When I read or hear lists of the greatest inventions of the last century, I am always amazed when one of my favorites is left off of the list. Now, don’t get me wrong, the microwave has changed the face of food, but, the crockpot may be my favorite invention of the 20th century.
OK, turn your snob level down. It is a low and slow cooker that lets you prep early and then come home to a wonderfully prepared meal. The bonus is how great your house smells when you walk in.
Chefs are all now using the sous-vide method of cooking. You can run right out and buy a machine for several hundred dollars. The machine keeps the water at the perfect temperature that you choose for the food you are cooking. Place your protein or whatever in a vacuum bag and immerse. The food will never overcook.
You can overcook meat in many ways. Regardless of boiling, braising, baking, roasting or whatever, if you get the internal temperature too high, the meat will be dry and lifeless.
Crockpots let you prepare the whole recipe to cook low and slow. Meat with lots of fibrous stuff turns out “falling off the fork” tender. If you keep you cooker on low, it has a tendency to do the same thing as the sous-vide method, with an affordable price point.
If you don’t own a crockpot, go get one! Mine has a lift our pot for easy cleaning. My aunt swears by hers to cook whole turkey and chicken breasts. Roasts and large cuts of pork do benefit from the carmelization that comes from searing them on the stove first before putting them in the pot. But man, surround them with some vegetables and just a little sauce and you will be duly comforted.
Here is one of my mother’s favorite crockpot recipes. It was in the little book that came with the one she bought over 40 years ago. It is cooking in my kitchen in my crockpot as I write this. Tonight, when I arrive home, this place will smell FANTASTIC!
Crockpot Hamburger Casserole:
2 large potatoes, sliced
2 -3 medium carrots, sliced
1 cup frozen peas, thawed and drained
3 medium onions, sliced
2 stalks celery, sliced
garlic salt, to taste
salt and pepper, to taste
1 lb. ground beef, browned and drained
1 (10 3/4 ounce) can tomato soup
1 (10 3/4 ounce) can water
Layer vegetables in order given into slow cooker.
Sprinkle each layer with garlic salt, pepper, and salt.
Place meat on top of celery.
Combine soup and water.
Pour over all and cover and cook on low for 8 hours.