Turn on slow cooker and keep your cool
It seems the real summer has finally stood up: hot and steamy. And though most of us live comfortably in air-conditioned homes, we are loathe to turn on the oven and yield even one degree to the thermostat.
So reach for the slow cooker instead. We tend to think more of these appliances during colder months, but there's no reason not to enjoy their convenience all summer long.
My co-workers recently asked for slow cooker recipes with summertime appeal using either chicken or beef.
You may know one of the people I heard from: former food editor Ann Thrash.
“Here's a summertime slow cooker recipe,” she writes. “It popped up in an online ad the other day, and the idea of doing short ribs in the slow cooker grabbed me. The recipe is from Kraft, so naturally it calls for that brand of barbecue sauce, not my usual choice, but I tried it since this was my first time out with the recipe, and I got good results. I'm sure any number of other bottled sauces would work just as well.
“This and a few ears of microwaved sweet corn on the cob made an awesome summer supper and kept the kitchen (and the cook) cool. Great leftovers, too!”
Slow-Cooker BBQ Short Ribs
4 pounds beef short ribs
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup Kraft Original Barbecue Sauce
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
Kosher salt, to taste
Place the ribs in the slow cooker. Sprinkle chopped onions on top. Combine all the remaining ingredients in a bowl, stir well to blend and pour on top of the ribs. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours.
Remove ribs from cooker and cover to keep warm. Skim excess fat from sauce, then return ribs to cooker and stir gently until evenly coated with sauce.
Neva Gadsden of Charleston also sent some recipes our way. I liked the sound of this one:
Southwestern Chicken Stew
3 pounds bone-in skinless chicken thighs
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup salsa
2 teaspoons minced garlic
6 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks (see cook's note)
2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 (12-ounce) jar roasted red bell peppers, cut into thin strips
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Tortilla chips, rice and lime wedges for garnish
Cook's note: Neva says 3 sweet potatoes work just fine.
Sprinkle chicken with 1 teaspoon cumin, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper, In a skillet, brown chicken in oil for about 10 minutes.
Remove chicken to a platter. In a small bowl, stir together the paprika, broth, salsa, garlic, 1 teaspoon cumin, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.
Line a large slow cooker with potatoes. Place chicken on top of potatoes. Cover with beans and top with broth mixture. Cover and cook for 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low.
Stir in bell peppers. Place chicken on a platter and spoon potatoes and sauce over it. Sprinkle with cilantro. Add garnishes.
Conyers Bull writes, “Just wanted to let you know that I just checked out a cookbook that you, or your co-workers, might find helpful. It is 'The Mediterranean Slow Cooker' by Michele Scicolone.
“There are recipes like Balsamic Chicken With Capers, Roast Chicken With Tapenade, Beef Stew With Cinnamon and Tiny Onions, and Beef Short Ribs With Mustard and Red Wine.
“The cookbook also has soup, pasta, seafood, pork, and dessert recipes.
“I have just made the Spiced Carrot Soup ... and it is delicious! I am really not a fan of cooked carrots. But, the spoonful of sour cream added to the bowl really smooths out the carrotty-ness for me. And, it's pretty refreshing chilled.”
Spiced Carrot Soup
1 large onion, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds carrots, peeled and sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons honey
Pinch of cayenne pepper
6 cups chicken broth, vegetable broth or water
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup plain yogurt or sour cream
Chopped fresh mint, cilantro or flat-leaf parsley (optional)
In a small skillet, cook the onion in the oil over medium heat until tender, about 10 minutes. Scrape the onion into a large slow cooker. Add the carrots, garlic, cumin, cinnamon, honey, cayenne and broth. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours, or until the carrots are tender. Let cool slightly.
Transfer the soup to a blender and puree until smooth, or use an immersion blender. Add the lemon juice and taste for seasonings. Reheat the soup if necessary. Spoon the soup into bowls, top with a little yogurt and the herbs, if using, and serve.
Margaret Sams of James Island sends this recipe:
Crock-Pot Cola Roast
1 (4- to 5-pound) beef roast
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 (12-ounce) can cola
12 ounces chili sauce
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons hot pepper sauce
In small bowl, mix salt, pepper and garlic powder and rub all over the surface of the meat very well.
In large pan on top of stove heat the vegetable oil and brown meat on both sides.
Move to a slow cooker that has been heating on high. Add other ingredients and pour over roast. Cook on high for about 2 hours then reduce heat and continue cooking for about 2-3 more hours, or until really tender.
Not to leave pork out, I searched in the “Slow Cooker Revolution” cookbook by America's Test Kitchen and found this:
Smothered Pork Chops With Onions and Bacon
4 ounces bacon, (about 4 slices) chopped
3 onions, halved and sliced 1/2 inch thick
4 teaspoons brown sugar
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 bay leaves
6 (7-ounce) bone-in blade-cut pork chops, about 3/4 inch thick
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
Cook bacon in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat until crisp, 5 to 7 minutes; transfer to slow cooker. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons bacon fat left in the skillet.
Add onions, 1 teaspoons sugar, garlic and thyme to fat in skillet and cook over medium-high heat until onions are softened and well browned, about 10 minutes. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in broth, scraping up any browned bits and smoothing out any lumps; transfer to slow cooker.
Stir remaining tablespoon sugar, soy sauce and bay leaves into slow cooker.
To prevent pork chop from curling, cut two slits, about 2 inches apart, into one side of each chop. Season chops with salt and pepper and nestle into slow cooker. Cover and cook until pork is tender, 6 to 8 hours on low or 3 to 5 hours on high.
Transfer pork chops to serving platter, tent loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for 10 minutes. Let braising liquid settle for 5 minutes, then remove fat from surface using large spoon. Discard bay leaves. Stir in vinegar and parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon 1 cup sauce over chops and serve with remaining sauce.
Who's got the recipe?
An Isle of Palms reader is seeking jerk chicken recipes.
Looking for a recipe or have one to share? Reach Features Editor Teresa Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org or 937-4886.