Friday, September 17, 2010

What a Crock!

The very first kitchen gadget that I ever bought was a crockpot.  I bought it when I lived in the dorms in college.  My Kitchen consisted of a microFridge and the crockpot.  I learned how to make chili, beef stew and that was about it.  The crockpot filled the entire dorm with the smell of whatever it was that I was having for dinner that night, and I can tell you that it was far better than the microwaved Kraft dinner that just about everyone else was having.

Over the intervening years I have had 3 different slow cookers.  The one from college was a small round one without a removable insert.  Eventually washing it out in the sink in the bathroom fried the electronics and it stopped working. 

When I got married we bought another crockpot and learned a few more recipes like chicken chili. 

After bringing 3 hungry boys into the world our little round crockpot wasn't cutting the mustard anymore.  We upgraded to the super sized oval model with a removable (and therefore MUCH easier to clean) insert.  I have been happily feeding my family slow cooked meals ever since. 

I realize that slowcooker cooking isn't generally considered "gourmet" but it's still a great way to get dinner on the table and still be able to maintain a shred of your sanity.  And don't let anyone tell you that the only thing you can make is chili or beef stew.  Case in point:

Slow cooker Chicken with White Wine and Tarragon
(from some Cooks Illustrated recipe book that I can't remember) 

1.  Brown the chicken.  Ok - fact is I HATE having to brown meat before I put it in the crock pot.  For me, crock pot cooking is all about throwing some stuff in, setting the timer and walking away.  The browning really harshes my crock pot mellow....but the results are worth it, so I'll suck it up. 

2.  Cook the veggies until soft (ugh again with the stove top!!) add some garlic and then deglaze with some white wine - we're talking, the recipe takes about 1/2 a bottle of wine the rest you can do with as you see fit.  

3.  Put it all in the crock pot with some carrots for about 4 hours on low.

4.  Take a Nap, get your hair done, watch Oprah....whatever floats you boat...

5.  Remove the chicken breasts and add a whole bunch of cream mixed with some flour.  Cook on high for about 15 min.  This takes the dish from being relatively low fat to a cholesterol bonanza...but hey, you only live once right?

6.  Add tarragon and some lemon juice and serve!

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