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Slowing Down (March 11, 2002)


Ah, retro. Old but new, familiar yet trendy, it's the hot "new" appliance! Yes, the Slow Cooker is back, and it's perfect for today's non-stop lifestyle.

We all remember the early 70s electric "stew and beans" appliance that sat like a fat old Buick on the kitchen counter, yet filled the house with wondrous smells of a rich, meaty stew or delicious stick-to-the-ribs soup. Hey, it was dependable and easy to use, and it produced wonderful meals. Then we moved on down the culinary pike and out went the cooker with only a faint twinge of regret.

Well, what goes around, etc., as they say, and indeed the improved slow cooker is back, this time in two versions. One is a multi-cooker with an adjustable thermostat so it can be used for a variety of tasks such as slow cooking, deep-frying and steaming, and the other for slow cooking only. Both come in a variety of shapes and sizes to suit your need and numbers. Whichever you go for, the ease and convenience is the same that put one in your mother's kitchen; trouble-free, long, slow cooking that not only produces fabulously flavoured, perfectly cooked dishes, but gives much needed time and hours back to the chef!

And to get you started again, there are two terrific new cookbooks out: The 150 Best Slow Cooker Recipes, by journalist Judith Finlayson, and Canada's Best Slow Cooker Recipes, by home economist Donna-Marie Pye.

Both these busy career women juggle professional assignments with an active family and social life, and both are passionate about good food and cooking. The recipes are easy, yet exciting and contemporary; you'll find sections on appetizers, soups, beans, grains and lentils, meats, poultry and seafood, vegetables and desserts.

The selection of recipes was so stunning we hardly knew where to start; the easiest way of course is to check out your own personal favourites! So here they are, delicious teasers to get you to try slow cooking again. You'll want both cookbooks today!

On today's menu:

Download these recipes in printable form as an Acrobat PDF (127 KB)

Old South Pulled Pork on a Bun

  Oh, Judith, are you just a bit southern yourself? This recipe is about as genuine as you can get without making the trip to Dixie in search of a true barbecue stand, the ones found in hamlets named Bug Tussle, Starke or Two Egg, and called something like Bubba's or Big John's Alabama Barbecue. I know, I grew up eating true barbecue, and knew dreams came true when we found Finlayson's recipe in her 150 Best Slow Cooker Recipes. Y'all are gonna love it!

Serves 6

1 Tbs. vegetable oil (15 mL)
2 onions, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic
1 Tbs. chili powder (15 mL)
1 tsp. cracked black peppercorns (5 mL)
1 cup tomato-based chili sauce (250 mL)
¼ cup packed brown sugar (50 mL)
¼ cup cider vinegar (50 mL)
1 Tbs. Worcester sauce (15 mL)
1 tsp. liquid smoke (5 mL)
1 boneless pork shoulder, trimmed of excess fat, about 3 lbs. (1.5 kg)
Kaiser or onion buns, halved and warmed

  1. In a skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook until soft. Add garlic, chili powder and pepper and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Add chili sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and liquid smoke. Stir to combine and bring to a boil.
  2. Accompanying wine?
    Tony Recommends...

    a medium-bodied, off-dry white wine – German Riesling Kabinett or Spatlese Trocken or California Viognier.
  3. Place pork in slow cooker stoneware and pour sauce over. Cover and cook on Low for 10 to 12 hours or on High for 6 hours, until pork is falling apart.
  4. Transfer pork to a cutting board and pull the meat part in shreds, using two forks. Return to sauce and keep warm. When ready to serve, spoon-shredded pork and sauce over warm buns.

Make Ahead: This dish can be partially prepared the night before it is cooked. Complete Step 1. Cover and refrigerate sauce overnight. The next morning, continue cooking as directed.

St. Patty's Corned Beef and Veggies
with Marmalade-Mustard Glaze

  Oh, dear, March 17 is coming up fast, and you just haven't been roused enough to do the same old corn beef and cabbage. Not to worry, this updated, easy slow-cooked recipe is a wonderful variation with the marmalade-mustard glaze. Even the die-hard cabbage haters in your family are going to love these flavours. From Canada's Best Slow Cooker Recipes.

Serves 8 to 10

4 or 6 potatoes, peeled and quartered
4 to 6 carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch (5 cm) chunks
2 onions, cut into quarters
1 4-lb (2 kg) corned beef brisket
1 bottle (12 oz, 342 mL) strong beer
2-4 whole cloves
1 tsp. whole peppercorns (5 mL)
1 Tbs. brown sugar (15 mL)
1 small cabbage, cut into wedges

Marmalade Glaze

½ cup orange marmalade (125 mL)
2 Tbs. Dijon mustard (25 mL)
2 Tbs. brown sugar (25 mL)

  1. In slow cooker, combine potatoes, carrots, and onions. Add corned beef, beer, cloves, peppercorns and brown sugar. Pour in enough water to cover meat and vegetables.
  2. Cover and cook on Low for 10 to 12 hours or on High for 6 to 8 hours. Remove meat from cooking liquid and place on baking sheet. Transfer vegetables to a platter and keep warm.
  3. Pour cooking liquid into a large pot over medium-high heat. Taste and, if too salty, discard some of the liquid and replace it with fresh water. Repeat until saltiness is to your taste. Secure cabbage wedges with the toothpicks and add to cooking liquid. Bring liquid to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until cabbage is tender.
  4. Accompanying wine?
    Tony Recommends...

    a medium-bodied red with food extract – Valpolicella (Ripasso method), Amarone or Chilean Carmenere.
  5. Marmalade Glaze: In a bowl, combine marmalade, mustard and brown sugar. Spoon over corned beef and place under a preheated broiler, 6 inches (15cm) from heat source. Cook for about 2 to 3 minutes.
  6. Thinly slice beef against the grain and place on platter with vegetables. Add cabbage wedges to platter and serve with additional mustard.

Tip: Because the cabbage is cooked separately after meat is finished, it doesn't impart its strong flavour to the other vegetables.

Leeks à la Grecque

Ron adores leeks, and feels they are the least understood vegetable. He's always looking for new recipes, and was so tickled to find Judith Finlayson's version from The 150 Best Slow Cooker Recipes. You can serve these leeks as a vegetable side dish or make ahead and serve chilled as part of an antipasto buffet. If you've never tried leeks, this will get you started on a long, happy relationship!  

Serves 4 to 6

2 large leeks, white and light green part only, split lengthwise, cleaned and cut in half on the horizontal
¼ cup olive oil (50 mL)
2 Tbs. coriander seeds (25 mL)
1 tsp. black peppercorns (5 mL)
½ tsp. coarse sea salt (2 mL)
¾ cup dry white wine (175 mL)
2 bay leaves

  1. Place leeks in slow cooker.
  2. In a saucepan, combine olive oil, coriander seeds, pepper, salt, white wine and bay leaves and bring to a boil. Pour mixture over leeks, cover and cook on Low for 6 to 8 hours or on High for 3 to 4 hours, until leeks are soft.
  3. Using a slotted spoon, transfer leeks to a serving dish. Pour cooking liquid into a saucepan, and over high heat, bring to a boil. Boil rapidly for 5 minutes until sauce has reduced by half. Strain over leeks. Serve immediately or cover and chill thoroughly.
Accompanying wine?
Tony Recommends...

a medium-bodied dry white – Sauvignon Blanc: Pouilly-Fume (Loire Valley), New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.

Tip: to clean leeks, fill sink full of lukewarm water. Split leeks in half lengthwise and submerge in water, swishing them around to remove all traces of dirt. Transfer to a colander and rinse under cold water.


Moors and Christians

Growing up in Tampa, we knew this Cuban classic by its Spanish name, Moros y Cristianos, black beans and white rice. It's comfort food to me, and this version from 150 Best Slow Cooker Recipes is truly authentic. Finlayson suggests a perfect accompaniment, Fried Plantains, and to that I add and a Spanish Flan for dessert! Perfecto, amigos.  

1 roasted red pepper, finely chopped
1 Tbs. vegetable oil (15 mL)
2 medium onions, finely chopped
4 large cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. dried oregano leaves (10 mL)
2 tsp. cumin seeds (10 mL)
1 medium tomato, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 can (19 oz/540 mL) black beans, rinsed and drained
or 1 cup (250 mL) dried black beans, cooked and drained
½ cup condensed chicken broth (undiluted) (125 mL)
2 cups long grain rice (500 mL)
1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
2 Tbs. lemon or lime juice (25 mL)
¼ cup finely chopped cilantro (50 mL)
4 green onions, white part only, finely chopped

  1. In a skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook until soft. Add garlic, oregano and cumin seeds and cook for 1 minute. Stirring, add roasted red pepper, tomato, beans and chicken broth and bring to a boil. Transfer to slow cooker stoneware.
  2. Cover and cook on Low for 8 to 10 hours or on High for 4 to 5 hours.
  3. Accompanying wine?
    Tony Recommends...

    a medium-bodied, dried red – Beaujolais Cru (Fleurie, Brouilly, etc.) or (white) Alsace Tokay-Pinot Gris
  4. When bean mixture is cooked, make rice. In a heavy pot with a tight fitting lid, combine rice with 4 cups (1 L) water. Cover, bring to a rapid boil, then turn off the heat, leaving the pot on the warm element. Do not lift the lid or move the pot until rice is ready, which will take about 20 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, add green pepper to contents of slow cooker and stir well. Cover and cook on High for 20 to 30 minutes, until pepper is tender.
  6. Stir cooked rice into slow cooker. Add lemon or lime juice, cilantro and green onions and stir to combine thoroughly. Serve hot as a main course or cold as a salad.

Baked Lemon Sponge

Ron and I both voted this the most sinful dessert this side of chocolate. It's a lovely, old-fashioned steamed dessert that with the long, slow cooking separates into a cake-like topping with a creamy lemon custard sauce underneath. Your grandmother would have spent the afternoon doing this sponge for special guests; you and your new cooker, with Donna-Marie Pye's Canada's Best Slow Cooker Recipes, can do it in minutes.  

Serves 4

You'll need a 6-cup (1.5 L) bowl or soufflé dish, greased.

1 cup granulated sugar (250 mL)
¼ cup all-purpose flour (50 mL)
¼ tsp. salt (1 mL)
¼ cup fresh lemon juice (50 mL)
1 Tbs. grated lemon zest (15 mL)
3 eggs, separated
1 Tbs. melted butter (15 mL)
1 cup milk (250 mL)
1 Tbs. icing sugar (15 mL)

  1. In a bowl, combine sugar, flour and salt. Stir in lemon juice, lemon zest, egg yolks, butter and milk.
  2. Accompanying wine?
    Tony Recommends...

    a sweet white with good acidity – Ontario Icewine, German Eiswein.
  3. In another bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form; fold gently into lemon mixture. Pour into prepared bowl and over tightly with aluminum foil. (Secure with an elastic band.) Place in slow cooker and pour in enough water to come 1 inch (2.5cm) up sides of bowl.
  4. Cover and cook on High for 2-3 hours or until topping is set and light and fluffy. Sift icing sugar over sponge before serving.

We wish to thanks Bob Dees of Robert Rose Publishing for permission to publish these recipes and pictures from:

The 150 Best Slow Cooker Recipes by Judith Finlayson
Canada's Best Slow Cooker Recipes by Donna-Marie Pie

Photographs in both books by: Mark T. Shapiro


Happily tested by Helen Hatton and Ron Morris.

Download these recipes in printable form as an Acrobat PDF (127 KB)




More Gourmet Recipes