This week, I confess that I’m thinking more about GU vs. home-made chia-seed energy gel than I am about regular food and nutrition. On Sunday, I’m running my first half marathon with the intrepid Team Flail (my friends Adam, Drew, John and Matt) and the preparation has monopolized any mental capacity left over after kid/work/sleep.
Actually, that may be just the right frame of mind for a post about slowcooker recipes. Unlike some of my other kitchen tools, the slowcooker doesn’t get much thought from me. It’s a given, a workhorse, a plug-in-and-forget-about-it sort of thing. We’re like coworkers who’ve shared the same 8-hour shift for the last umpteen years: one hands the other a cup of coffee without any overwrought morning salutations to accompany it. And that’s my kind of tool this week.
Let’s get on to that proverbial cup of coffee, shall we? One of my favorite slowcooker recipes is beer brisket, adapted from this Cooking Light recipe.
The brisket gets browned in a pan over high heat, then plopped into the slowcooker on top of beer, fruit, spices and several other ingredients.
Set the slowcooker on low and eight hours later, you’ve got some tender beef with a nice jus. Actually, you’ve got a lot of tender beef, so I usually serve this when we’re having a lot of family over or I plan to freeze several portions for later.
A new recipe I tried for this week was a white-bean, carrot and parsnip cassoulet (I’m assuming that means stew; I’m too lazy to look it up right now) from Cooking Light.
I made a few changes to the recipe: included a couple links of spicy Italian sausage instead of the meatless crumbles (I’m not a fan of pretend meat products); used fresh thyme; left out the bread crumb hootenanny. It was very easy and super tasty, only requiring a little sauté of the onion and root veggies before tossing everything in the slowcooker for eight hours on low.
Your mileage may vary, but I found this thickened up too much. I added about ¾ cup of water while it was cooking, to keep it at a thinner consistency.
Alright, I have to go do my last taper-week run now, so let’s get this wrapped up. Set your cookers to low and slow with this week’s recipe list:
- Black bean soup in a slowcooker with toasted cumin crema, from Smitten Kitchen (here) – Haven’t made this yet, but it sounds like a soup (and leftovers) I could eat for days
- Slowcooker coconut curry chicken, from Tasty Kitchen (here).
- Slowcooker beer brisket (recipe follows below)
- Slowcooker pork tacos with cabbage and avocado, from Serious Eats (here)
- Squash, red lentil and chickpea stew, from Eating Well (here) – I like this served over whole-wheat couscous
- Thyme-scented white bean, carrot, parsnip cassoulet, from Cooking Light (here)
- Whole chicken in a slowcooker, from weelicious (here) – This really is as simple as she says. I stuff an onion (halved or quartered) in with the lemon and thyme.
On the off chance that you’re interested in how Team Flail’s Mid-30s-And-Slow Subteam (me) does on Sunday, you’re in luck – I’ll blog about it here shortly afterward.
Slowcooker beer brisket (text file here)
This is adapted from a Cooking Light recipe (here); the original cooks the brisket in an oven and does fancier stuff with the sauce.
I like to use a spicy or smoked beer for this recipe. Winter seasonals tend to work well; recently I used a Gorges smoked porter. If you want a beer-free version, you can use orange juice, broth/stock, or other liquid in place of the beer.
You don’t need to make yourself crazy cutting the vegetables into pretty bite-size shapes – they’ll all get tossed out at the end. Just hack them into manageable sizes and toss them into the slowcooker.
(Serving number will vary based on brisket size. Each serving is a card-deck-sized amount of beef with a few spoonfuls of sauce.)
3-4 pound brisket
2 tsp olive oil
Salt and pepper, enough to coat the raw brisket thinly
12-oz bottle of beer
12 oz water (just refill the beer bottle)
1 medium onion, red or white, sliced vertically
¼ cup ginger root, chopped
¼ cup ketchup
10 thyme sprigs
5-7 parsley sprigs
2 bay leaves
6 lemon-rind strips
6 orange-rind strips
1 apple, cored and sliced into wedges
1 cinnamon stick
Rub the salt and pepper on all sides of the brisket. Put the olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the brisket and cook, roughly 5 minutes per side, until lightly browned.
Add all remaining ingredients to the slowcooker. Put the browned brisket on top, cover, and set on low for eight hours.
When the brisket is done cooking, remove it to a cutting board and slice thinly, cutting against the grain.
Strain the remaining liquid to remove all the solid parts (bay leaf, cinnamon stick, fruit, vegetables and herbs). Either spoon the sauce onto the brisket before serving, or set it out with the meal for self-service.