Slow Cookin'

| 9/9/2014 2:53:00 PM

Acorn and ThistleMy slow cooker is easily 15 years old or more. It’s not much to look at, and it only has three settings: Off, Low and High. But you know what? It’s pretty darn close to perfect. It does everything I want it to do, namely cook things evenly and thoroughly, without much help from me at all. I set it up, walk away … and 6 to 8 hours later, we have a perfectly cooked dinner (and leftovers, if I do it right) ready to go on the table. All from one pot!

Aside from being convenient, using a slow cooker is also cost effective. Dried grains and beans are nutritious and inexpensive. Soups can easily be scaled to last for several meals. Stew takes inexpensive cuts of meat and cooks them to tender perfection. And then there’s stock … any time we get a rotisserie chicken, I break out the slow cooker afterwards and toss the carcass in for stock. Talk about bang for your buck!

Some meats, like pot roasts, benefit from searing prior to going into the slow cooker. Other foods, like stew meat or chicken, can just go right in the cooker along with whatever veggies you’re using. The food safety police would probably frown on my saying so, but when running late I’ve been known to put frozen meat in the pot to cook without thawing it first. I’m not sure on the official safety of that, but we’re not dead yet so I’ll keep doing it. (It’s going to cook for 8 hours anyway, so really … I don’t see a problem – otherwise, I wouldn’t do it. I’ve had food poisoning before, so I take my food safety seriously.)

Last night, we had rabbit stew for dinner, courtesy of the slow cooker. I think stewing is a great way to cook rabbit; since it’s such a lean protein, it has a tendency to toughen up while cooking. If you don’t have rabbit, feel free to sub in chicken thighs instead, but make sure to remove the skin before cooking, so things don’t get all greasy.

Easy Slow Cooker Rabbit Stew for Two

Rabbit legs, front and back (or four chicken thighs, skin removed)
1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste
4 large carrots, cut into 1/2-inch thick rounds
3 stalks celery, 1/2-inch diced
1 small onion, 1/2-inch diced
5 medium mushrooms, quartered (I use the brown Cremini, but white ones are fine too)
1 cup water or chicken stock
2 tablespoons corn starch, dissolved in 1/4 cup cold water
1/2 cup frozen peas
Rice or egg noodles, cooked as directed on packaging

9/9/2014 8:15:34 PM

Laura, I love my crockpot. Like yours mine is about 15 years old. I used to have two but the older one finally quit working. My favorite recipe for the crockpot is either beef stew or chili. Of course you have to understand that I could live on soups, stews, and casseroles. And .... well .... barbequed ribs. And oh yeah, meatballs for meatball sandwiches. And .... well .... ok just about everything. ***** Have a great slow cooker day.

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