Posts Tagged ‘slow cooker’
I, for one, am not Catholic, but of the Christian faith. My family was not strict about Lent, but we did follow a no meat policy on Fridays. We used to go to the local fish market, every Friday during Lent, as they would make deep fried fish meals, for just about the whole town. Deep fried flounder, shrimp, scallops, and clam strips, with french fries and cole slaw on the side. And boy, did they make a mean cole slaw. Probably one of the best I have ever eaten, and have never been able to replicate no matter how hard I’ve tried.
I have decided not to fire up my outdoor propane deep fryer this evening for a fish fry, (Maybe on Friday), and have opted for using my slow cooker to make a nice pot of jambalaya this evening. I have shrimp, chicken and Andouille sausage for my jambalaya and I have some pulled pork on the side. The red wine is flowing already. Yes, I am over indulging before Lent, but I plan on putting the FAT in Fat Tuesday.
For dessert, my sister and I both are going to follow a tradition of a different sort. This Fat Tuesday, would have been my Pop’s 72nd birthday. My mom always made him cream puffs for his birthday. They were his favorite. I have never made them before, so I am in new territory here. Mom always made a batch of vanilla pudding and chocolate pudding to fill our puffs with. I have done the same, but of course over indulged and made custard out of the vanilla. I have some confectioners sugar to sprinkle on top.
Spring is starting be make itself known where I live. The spring equinox does not actually arrive for about 3 more weeks, but I have started seeing my bulbs popping up around the yard. No flowers yet, but I can see some foliage popping. We have had a winter here, to rival those of days gone by. I, all of my 44 years upon this earth, here on Long Island, have never seen this much snow. I remember having a good blast every February and it was usually cold enough to last for about 2 weeks. But, anyhow, it has been a long winter, which is kind of unusual for these parts. We are usually directly affected by the Gulf Stream. The snowy weather is not usually part of our region. Colder temps. but usually quite mild.
I am usually an all winter griller. My grill and outdoor propane deep fryer were under so much snow this year that it was too big of a deal to dig a path to the grill. We were shoveling out the driveway and the sidewalks like every other day. I didn’t have the gumption to did a path anywhere else. So I settled for all indoor cooking this winter. Slow cooker, cast iron Dutch oven, my Crock Pot BBQ Pit, my counter top deep fryer, and I used the broiler a few times. This really has to be the first winter that I did not grill outdoors at all.
Well, spring has finally sprung as far as I am concerned. All the snow has finally melted in my yard. I can get to my grill & my Cajun Fryer. I think that it is time for a good old fashioned barbecue and fish fry. Seeing that Fat Tuesday is upon us, I may just have to make this happen. I need to get a big old pot of jambalaya going, deep fry some fresh fish and grill up some brisket and ribs.
Of course, my outdoor cooking equipment has been outside, under wraps, but outside. It never gets put away because normally I could be seen in the middle of January grilling steak or doing Beer Can chicken. So seeing as my cooking gear has spent the winter under a pile of snow, I guess I will have to give it all a thorough once over. Check my hoses and regulators and my propane tanks. (Yes, I said tanks. I keep 3 at all times. One for my grill, one for my deep fryer, and one spare.) This should be done normally anyway, but as I said, this past winter has been an anomaly. My grill has never gone this long without food on it. I cooked a prime rib in my grill for Christmas dinner, and it hasn’t gotten any love since. My Cajun Fryer hasn’t been used since Thanksgiving. I had planned to deep fry half of my freezer stores on Superbowl Sunday and for The Daytona 500, but there has just been too much snow.
This week is the week I intend to give my cooking equipment a whole lotta love. I am going to deep fry a turkey breast, and some fish. I am going to fire up my grill. The gloves are off, or I guess I should be putting them on. It’s time to get back outside and start cooking again!
In this fast paced world, with both parents working, but maybe both parents not sharing the work load…what Mom doesn’t need more time? I don’t want to be unfair to any of the Dad’s out there that share the work load…and I don’t mean just mowing the grass once a week and washing the car. Being a parent is a job in itself, but working, taking care of kids, doing housework, cooking, cleaning, dishes, homework, managing the bills…has typically been laid on Mom’s shoulders while Dad works had, but comes home to relax from his hard day at work & Mom’s second job is just starting.
I myself, my kids older now, but going to college and both with jobs, am working 8 hours. I run a business from home on the side, take care of my partially handicapped significant other, and I just started some online college courses. What was I thinking??? I didn’t have time for myself before…I really have no time now. I cook, clean, do the bills, laundry, etc all on top of the other 12 hours a day that I need for my job, business, school, etc. Who doesn’t need some extra time?
Any thing to save time is a God send. A counter top deep fryer or counter top slow cooker is just what the doctor ordered. With a little prep while the oil is heating, you can have dinner deep fried in half the time it would take to roast something in the oven. Or, better yet, some prep early morning before work with a slow cooker, and viola! Dinner is already ready when you get home. Just need to ladle it into bowls or serve onto plates and you are good to go.
A little work, yet awesome meals, in half the time. Just what every Mom needs!
I know many people that are either not exchanging gifts at all this year, or putting names in a hat and everyone picks one name. My sister has decided to have a craft night a work, one night a week, so that everyone can get together and make gifts. At my house, we are just going to have a tree and get together and have a nice dinner and share each others’ company.
I know that the economists say that the recession is over…but I am just not seeing it. I still see people struggling. I am hearing daily about people still being laid off, loosing jobs, and getting another extension on their unemployment or just running out of unemployment all together.
It has come to getting creative with presents. If you are going to buy a gift for someone, make sure that it is something that they can use, more than once. Not some frivolous piece of jewelery, or another ugly sweater. Giving someone a unique item to help them prepare food, an item that they may not already have is a great idea. Get something like a deep fryer, a grill, a slow cooker, a BBQ smoker.
Everyone has to eat. A piece of cast iron cookware is a gift, that if taken care of properly, will last a lifetime. It won’t just break down after a while or need new parts. It won’t get moth eaten or never be worn. A Dutch oven or cast iron skillet is an item that can be used every day. It can be cooked with indoors on your stove top, you can bake, roast and braise with them in your oven. You can also bring them outdoors and place them right on your grill. They can even be placed on an open fire or right into the hot coals at a campsite. Some simple cooking techniques may need to be learned for outdoor campfire cooking, but as far as indoor cooking goes, cast iron works just like any other pan. If seasoned properly, they have a great non-stick surface. Some care needs to go into washing…NO Dish Soap!!! But if you loose the seasoning on your pan…it can always be re-seasoned. Let’s see you do that with a non-stick pan! Most non-stick pots end up in the trash once their coating starts to go, or gets scratched over time and starts to flake away. That will never happen with cast iron cookware.
Slow cookers make great gifts too. Especially for someone that may have had to go back to work, or take on another job. These items are great for moms. A little preparation in the morning before work, place the unit on low, come home, and dinner is usually done. Stews, soups, roasts, can all be busy cooking while you are at work. And everything cooked in one pan. There are even slow cookers with separations so that you may cook 2 or even 3 different items at time. There are also many recipes, and helpful sites out there regarding slow cookers. Lots of advice for working people to help make life a little easier.
So, keep helpful cooking implements in mind while shopping for your friends and family.
The best pulled pork that I ever had was at my sister’s wedding. She cooked it herself starting at midnight, the night before her wedding. She was given a partial recipe. What kind of meat, a rub recipe, and the procedure. The people that gave her the recipe hold the secret to the sauce. Family secret only. They would not give her the sauce recipe, in fact, they came to the wedding with the sauce already made, to be added to the meat just prior to serving. The meat was so good that my sister almost did not get to partake in it. Luckily enough, while she was changing, I made her & myself a sandwich and we got to eat it together. By the time we made it out to the hall, all of the pork was gone! I took some time researching and I stumbled upon 2 separate recipes by Tyler Florence. They are both relatively the same, but the procedures are different. It is the closest I have been able to come to the delectable pulled pork at my sister’s wedding. Here is my one recipe that I have made from a combination of Tyler’s two.
Cooking pulled pork can happen in a day, but making a great pulled pork should start days ahead of time.
First you want to get yourself a good piece of meat. About 5-7 lbs. Most traditionalists use a boneless pork butt or picnic. The fat in a pork butt will make for a beautiful tender piece of meat to work with. But you can also use pork tenderloin. They are leaner than a pork butt. The pork tenderloin will fall apart as well but you may need to go a little heavier with your sauce.
Now that you have this wonderful piece of meat at home, slather it with some stone ground mustard. (I had a jar of a wonderful mustard from Otter Creek Brewery in Vermont, that I used the last time I made this recipe. It was a roasted garlic, beer mustard that they made with their copper ale. It worked quite well). About 1\2 cup or more. Rub it all over and into the cut if using a boneless butt. Wrap the meat in plastic wrap. Place it in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
Now you want to make your rub:
3 Tbsp. Kosher salt
1 Tbsp. garlic pepper
1 1\2 cup packed brown sugar
1\4 cup smoked paprika
1 Tbsp. dried mustard
1 Tbsp. cayenne pepper
2-3 sprigs of thyme, leaves only
Mix this all together and after the pork has marinated in the mustard for 24 hours, unwrap the meat and cover it with the rub. All of it. Get it in every nook and cranny. Re-wrap the meat and put it back in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours more.
Now you are ready to cook.
Take your meat out and let it come down to room temperature, about 30 mins.
You need to decide how you want to cook the meat. You can place it in the oven. You can cook it in a BBQ smoker or BBQ pit. You can cook it in a slow cooker. I personally put mine in a unit made by Crock Pot called a BBQ Pit. It’s just a slow cooker with a BBQ grill style lid. It works great with meats, ribs, and roasts.
For this application I am going to reference a slow cooker.
Before placing your meat into the slow cooker, add:
2-3 cloves crushed garlic
1 1\2 cups apple cider vinegar
Either 1\2 cup ketchup or 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
Now place your meat in the cooker. Turn the slow cooker to low & cook for about 8 hours.
When the meat is done, remove from the unit. Place it in a glass dish and pull apart with forks.
Separate the fat from the sauce.
You can either pour half of the sauce right into the meat and serve the rest on the side like an au jus, or just put the meat on some nice ciabatta rolls and have the sauce for dipping on the side.
Serve with cole slaw either on the roll or on the side.
This is a great recipe for tailgating race weekends. Start up the slow cooker after breakfast and when you get back from the track, dinner’s ready!
The key to making good Rouladen is a slow low temperature cook. You can cook it in your slow cooker if you like, but I did not have the time for that yesterday, so I used my cast iron Dutch oven instead. It worked just as well if not better. All of the browning, cooking, and gravy making were all done in one pot, on my stove top.
6-8 beef round steaks (2-2 1\2 lbs. ask butcher to cut it for you)
1 jar of ground brown mustard
1 lb bacon
1 jar of sandwich sliced dill pickle
1 onion, mince
1 14.5 oz. can beef broth
1 12 oz. jar of beef au jus
1 tbsp. tomato paste
salt and pepper
Pound the round steaks flat with a mallet if necessary. Spread each steak with mustard, tsp. to a tbsp. depending on the size of the round. Place the equivalent of 2 strips of uncooked bacon on each round, cutting it to fit the size of the round. Place 2 dill pickle sandwich slices on each round. Sprinkle with minced onions. Roll up the rounds like a jelly roll starting with the small end. Tie up with kitchen string.
In your Dutch oven, heat some oil. Throw in any scraps of bacon fat or left over pieces and any left over onion. Brown, then put in your Rouladen and brown on all sides. Once browned, add the broth, tomato paste, and au jus. Make sure the meat is covered at least 3\4 of the way. Place the lid on your Dutch oven, set the heat to low. Cook for 2 hours. Remove the Rouladen to a warm oven. Make gravy with the stock in the pot. Return the Rouladen to the gravy. Serve with spaetzel and sweet and sour red cabbage. Potato pancakes and apple sauce work well too. Find your self a nice cold pale ale or pilsner. Cut the strings and eat hearty.