Ode to the crockpot

So, here it is May and I am blogging about my damn crock pot. Normally, this would be a perfect post for Autumn. Considering my timing has always been a bit off, I’m right on schedule. Hell, I grill in January – why wouldn’t I use my crock pot in the summer?

the history

The slow cooker was developed from an electrical bean pot invented in the 1960s to steep dry beans. In 1971 the Crock-Pot, a slow cooker that could produce full meals in one pot, was released. Immediately, the Crock-Pot took off  –  the brand became as ubiquitous as Kleenex.* 

random tidbit of nonsense – crockpot, crock pot, and crock-pot are all acceptable 

the concept

The appliance cooks based on a combination of wattage and time. When turned on, the electrical coils heat up and transfer heat indirectly from the outer casing to the space between the base wall and the stoneware container. As the food cooks, it releases steam, which the lid traps. The condensation creates a vacuum seal between the lid and the rim of the crock, which adds moisture to the food while helping the cooking process. There are three temperature settings.

  • Low: 200 degrees Fahrenheit
  • High: 300 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Warm: 165 to 175 degrees Fahrenheit

the rules of thumb

  • Cut up large meats and brown them beforehand –I always cut up my meat, baby. But that browning shit just ain’t gonna happen. Defeats the whole purpose behind the concept. Just don’t cut your actual thumb!
  • Submerge your meats completely – very important
  • Use broth instead of water – good idea

the go-to’s

Chicken chili – a staple that has never failed me yet!

pulled pork  – this is a two-part recipe. I slow cook the cubed meat,  ‘pull’ it into another dish, add the sauce, and throw it in the over to finish up.

broth – beef/bone or vegetable – always delicious and super easy

side note – I have made a pot roast that was quite sexy. Unfortunately my pot is too small to accommodate a large roast. It’s a personal problem I’ve come to terms with. Actually, that’s not true. I still have issues with that – it’s a total crock!

(that was a bit dramatic, but I so wanted to use that phrase)

the never go there’s

  • lasagna – My favorite part of lasagna is the crispy brown mozzarella cheese topping.  Granted, I have never had crock pot lasagna, but I fear my favorite part would be … limp.  I’m 56 – things go flaccid unintentionally. Why would I want my lasagna to follow suit?
  • dessert – of any kind – Gross– end of story. Once again, I am all about firmness. Crock pot recipes tend to be very moist, but when a dessert is concerned I need texture, too. Lastly, I usually associate bread pudding with crock pot dessert. So NOT a bread pudding fan. Just to come full circle – Gross

And, some things I have tried and will never go ‘there’ again –

  • whole chicken – it tasted like chicken soup. I love chicken soup. But if I wanted to have it, I would’ve made soup.
  • beef stew – this is, like, the staple of slow cooking recipes. I am NOT a staple of any kind, I’ve tried two different recipes and both were a complete fail. In this case, the third time will NOT be the charm.

Well, that’s about it.  It felt really good to Ode; it’s been a minute. Moreover, this idea has been on the back burner for a while. Better yet, it’s been slow-cooked!

patience is a virtue!

*there is nothing special about this phrase. I just bold-faced because I like the word ubiquitous!