Best meals from crock pot cookery


A good crock pot meal can make your day much easier. Image: Flickr / noricum / CC-BY

Many people are in search of ways to cut costs on weekday meals, and a crock pot is a great solution. The best meals from a crock pot take just minutes to throw together and use inexpensive ingredients, and crockpots themselves cost less than a meal out. No matter what you like to eat, a crock pot can mean a complete meal with less than 20 minutes work.

The basics of best meals from a crock pot

A crock pot is basically a counter top braising oven. Braising is a cooking method that uses low heat and moisture. Choosing recipes that turn out best when cooked for a long time over low heat are ideal. Root vegetables, tough meats, legumes, hard grains and even fruits can have their best characteristics brought out by this cooking method. It is a good idea to avoid things like cheddar cheese, plain milk, or vegetables that you want to keep crisp. If you’d put it in the oven, it’s a great candidate for the best meals from a crock pot.

The best vegetable meals from crock pot cooks

If you’re vegetarian, need to eat gluten-free or just trying to diet, a crock pot can be your best friend. A layered crock pot gratin is a great place to start. Start with thinly sliced Yukon Gold or russet potatoes. Layer the potatoes with thinly sliced parsnips or chopped broccoli. Top each layer with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese, oregano, basil or even chopped spinach. Add a few small pats of butter or a few tablespoons of olive oil. Once you have several layers, pour in two cups chicken broth or vegetable broth, or 1 cup milk and one cup broth. Cook on low eight to 10 hours, or on high for at least four hours. Beans also handle crock pot cooking beautifully — try a four bean chili that combines 1/2 cup each of dry white, black, pinto and kidney beans with two cans chopped tomatoes, one medium onion, several cloves garlic, your favorite seasonings and two cups water. Let it cook overnight and all day, at least 15 hours, and the beans will be cooked through — no boiling, no stressing.

The best meat meals from crock pot cooks

Tough cuts of meat are perfectly suited to crock pot cooking. Pork butt (which is actually shoulder), pot roast, or stew beef, cooked long and low with a few vegetables and lots of broth leads to tender meat that is ready for dinner when you get home from work.

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