The crock pot is one of the biggest time saving tools in the kitchen! We’re all busy, and whenever you can incorporate what I call “passive cooking” (crock pot, pressure cooker, roasting– all activities that don’t require you to be stirring or tending), you are saving yourself time. Plus, you can cook in bulk and employ the “cook once; eat thrice” rule. Always cook more than you need so you can easily incorporate the leftovers into at least two more meals.
I use my crock pot pretty much weekly for making meat dishes, stews, or broth. It’s basically braised meat that cooks long and slowly, which preserves the nutrients, gives it an excellent flavor, and makes the meat super fall-off-the-bone tender.
Here is my basic easy crockpot meal formula. Today I used chicken legs.
1. Coat bottom of the crock with a little olive oil, then cover with chopped onion. I chop mine pretty thickly.
2. I’ll layer garlic over that, then typically add some root veggies like sweet potatoes, parsnips or celery root (adjust root vegetables as needed depending on what diet plan you follow).
3. Then I’ll add the meat: either chicken legs, a lamb shank, rack of lamb, a pot roast, or pork butt.
4. Next add broth and/or wine. Today’s has some chicken stock and leftover red wine.
5. Then I cover it with spices. Today I used oregano and thyme from my herb garden and added a couple bay leaves. It depends on the meat. For pork butt I’ll typically make a spice rub with chile powder and cumin, for example, or for pot roast I’ll use herbes de provence (thyme, rosemary, oregano, lavender– all of which I have in my garden! 🙂 Click here for my AWESOME crockpot carnitas using pork shoulder or butt.
Get creative and use whatever herb and spice combinations appeal to you: oregano-rosemary-thyme; basil; cumin, coriander, chile powder, cayenne; curry/turmeric and indian spices; fennel-dill; whatever you can come up with! I always use tons of garlic, sea salt and cracked pepper.
6. Depending on the meat, set on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4. Cooking on low best preserves the nutrients.
Mary Vance is a Certified Nutrition Consultant and author specializing in digestive health. In addition to her coaching practice, she offers courses to help you heal your gut and kick nagging digestive issues for good. Mary lives in San Francisco and Lake Tahoe in Northern California. Read more about her coaching practice here and her background here.