Crockpot cooking is something short of a miracle, isn’t it? If you’re not quite sold, here me out. You can rummage through your cabinets, pantry, refrigerator and/or freezer, find a bunch of ingredients that work well together, throw all the ingredients into a pot AT THE SAME TIME, put on a lid, turn a knob to the heat setting you desire, and ...wait for it…. you can forget about the food cooking and get important things done like work, errands, new year's resolutions or the essential netflix binge in your pajamas on a Sunday afternoon. If you cannot appreciate the miraculous nature of cooking an amazingly tasty, hot meal while getting a long list of “to-do’s” done, without having to slave over a stove for hours, then you must eat out a lot :)
But in all seriousness, crockpots are my absolute favorite kitchen gadget right now. I just recently made a three bean ground turkey chili in my crockpot at home. In an effort to be cost-effective, I choose to use all canned ingredients instead of buying fresh produce. In some cases, this kind of a swap can compromise flavor. However, in the case of the magical crockpot, it doesn’t matter if you use fresh ingredients or canned varieties, the deliciousness factor of the meal remains the same- lip-smacking, aw’ing and oh’ing goodness. Yes, the crockpot cooking method had a lot to do with the flavorful end-product, but a couple simple techniques I’ve learned over the past couple months helped make the chili something special.
So what are these “simple techniques” I’m talking about? I’ll tell you. USE SPICES! Don’t be afraid of spices, and don’t cut corners by leaving them out because you don’t want to buy them at the store. Spices bring out the natural flavors within the ingredients while simultaneously infusing their own flavor profile into the food. Second, BROWN GROUND MEAT before adding it to the crockpot. This adds nice texture and flavor to a crockpot meal (I did this with the ground turkey when making my chili). Lastly, allow adequate TIME for all the flavors in your recipe to mingle in the crockpot (on average, 3-4 hours on high or 6-8 hrs on low). I gave my chili time to rehearse its flavor profile and it sure did make for a beautiful performance in my mouth when I gobbled it down.
With all this talk about crockpot cooking techniques, I almost forgot to share my most recent experience using a crockpot… wait, I guess four crockpots would be more accurate. Last Thursday at Verdant Community Wellness Center in Lynwood I helped lead a Crockpot cooking class. It was a hit! We made four simple, nutrient-dense recipes: salsa chicken, salsa lentils, fajita vegetables and brown rice. Now, most people don’t have four crockpots laying around their house to be able to pull this off, so don’t think your underprepared for crockpot cooking if you only have one in your home. This was a cooking class meant to boast the versatility of a crockpot. That’s the only reason we made several recipes at once.
Are you bummed you weren’t a part of the Crockpot cooking class? Although I can’t give you a time-machine to go back and attend the class, I can grant you the next best thing! Fire up those crockpots, below are the recipes for each dish we prepared in the class. And since I’m in the recipe sharing mood, it only seems fair to share the three bean ground turkey chili recipe I was bragging about. Here ya go: http://ifoodreal.com/instant-pot-chili/. Hope you enjoy all these recipes as much as I do!
Peace, love and crockpots,
A place for our consultant Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) to share nutrition science, yummy and healthy recipes, tips on seasonal ingredients, and other nutritional musings. Enjoy!