Magazine article Sunset

Saved by the Slow-Cooker

Magazine article Sunset

Saved by the Slow-Cooker

Article excerpt

Four surprising ways this tool can see you through the season

we're GOING TO GO out on a limb - ?\ bough - and say this: No kitchen should be without a slow-cooker over the holidays. It saves you hours, frees up oven space, feeds a crowd, and can cook just about anything. Here, we use the versatile tool to meet four needs for this time of year, including a party drink, a special-occasion roast, and a quick postshopping dinner. Plus, slow-cookers are ridiculously easy to use. (If you don't already have one, see page 84 for our buying guide.) Just choose high or low heat, and you're good to go.

The special occasion

Cider pork roast with apple-thyme gravy

SERVES 6 TO 8 | 5 TO 7V2 HOURS

Delicious with cheesy mashed potatoes and a green salad, this dish is special enough for guests, but homey enough for Sunday dinners with the family.

1 boneless pork shoulder roast (about 3V2 lbs.), tied (ask a butcher to do this)

IV2 tsp. kosher salt, divided

2 tbsp. olive oil

IV2 cups apple cider

Vs cup Calvados or other apple brandy

1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. finely chopped fresh thyme leaves, divided, plus sprigs for garnish

1 tsp. pepper

4 Gala apples, peeled, cored, and sliced; divided

3 tbsp. butter, divided

1 tbsp. flour

i. Sprinkle pork with V2 tsp. salt, then brown in oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat, turning as needed, 10 minutes. Transfer pork and pan juices to a 5- to 6-qt. slow-cooker. Add remaining 1 tsp. salt, the cider, Calvados, 1 tbsp. thyme, the pepper, and 1 sliced apple. Cover and cook until meat is very tender, about 4 hours on high or 7 hours on low.

2. Meanwhile, about 20 minutes before pork is done, heat 2 tbsp. butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add remaining 3 apples and cook, stirring frequently, until tender and light golden, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl; tent with foil.

3. Transfer roast from slow-cooker to a platter and tent with foil. Strain slowcooker juices and skim fat; set aside. Melt remaining 1 tbsp. butter in frying pan. Add flour; cook, whisking often, until golden and bubbling. Slowly whisk in juices and 1 tsp. thyme; cook until slightly thickened, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a gravy boat.

4. Slice pork, scatter with reserved apples, and drizzle with gravy. Garnish with thyme sprigs and serve more gravy on the side.

PER SIKVIN6 442 CAL., 36* (lS9 CAL.) FROM FAT; 37 g protein; is g fat (7.2 G sat.); 17 g carbo (2.2 G FIBER); 445 MG SODIUM; 131 MG CHOL.

The open house

Mulled pomegranate and red wine punch

7½ CUPS [ 1 TO 2 HOURS

When your stove is full, use a slow-cooker to simmer this tangy, aromatic mulled wine, and let guests serve themselves.

1 qt. pomegranate juice

1 bottle (750 ml.) fruity red wine, such as Zinfandel

2 cinnamon sticks (each 2? in. long)

6 cardamom pods

¼ cup honey

Stir all ingredients together in a 4- to 6-qt. slow-cooker; cover. Cook until very hot, about 1 hour on high or 2 hours on low; once hot, keep warm on low heat up to 4 hours.

PER 1-CUP SERVING 201 CAL., 0* FROM FAT; 0.7 G PROTEIN; 0.1 G FAT (? G SAT.); 32 G CARBO (? G FIBER); 17 MG SODIUM; 0 MG CHOL.

The busy weekniglit

Flageolet beans with rosemary and thyme

SERVES 4 (8 OR 9 AS A SIDE)

2V2 TO 43/4 HOURS

Make a big pot of this easy vegetarian dish for a hassle-free dinner or side. There's no need to soak the beans beforehand; they cook up tender straight from the package.

12 oz. dried flageolet beans

6 garlic cloves, peeled

2 tsp. kosher salt

2 tsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves, plus sprigs for garnish

2 tsp. …

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