary and unavoidable. I buy my beans in bulk, it's cheaper and easier to store.
Frijoles Negro is just the Spanish words for black beans. I really enjoy the flavor of black beans and like to make this version hot, hot, hot!
Buying in bulk does require that you soak your beans ahead of time, usually over night will do but sometimes longer. Pour your beans into a large container with a lid and fill generously with water, the water level does not matter as you will drain off the excess after they have soaked up all the water they can.
I try to buy my chicken in bulk also and will cook it all and store it by freezing it in air tight containers or if I know I will be using it soon in the refrigerator. I usually put the chicken in last when preparing this meal as it has a tendency to fall apart if overcooked.
With your frijoles negro properly soaked and your chicken precooked it is time to fill your crock pot with soon to be tasty morsels.
Cook your black beans first, simply pour them into the crock pot after you have drained the excess water from them. Add chopped onions, japaleno's, garlic and one package of taco flavoring or fajitas flavoring which ever you prefer, both are really good and one cup of water.
Allow this combination to cook for an hour on high until boiling, then add broccoli or asparagus tips finely cut, two tomatoes finely chopped (again use the Slacker method) and any other ingredients you deem worthy.
Last but by no means least add your chicken, I prefer to cut or tear (because I'm a savage) the pieces into bite sizes pieces, add another packet of flavoring mix ( I prefer taco ) and turn the heat down to medium allowing the spices to congeal into this sumptuous mix.
You may want to add more water but be careful as it is so easy to add too much!
Red Beans and Rice
Red Beans and Rice is SO NICE!
I learned the benefits of rice in stew concoctions when trying to thicken up a stew that was too watery. As I grew more comfortable with adding rice it lead to its own stew as one of the main ingredients.
Now one of my favorite crock pot meals is a red bean, rice and shrimp combination that I infuse with curry powder for a just incredible delicious stew, that is easy to make.
Again one must soak their red beans overnight, but you can buy already cooked shrimp or cook it yourself. Rice is very inexpensive when purchased in bulk and can be stored easily in coffee cans with lids or sealable containers.
If you choose to cook the shrimp yourself just sauté them in garlic butter and curry powder until they turn red, be sure not to over cook them as they will also be cooked in the crock pot.
The red beans should go first into the crock pot with your standard onion, japaleno and jumbo garlic clove, sometimes I add some taco flavoring mix but usually just add curry powder and some water no more than a cup. Cook it until it begins to boil and then turn it down as you add the shrimp and perhaps a tomato to add some juice.
Add the rice last using the standard two cups water for every one cup rice. I generally just eyeball it, but you may want to stick to what has been proven to work until you get good at judging for yourself.
So add a cup of rice into your Red Bean and Shrimp mix and then add the water as you go, it is important to keep your stew boiling at this point so that the rice will be cooked properly and absorb the water.