Magazine article Sunset

Slow and Easy: Melt-in-Your-Mouth Entrees That Make the Most of Slow-Cookers

Magazine article Sunset

Slow and Easy: Melt-in-Your-Mouth Entrees That Make the Most of Slow-Cookers

Article excerpt

Our favorite way to make cozy winter foods is by braising--slowly cooking meats or vegetables in liquid until they're very tender. But since long cooking requires regular attention, it's not a great solution for busy cooks. Happily, slow-cookers are back in vogue, many with handy programmable features (see "Crock Talk," page 74). So give them another look; they make slow cooking seem downright speedy.

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SIMPLE WEEKDAY MEAL

Spicy Shredded Beef

A little like a Mexican sloppy Joe, this juicy dish is best sandwiched in crusty French rolls and topped with shredded cabbage, red onion, sliced tomato, cilantro, and sour cream.

PREP AND COOK TIME: About 30 minutes, plus 8 to 10 hours in the slow-cooker

MAKES: 6 to 8 servings

NOTES: Chipotle sauce, made by San Marcos, Knorr, and other brands, can be found at Whole Foods and Mexican markets or on MexGrocer.com. Save extra sauce to top Mexican rice or cooked pinto beans.

2 1/2 pounds boned beef chuck
    1 can (14 1/2 oz.) chopped tomatoes
    1 can (7 oz.) chipotle sauce (see notes), or 7 ounces spicy salsa
    1 can (4 oz.) diced jalapeno chiles, drained
    1 onion, chopped
    3 cloves garlic, minced
    2 tablespoons ground dried New Mexico chile or regular chili powder
    1 tablespoon honey
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
    1 teaspoon ground cumin
    2 cups beef broth

1. Rinse beef and trim off excess fat. Put in a slow-cooker (at least 5 qt.). Add tomatoes (with juice), chipotle sauce or salsa, jalapenos, onion, garlic, ground chile, honey, salt, and cumin; pour broth over the top.

2. Cover and cook on low until beef is very tender when pierced, 8 to 10 hours. If desired, remove lid for last 30 minutes to allow sauce to reduce and thicken.

3. With a heavy fork, transfer meat to a rimmed board or plate. Shred with two forks. Ladle out half the sauce and reserve (see notes). Return shredded beef to the remaining sauce in slow-cooker, cover, and let warm. Serve in sandwiches.

Per serving: 261 cal., 38% (99 cal.) from fat; 30 g protein; 11 g fat (4 g sat.); 10 g carbo (1.8 g fiber); 1,198 mg sodium; 92 mg chol.

MAKE-AHEAD

WEEKDAY DINNER

Moroccan Vegetable Stew

This dish is rich in nuts and spices and sweetened with currants. To make it in advance, just cook the spices and chop the vegetables the night before. Refrigerate in the crock overnight, then start it in the morning. Serve with couscous and a dollop of plain yogurt.

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PREP AND COOK TIME: About 40 minutes, plus 8 to 9 hours in the slow-cooker

MAKES: 12 cups; 6 to 8 servings

    2 tablespoons olive oil
    3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed with the side of a knife
    1 teaspoon ground coriander
    1 teaspoon ground cumin
  1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    5 cups chicken or vegetable broth
    4 carrots (12 oz. total), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch lengths
2 1/2 cups diced peeled eggplant
2 1/2 cups sliced (1/2 in. thick) zucchini
    2 cups cauliflower florets
    1 cup diced onion (about 5 oz.)
    2 cans (14 1/2 oz. each) stewed tomatoes
    1 can (15 oz.) garbanzos, drained and rinsed
  3/4 cup dried currants
    1 cup chopped toasted almonds
  1/2 tablespoon kosher salt

1. Pour olive oil into a small frying pan over medium-low heat. …

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