How to Cook: Slow Cooking
By Nutritional Weight & Wellness Staff
April 10, 2018
Imagine that you are driving home from work with a big smile on your face, calm, relaxed and anticipating the delicious dinner that awaits you. The first thing you notice when you walk through the door is the savory aroma of a dinner that has simmered for hours and is so tender it will fall off your fork. Can’t you just taste it now?
That is the magic of slow cookers! To take you beyond the tried-and-true roasts and stews, our nutritionists created three new recipes you are sure to love. This installment of our “How to Cook” series features Collard Greens, Shredded Pork and Stuffed Peppers.
Has a quick Google search left you with more questions than answers? On the other hand, are you overwhelmed with the number of recipes and techniques on the internet? Maybe you get analysis paralysis when it comes to figuring out what to cook for dinner. We’re cutting through the clutter and keeping things simple to help you know how to get the most flavor and nutrients out of your meals. Previously we discussed roasting and how to sauté; today we are taking on one of our favorite kitchen appliances, the slow cooker.
Cooking in a slow cooker is a great way to get a flavorful meal on your table with a minimal amount of effort. Since the food is cooked at a low temperature, typically about 209°F, many of the heat-sensitive nutrients like vitamin C are kept safe. As an added bonus, any vitamins, minerals, or antioxidants that leach out of your meat and veggies will still be found in the cooking liquid, which you will most likely be eating.
Have you ever wondered what the difference is between the low and high setting on your cooker? The difference isn’t in the temperature, it’s simply how fast the cooker heats up. Cooking on high will bring your food up to 209°F (just below the simmering point) in about 3-4 hours, compared to cooking on low which takes about 7 hours.
Most people think of using their slow cooker only in the winter for stews and chili, but at Nutritional Weight & Wellness we recommend using it year round. It’s a great way to make shredded pork in the summer when it’s too hot to turn the oven on. About the only things that don’t cook well in a slow cooker are fish and other seafood.
Get ready to dust off your slow cooker and try out some new recipes.
Most Midwesterners are not familiar with cooked greens (except for spinach maybe). But down south, collards and turnip greens are true comfort foods. The next time you’re looking for a new side dish try this recipe and serve it with shredded pork or chicken.
4 strips of bacon chopped
1 onion, diced
8 cups collard or turnip greens, stems removed, and sliced into thin strips
1 qt chicken broth or water
1 tsp salt
½ tsp ground black pepper
1 smoked ham hock, or a leftover ham bone from the holidays. (Optional, but highly recommended)
- In a large pot, begin to brown the bacon. As the fat renders out, add the diced onion and sauté until it is translucent. If your slow cooker has a sauté function, do this step in the slow cooker.
- Combine the bacon and onion with the remaining ingredients in your slow cooker. Turn on the low setting and let cook for 6-10 hours.
- Make sure to stir it every couple hour to help wilt and cook the greens.
- Remove the ham hock and discard the skin, shred the meat and return it to the greens.
- Serve with red wine vinegar, pepper vinegar, or tabasco sauce.
Have you ever wondered why your slow cooked roast pork or beef is sometimes splendid and tender, and other times it’s dried out? It has to do with which cut of meat you use and how much liquid you add. A pork shoulder or butt works great in a slow cooker. The high amount of connective tissue in these cuts need a long time to breakdown. Since they are higher in fat they also require less cooking liquid than leaner cuts of meat like a chicken breast, which should be covered by water or broth.
1, 3-4 pound pork shoulder or butt
1 large onion sliced
2 cups water, chicken broth, or beer
½ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup mustard (whatever you have in your fridge)
2 Tbsp molasses or maple syrup
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce or Bragg Liquid Aminos
- Place the sliced onion on the bottom of the slow cooker.
- Put the pork roast on top of the onions
- Combine the remaining ingredients in a bowl and pour over the roast.
- Cook on low 8+ hours. Feel free to flip the roast over halfway through cooking.
- Remove the roast or leave it in the slow cooker and shred it using two large forks. Mix the meat with the cooking liquid.
- Serve on a bun or try it over cauliflower rice.
What’s not to like about stuffed peppers? They are perfectly portioned, individual servings of tastiness. By using your slow cooker there is no need to cook the meat or the peppers ahead of time. Prep these on a Sunday night and store in your fridge. Monday morning pop them in the slow cooker, and when you come home, dinner almost serves itself.
6 large bell peppers, any color
1 ½ pounds ground turkey or lean ground beef
½ onion finely diced
2-4 cloves finely chopped garlic, depending upon your taste preference
1½ cups cooked brown rice
1 tsp salt
½ tsp ground black pepper
2 Tbsp fresh chopped parsley or basil
1, 15oz can tomato sauce
- Slice the tops off the peppers and remove the seeds from the inside.
- Rub a little olive oil on the outside of the peppers. This helps keep them from sticking to your slow cooker.
- Combine the remaining ingredients except the tomato sauce in a large bowl.
- Scoop the mixture into the peppers and set them inside your slow cooker.
- Pour the tomato sauce on top. Cook on low 6-8 hours.
- Serve with a side salad or steamed vegetables for a complete meal.
Anyone can cook in a slow cooker, and the results are almost always delicious. For more quick and delicious crockpot meals check out these recipes on the Nutritional Weight & Wellness website:
Coming up next in our "How to Cook" series, Poaching.