Is it a crock, or not? I’m finding more crock than not.

I remember way back when, nearly 30 years ago. My mother went through a few crock-pots and recipes, I did my own searching. Mostly I escaped the grasp because I wasn’t able to fuss with my food during the cooking period. You get what you get, no chance for tasting, changing direction and/or redirecting to a final end that tasted as good as you could do in the oven or stove-top.
As with any situation, time changes everything. I need help. No longer do I have hours in the late afternoon and evening to give what I want to eat and serve to my boys. I would really like to have something tasty and somewhat healthy at the end of the day wherein I would really like to only serve or cook rice, er mashed taters. I figured maybe the crock-pot would have another life here at Meathenge Labs.
Earlier today I picked up a large 5 quart rig, it was time. They feel as cheap as they ever were (no longer in the color of an avacado) But with the internet, I figured I could find some guidelines to use the damned thing. Nope! Between the included recipes and what I’ve initially found on the net is quite the contrary.
So far, it’s all about the canned, the packeted and then again, the can. Sure you can use the fresh vegetables and the meat, but if you truly know what you’re doing? The onion soup packet or the mushroom soup is an ingredient. If you’re really a Home Chef, you’ll add the fancy “Brown Gravy” packet.
It’s 2010 and was just only then 2009, so dreamed maybe the cooker would come with decent recipes. The first one I viewed about pork chops and rice included a can of mushrooms. A can of mushrooms?
My brother inlaw Darkleynoone, a skilled cook and crock-pot stud interjected that I needed to lower the moisture addition, it’s tough to do dried herbs in a crock-pot and to maybe cook the starches separately. I totally understood.
But what’s with the large glut of complete crap in regards to the crock-pot and ingredients?
xo, Biggles
UPDATE 6 hours in the pot:
I work maybe a 6 minute drive from home, decided to come home to see how things were going. As I opened up the front door, the smells were really good. Nothing compared to my traditional pot roast, but still quite good. I probably added too many veggies, but wanted enough to use them to eat and not just a disposable addition. I did add a cup of chicken broth, maybe next time I won’t. If you click on the image, you can get a little larger idea and can see there’s plenty of moisture in there. Dang, those meat additives release a lot of moisture! And considering how little evaporates during cooking, I may end up reducing them later in a sauce pan. Yeah, pull meat and let it rest for a bit. Strain veggies from broth, reduce. So far, so good.
ps – And two hours after that? It’s done.
Update a few hours after that – Dinner was served:
I’m blown away, completely. This was better than good and for a Wednesday evening meal. I totally kicked your ASS. This isn’t to say it didn’t take some effort, it wasn’t something I just threw together and walked away. I’d added too much moisture (1 cup of chicken broffs). At nearly 8.5 to 9 hours I set the cooker to warm for another hour while I drove for 1.5 hours to pick up Z from school. When I got back I separated the meat, and then the veggies from the broth. I reduced the broth until it tasted how I wanted, then added a slurry of cold water and corn starch to give it some consistency.
If you learn the cooker’s ways, positive and negative, and can stay away from canned and packets, this cooker is Meathenge Approved. It may take a few tries, fortunately it only took me 1 try to make a National Class meal. I’m huge and need to go take a nap.
xo, Biggles

23 thoughts on “Is it a crock, or not? I’m finding more crock than not.

  1. I’ve made a few good, from-scratch crockpot recipes, but the unfortunate reality is, most people who use these things are little Sandra lee wannabees. Perhaps it’s time both you, I and others who do this “cooking thing” for a living should look into changing the landscape

  2. Reverend: Check out “Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Book” by Beth Hensberger. It goes beyond soups and prepared sauces. Keep us posted on your progress with the appliance; I’m tempted to try to find a little one for myself — I remember giving away a huge one years ago………………Happy New Year!

  3. My dad likes to use his crockpot to slow cook turkey wings. No cans involved. But yeah, most crockpot recipes seem like crap. Now I’m going to have to find the book Kudzu mentioned.

  4. I’m not much of a soup fan (not at all, actually). I just can’t wrap my brain around “drinking” my lunch! I’ve got to cut something with a knife. My moto is: If it didn’t have a soul, I don’t eat it.
    This being said; My Greek step-mother made this stew that was INCREDIBLE! I believe it’s called Irish Stew (uses Guiness, of course)

  5. I’ve only just purchased a crock pot to keep soup warm at a potluck buffet, but I have to think that after browning meat and sauteing your veggies, everything can be combined and set to simmer for most soups and stews.

  6. For an online resource that will never have a “can” of anything in the ingredients, check out Martha Stewart (yes, I said Martha Stewart). Do a search for “slow-cooker”.you’ll get a nice list. The site has a pretty good number of recipes for the crockpot that make from scratch. I’ve made a few of the recipes with success.

  7. Hay,
    Thank you all, am searching for names of betterer books and cheers!
    An update: Last night before bed I sliced up carrots, celery, onion, garlic, fresh mushrooms and put it in the cooker’s ceramic bowl. Seasoned the meat with some stuff and laid it over the veggies. Installed the ceramic pot with lid to the fridge. Cut to this morning at 5:30am, pulled from fridge and installed to cooker. It’s going at this very moment. We’ll see!

  8. #1. I remember a time when you loved cream o’mushroom soup and used it often, Biggles. My, how you’ve grown.
    #2. I would need to taste something other than what I have ever tasted to get me interested enough to do anything other than beans in a crock pot.
    #3. I’ll try anything once. Often twice.

  9. Ive always wanted to invest in a Crock Pot having always heard such good things about them…but hmmmm, your post here definitely isnt pushing me in that direction. The whole canned idea doesnt appeal to me at all.
    It does sound like youre figuring it out however…maybe its worth a shot?
    Well…is it?

  10. Holy crap. The boys and I just finished it up with some mashed tates.
    Push away your history with the beast, if you use good ingredients it excels.
    Wow. I’m sold.
    Sure it does take more effort than the ’58 suburbia clan retorts, but this shit is gooooooood.
    xo, Biggles

  11. Glad to hear you say that about the recipes you find in cookbooks for crockpot cooking. Too many processed foods, too much canned soup, etc. I’m just starting to understand what I can do with the crockpot, not trying to replicate the dishes I make on the stovetop, but creating new versions of those dishes for the slow cooker. It definitely is trial and error.

  12. My crockpot (an old 1970s one scored on Ebay) gets used about every other week to cook beans.
    Frijoles de Olla with either black or Pinto beans, no presoaking required. I start em at 9 PM and the beans are ready for breakfast the next morning.
    PS – Canned Cream of Mushroom soup is just a rotten thing to add to other foods.

  13. My favorite thing to cook in a crockpot is this:
    Season a 3-4 lb boneless pork butt liberally with your favorite fajita seasoning blend, place in the bottom of the crockpot. Scatter a large sliced sweet onion, and several cloves of peeled garlic around it. Next, pour around it a couple of bottles of Corona beer (or any beer, really). Add the juice of 2 or 3 fresh-squeezed limes, and maybe a large handful of chopped cilantro. Cook on low for 8 hours or so. Remove the roast carefully from the juices (it practically falls apart!). Shred it with two forks. Add some of the cooking juices back to the shredded meat. Serve on lightly fried corn tortillas with shredded lettuce or cabbage, maybe some sour cream and green salsa, some cilantro, and whatever else you think would be good. I freeze the leftover juices to use as a base for soup. Yum.

  14. Hi Everyone and thank you Ricki!
    Well, I’ve sure learned a lot of the last 24 hours. First of which, the crock pot is it’s own cooking medium. As Lydia stated, attempting to recreate your favorites for this pot isn’t the way to attack. You need to start new and fresh and build your own recipe from scratch. Kevin D. Weeks emailed me this, “Treat it just like a Dutch oven in the oven but at 180 – 225 degrees.” Remove everything in your psyche about the crock-pot and start new. To be honest, it’s really quite interesting and fun. How many times do us people that can cook, get to start back at ground level and start over?
    Was talking with my brother inlaw this morning and he asked if the chuck roast was dry? I thought for a moment and the answer is no. But it got me to thinking that he’d experienced some dry pot roast in the past? I believe that cup of broth I added was a good thing. As near as I can tell, crock-pot recipes add very little moisture, you just don’t need it. There’s very little moisture loss even cooking for 8 to 10 hours. However, with the added moisture, the meat did not dry out. It was more than tender, but it did have some tooth to it. It didn’t fall about at the touch of a fork, you actually did need to tug at it a bit to get it to pieces. Once in your mouth, there was good texture, but melted away as you chewed.
    Notes not stated previously: I actually did rub the roast with salt, pepper, pulverized thyme and a little celery seed. This time I did not brown the meat first, next time I will.

  15. Wait a minute Rev – you didn’t brown the meat first? How’d you get that nice crusty looking outer finish on the meat then? What trickery have you left out of your post?

  16. Hey Brooklyn,
    Heh, nope didn’t brown. I believe it might be because I didn’t turn the meat or push it under the broth. There was an exposed portion of the top during the entire time. Low and slow heat did it! Meat was not mushy, I was pretty impressed.
    The Rev

  17. Dang, that’s what I should have done. Packed up a container and left it in the fridge for you. Next time I will be more thoughtful.
    The Rev

  18. Trust in the crock pot. Seriously, if you check out some of the newer cookbooks and some online blogs, you’ll find many a recipe made from scratch that doesn’t come near a can o soup. We made ham hocks and beans for dinner last night and will probably cook a pheasant this weekend. And we crock pot a big ole slice of corned beef point at least once a month. I consider the crock pot this working woman’s best friend. I’d suggest browning any meats/chicken before putting in the crock pot in the future.

  19. I found a recipe for asian style pork belly. Cut up slab into 3 chunks, put a couple of cups of water, 1/2 cup soy sauce, couple of splashes of fish sauce, some ginger , garlic, star anise, sliced up onion.Put on high for 3 hours. Let cool slice. Reduce cooking liquid for a sauce. Easy.

  20. Crock pot recipes do call for a lot of canned ingredients. And I’m trying to get away from that. But I’m a new cook….one step at a time. I too think the crock pot can be used with all fresh ingredients and turn out delicious. I’m a true believer! Good to see here you didn’t give up on it completely!! 🙂