So it’s 7:45 pm and you’re just leaving the Food Action Committee meeting. The volunteered snacks were great but your hunger is still out of control. The prospect of preparing supper overwhelms you. But when you open your door you are hit by a wave of wonderful aroma! You forgot that you put your slow cooker on!
That is one of the many joys of slow cooking – you prepare the meal ahead of time and it happily cooks away, ready for you when you get home. Now that supper’s ready you won’t need to succumb to that craving for ju jubes.
This 70’s invention is one of the most popular and convenient of kitchen appliances. You can cook anything from Ball Park Bean Dip to Cheesy Jalapeno Chicken Loaf to Sweet Potato Pecan Pie! Less expensive meats and poultry such as chicken thighs end up tasting great and very tender. And it’s very versatile, whether you enjoy meat or are vegetarian. Meals can be less expensive, you can cook enough for another day, and you control what goes in it.
Usually you would put the ingredients in the slow cooker in the morning. Some recipes divide the preparation so you can partially prepare the meal the day before. With a little shift in the way you prepare food you will soon learn the benefits and beauty of slow cooking.
One of my favourite well-thumbed slow cooker cookbooks is Delicious and Dependable Slow Cooker Recipes by Canada’s Judith Finlayson. While the procedure is fairly straight forward, she provides a useful list of tips to ensure food safety, e.g. “Do not partially cook meat or poultry and refrigerate for subsequent cooking.”
Here’s a recipe from Judith’s book that I love and hope you will too.
Saucy Pork Chops with Cranberries
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
4 to 6 loin pork chops, 1” thick (Support our pork producers!)
2 leeks, white part only, cleaned and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
½ tsp. cracked black peppercorns
½ cup port wine, Madeira or orange juice
¼ cup orange marmalade
½ cup dried cranberries
1. In a nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Brown pork chops on both sides, in batches, and transfer to slow cooker. Drain any fat.
2. Reduce heat to medium. Add leeks to skillet and cook, stirring, until softened. Add garlic, salt and peppercorns and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Stir in port, marmalade and cranberries and bring to a boil.
3. Pour mixture over pork. Cover and cook on Low for 5 hours or on High for 2 1/2 hours, until pork is tender and just a hint of pink remains. Serve immediately.
This would make a good Saturday or Sunday meal, pretty quick! If you’re not already a convert, look at some recipes and see if it might be just the solution for your chronically-supper-time-growling stomach.
And remember to toast the farmers who brought you this meal, which we are so fortunate to receive.
“To our farmers!”
Mary Ellen Sullivan