Set-Up For Slow Cooking Success

CateRitterNothing says “home” quite like the feeling you get when you open the front door and experience the aroma of a freshly cooked meal waiting for you. For busy business professionals and golfers, slow cooking, otherwise known as “crockpotting” is a great way to make healthy meals with little clean up and plenty of leftovers. You’ll find that by using these 4 simple tips, anyone can come out looking like a pro in the kitchen.

1. Select the Right Ingredients

Cheaper, tougher, more fibrous cuts of meat are best for slow cooking. The moist heat and long duration of cooking breaks down tough fibers, giving meat a rich and juicy flavor.

Look for: “braise,” “stew,” “simmering,” “pot roast”

  • Beef: chuck, rump, shank, short ribs, brisket, prime rib, rib roast
  • Pork: shoulder/butter/blade/rib roast, tenderloin, rack, rib chops
  • Lamb: shoulder, shank, leg
  • Poultry: legs, thighs, breasts
  • Firm veggies such as potatoes and carrots are excellent for long periods of cooking.
  • Tender veggies such as zucchini and kale are best added during the last hour to prevent overcooking.

2. Brown the Meat and Aromatics

Start by browning the meat and aromatics such as onions and garlic to give your dish a nice deep flavor. Use a paper towel to pat the meat dry. Then, get a large skillet nice and hot. Add coconut oil, swirling to coat the skillet, then add the meat. Don’t overcrowd the skillet or the meat will steam instead of brown. Cook in batches if needed. Brown the meat for 5 minutes a side or until a nice crust develops. Remove the meat and add aromatic vegetables, cooking until they become golden and you can smell them (hence aromatic).

3. Add the Right Amount of Liquid

Liquids don’t evaporate in a crock pot so you’ll want to fill the slow cooker at least 1/2 way, but no more than 2/3 full. This can be with water, chicken broth, wine, coconut milk, or any other flavorful liquid.

4. Season Later

Add sea salt, pepper, spices and fresh herbs before serving. Not only are herbs packed with antioxidants, but they add a tremendous amount of flavor and color.

Try these three delicious recipes to get started slow cooking!

Strawberry Walnut Oatmeal

Serves 8

Ingredients

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 cups steel-cut oats

8 cups water

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

4 cups fresh strawberries

2 cups walnuts, chopped

Instructions

  • Add all ingredients to the slow cooker.
  • Cook covered on “low” for 6 hours. Top with berries and nuts before serving.

Note: After cooking on “low” for 6 hours, your slow cooker should automatically switch to the “warm” setting so that you can prep this dish before bed and enjoy it upon waking.

 

Cheesy Bacon & Eggs

Serves 6-8

Ingredients 

12 eggs

2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded

1 cup cooked bacon/ham, diced

1 cup heavy cream

4 scallions, chopped finely

1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions

  • Beat the eggs in a medium bowl and add to the slow cooker with the remaining ingredients.
  • Cook covered on low for 4 hours.

Note: After cooking on “low” for 4 hours, your slow cooker should automatically switch to the “warm” setting so that you can prep this dish before bed and enjoy it upon waking.

 

Chicken Cacciatore 

Serves 6-12

Ingredients

2 tablespoons coconut oil

2 onions, minced

2 teaspoon of each: garlic powder, dried oregano, red pepper flakes

1 cup chicken broth

2 cups crimini mushrooms

1/4 cup tomato paste

14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes, drained

12 chicken thighs, bone-in, skinless

Fine sea salt and pepper

1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped

Instructions

  • Pre-heat a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add oil, onions, herbs and spices. Stirring occasionally, cook for 5 minutes. Transfer to slow cooker with remaining ingredients (except basil). Cook covered on “low” for 6 hours.
  • Season and garnish with basil before serving.

 

Cate Ritter is a Certified Nutritionist & Kitchen Coach. Please visit www.catesnutrition.com.