Sunday, January 13, 2008

I love slow cookers

One of the least used appliances in the modern kitchen in my humble opinion is the slow cooker.

What could be better? You toss your ingredients in the morning before you leave for work, and when you come home, they are ready to eat. Plus, it makes your house smell fantastic.

I own a 6 quart stoneware slow cooker and a "little dipper" for keeping dips warm at parties. While I was cooking this dish, I went to Target for some other things and picked up a 4 quart oval red stoneware cooker that I've had my eye on, so I can make side dishes to go with my main dish and for other reasons that require smaller cookers (see below). There are some really fantastic recipes out there for slow cookers...ranging from gourmet to just toss and go. I just love slow cookers. I try to use mine at least once a week. They are the best. It took me a little while to get over the fear that it would burn my house down, but I think I'm there. I've never handled a fire that originated from a slow cooker left on when no one was at home. (And if there is anyone out there that has, zip it...I like to live in my ignorance.)

Today, I made teriyaki chicken with orange sauce for friend C came over for dinner.

Dad and Susan, this one's for you! Get that slow cooker out!

Teriyaki Chicken with Orange Sauce

1 pound skinned boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1" pieces
16 oz package of frozen vegetables (carrots, water chestnuts and broccoli)
2 Tbsp quick cooking tapioca (dry)
3/4 c chicken broth
3 Tbsp orange marmalade
2 Tbsp teriyaki sauce
1 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp ground ginger

Spray slow cooker pot with vegetable spray for easy clean-up. Place frozen vegetables on the bottom of a 4-qt slow cooker. (Obviously I used a 6 qt since that's all I had at the time of cooking.) Sprinkle tapioca over vegetables and stir to combine. Place chicken on top of vegetables. In small bowl, combine remaining ingredients and whisk until combined. Pour over chicken. Cover and cook on either low for 4-5 hours or high for 2-2.5 hours. Serve over hot cooked white rice.

What I liked about this dinner: Very, VERY fast to prepare. My friend was coming over at 7 and I had to get it started by 3 and started prepping at 2:40. Very, very quick.
What I disliked about this dinner: I'm not sure if it was the length of the cooking time or the fact that I used a 6 qt cooker and the recipe called for a four, but the broccoli got very, very, very mushy and a little bland. For me, that's GOOD because I don't like broccoli, but if you like your broc a little crisp, you might want to cut the cooking time down and start checking it at about four hours on low.
Cool kitchen gadgets used: I used all broccoli instead of the mixed vegetables since that's what I had left over and I don't really care for water chestnuts anyway. I had a Ziploc bag of it in the freezer that I keep adding to as I made dishes. Thanks to my new Sauder digital kitchen scale that I bought a few weeks ago, I was able to tell that I had exactly a pound of frozen broccoli that was left over from several dishes that I've made over the last month....namely a chicken broc lasagna for a coworker and a vegetable casserole that I made for Christmas Eve. Waste not, want not!
Tastiness factor: It smelled great when I was whisking the sauce and even better as it started to cook. At about four hours, all I could smell was the broccoli cooking. It was pretty good. Not the best Chinese dish I've ever had, but it was pretty good. I'll enjoy the leftovers. My dinner guest said it was okay, but too sweet for her taste. I think I would probably try this again as I do like sweet chicken dishes and probably try it in my 4 qt cooker with less time to see if that helped anything.


Blogger Suz said...

I live and die by the crock pot. Like you said, how much better can it possibly get to come home to warm already-cooked meal?

I use the foodsaver with mine. We'll make a bunch of servings (since the crockpot is a little big for the two of us) and then split the left overs into foodsaver bags and seal them and then freeze them. Since you can boil the bags, they're perfect for reheating in a boiling pot (I prefer that to microwave.

1:30 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home