New Castle News

January 25, 2014

Culinary Conversation: Share your best slow cooker recipes

Lugene Hudson
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — Somewhere upstairs in a spare room among the books and boxes is a slow cooker.

Obviously, I haven’t used it in a long time.

Through the years, I have owned several of these time-saving devices. In the 1970s and 1980s, their popularity soared. In those days, they were primarily known as Crockpots. But slow cookery never completely faded out of sight. However, these days recipes have been revived and reworked to accommodate busy people.

There is still a little prep work involved, such as browning the meat before adding it to the cooker and cutting up vegetables, but all in all, slow cooking is economical and tasty, which are two factors most cooks look for.

Do you use your slow cooker? Culinary Conversation welcomes those recipes and any of your favorites that you would like to share.

Today, we feature a variety of slow cooker recipes including easy-to-make stew. For slow cooker chicken enchiladas, layers of corn tortillas, spicy tomato sauce and chicken filling provide a unique twist on an oven-baked favorite.

There’s also a vegetarian chili, sour cream pork chops, turkey stroganoff and even lasagna. If you make some of these the traditional way, why not try the alternative approach?

Now it’s time to rummage throw those boxes and get that handy dandy electric wonder of mine out of hiding.

Swiss steak stew

In medium bowl, combine flour and salt and mix well. Add beef and coat well.

Coat a nonstick skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Add  beef and cook until browned.

In a slow cooker, layer potatoes, beef and onion. Stir tomatoes with juice and any remaining flour mixture together. Pour over top. Cover and cook on low setting for seven to eight hours or until beef is tender. Add corn; cover and cook an additional 25 minutes.

Slow cooker chicken enchiladas

Spray inside of 4-quart slow cooker with cooking spray.

Stir together drained tomatoes, half of tomato sauce and soup in small bowl; set aside. Combine chicken, onion and remaining tomato sauce in another bowl.

Place 1⁄3 of tortilla strips in bottom of slow cooker; top with 1⁄3 each of sauce mixture, chicken filling and shredded cheese. Repeat layers, ending with a layer of cheese.

Cover and cook on high setting for two hours or low for four hours.

•Tip: Frozen chopped onion may be substituted for fresh, and any leftover chicken may be used instead of rotisserie chicken.

Sour cream

pork chops

Season pork chops with salt, pepper and garlic powder and then dredge in 1⁄2 cup flour. In a skillet over medium heat, lightly brown chops in a small amount of oil.

Place chops in slow cooker and top with onion slices. Dissolve bouillon cubes in boiling water and pour over chops. Cover and cook on low setting for seven to eight hours.

Preheat oven to 200.

After the chops have cooked, transfer them to the oven to keep warm. Be careful; the chops are so tender they will fall apart. In a small bowl, blend 2 tablespoons flour with the sour cream; mix into meat juices. Turn slow cooker to high setting for 15 to 30 minutes or until sauce is slightly thickened. Serve sauce over pork chops.

Vegetarian chili

In a slow cooker, combine black bean soup, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, baked beans, tomatoes, corn, onion, bell pepper and celery. Season with garlic, chili powder, parsley, oregano and basil. Cook for at least two hours on high setting.

Slow cooker lasagna

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the ground beef, onion and garlic until brown. Add tomato sauce, tomato paste, salt and oregano, and stir until well blended. Cook until heated through.

In a large bowl, mix together cottage cheese, grated Parmesan cheese and shredded mozzarella cheese.

Spoon a layer of the meat mixture onto the bottom of the slow cooker. Add a double layer of the uncooked lasagna noodles. Break to fit noodles into slow cooker. Top noodles with a portion of the cheese mixture. Repeat the layering of sauce, noodles and cheese until all the ingredients are used.

Cover and cook on low setting for four to six hours.

Slow cooker turkey stroganoff

Combine mushrooms, carrots and onion in a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker. Add turkey, meat-side down. Cover and cook on high setting for 4 hours or on low setting for 8 hours.

Transfer turkey to a cutting board.

Whisk sour cream, flour and sherry in a bowl. Stir into the slow cooker along with peas, salt and pepper. Cover and cook on high setting until thickened, about 15 minutes.

Remove turkey from the bone and cut into bite-size pieces; cover to keep warm. When the sauce is done, gently stir in the turkey. Serve over noodles, sprinkled with parsley.

(Note: recipes have not been tested.)