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slides: 12 Delicious Slow-Cooker Recipes For Winter

Monday, January 21, 2013


With the winter chill setting in, it's the perfect time to get the slow cooker (aka the crock pot) simmering up some savory, warm-up meals.

GoLocal asked Rhode Island-based food writer Lydia Walshin, whose blog, The Perfect Pantry, is a critically acclaimed go-to for healthy and inventive cooking, to share some of her favorite new and time-honored recipes. All photos courtesy of The Perfect Pantry.

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Chicken + White Bean Stew

Slow Cooker Lemon-Garlic Chicken and White Bean Stew

While it's true that Rival invented the Crock-Pot®, back in 1971, the company didn't invent slow cooking. Clay pots, tagines and Dutch ovens all predate the electric slow cooker. This chicken and white bean stew springs from the French farmhouse tradition of slow cooking in a pot set into the fireplace.

Today, thanks to an inexpensive piece of kitchen equipment (the slow cooker I used for this recipe cost less than $20), I can make stew without hauling in wood, building a fire, raking the embers, and lugging a heavy cast-iron Dutch oven from the kitchen to set into the hearth. Lemon and garlic create the flavor base for this healthy, naturally gluten-free stew, which, like most stews, tastes even better the second day.

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Beef Stew

Slow Cooker Beef Stew with Potatoes, Parsnips and Rutabaga

The first stew of the season always sets the bar for the stews that follow, which means that this will be a good winter for stew! My husband Ted is the stew lover in our house, and he certainly loved this one.

Also: One amazing thing to know about frozen pearl onions: They're already peeled. Really, nothing else matters. No more crying, no more sniffling, no more burning candles or running your hands under cold water or wearing funny goggles, no more swearing you'll never peel a big batch of tiny onions again. I promise. These will change your life. And if they're good enough for a contessa, they're good enough for me.

Get the full recipe, here.

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Beef Stew II

Beef, Ale and Onion Stew

The other day my friend Lucia made a beef and beer stew that sounded divine, so when I found a single bottle of Guinness stout in my pantry, I knew just what to do with it. Like all stews, this one improves on the second day. By the third day, however, it will probably be gone. It's that good. Make it in a slow cooker, or in a Dutch oven on top of the stove.

Get the full recipe, here.

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Beer-Braised Beef

Slow Cooker Beer-Braised Beef with Kale

When I found a couple of bottles of O'Doul's nonalcoholic beer in the far recesses of my refrigerator, along with a partial bag of chopped kale, I searched the pantry and freezer for other ingredients that would bring those two together. This year I've made a real effort to cook with more dark leafy greens, especially kale, and though I didn't love it last January, I can say honestly that I love kale now. For my husband Ted, a true believer when it comes to any variation of beef stew, I decided to put that "near beer" to good use in this braised beef with kale. The slow cooker makes it easy; let the beef cook all day while you're out running errands, and half an hour before you serve, stir in the kale so it retains some texture without turning to mush. Like all stews, it's even better the second day, and it freezes well, too.

Get the full recipe, here.

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Green Chile Chicken

Slow Cooker Green Chile Chicken

This slow cooker green chile chicken typifies the budget-friendly recipes my summer intern, Chelsea, and I created with college students in mind. Throw a few ingredients into the slow cooker on the way to classes in the morning, and come back to a ready-to-eat dinner at the end of the day. We paired this chicken with quick and easy black beans and rice, and rolled everything in a tortilla with a bit of salsa on top. It's nutritious and economical, as a small bit of chicken is all you need with rice and beans, and you'll have plenty of time left to do homework -- or play with your kids, or read a book, or watch reruns of The Good Wife on television.

Get the full recipe, here.

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Indian-Spiced Squash

Slow Cooker Indian-Spiced Butternut Squash

It was love at first sight when the mailman delivered my copy of Anupy Singla's book, The Indian Slow Cooker. Pre-book, my slow cooker dishes all seemed like the same old stew. Since, then, I've enjoyed my slow cooker more, and I'm preparing Indian food more often, too. This butternut squash would make a wonderful side to either the Pakistani "old clothes" beef curry or the chicken vindaloo. And, like those two recipes, this one can be made in advance and reheated. It will take longer to cut up the squash than to get the rest of the dish ready for the slow cooker, and if your slow cooker (like mine) has a slightly ill-fitting lid that allows some of the aroma to escape during cooking, you'll be rewarded with the rich scent of Indian spices throughout the day.

Get the full recipe, here.

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Lentil + Brown Rice Soup

Slow Cooker Lentil and Brown Rice Soup with Preserved Lemons and Garlic Sausage

A condiment used extensively in North African cuisine, preserved lemons don't taste like fresh lemons at all, and you really can't substitute one for the other. Preserved lemons, pickled in a salty brine, taste most like capers -- a mildly fruity and floral flavor that adds a surprising bite to soups and stews -- and you can slip them into dishes that usually call for capers. Best of all, It's incredibly easy to make them in your own kitchen. All you need are lemons, kosher salt, a glass jar, and a little bit of patience.

The combination of preserved lemon and garlic really makes this soup sing. For the stovetop version of this recipe, please visit Soup Chick.

Get the full recipe, here.

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Puerto Rican Black Beans

Slow Cooker Puerto Rican Black Beans with Sofrito and Cilantro

Three times I attempted this black bean recipe, as I tried to recreate a dish I enjoyed years ago in a local Puerto Rican restaurant. Three times I loaded my slow cooker with dried beans, not presoaked, just rinsed and picked over. First, I tried cooking them without any seasoning, thinking I'd add the flavorings at the end so they wouldn't keep the beans from softening. (Not enough water; the beans turned into a solid blob before I realized it.) The second time, I added sufficient liquid, but in an act of defiance, the perfectly cooked beans refused to absorb the sofrito, tomato or spices. (Blech.) The third time, success: dry beans, correct amount of water, sofrito and tomato and spices added right at the beginning, everything coming together with no more intervention on my part than a stir somewhere between hours five and six. In a pinch, you can substitute store-bought sofrito (I like Goya red sofrito, though it contains a tiny amount of MSG), but it takes just a minute to make your own from scratch.

Get the full recipe, here.

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Tomatillo Chicken Tacos

Slow Cooker Tomatillo Chicken and Black Bean Tacos

A sentence I never imagined I'd utter: I'm a fool for shredded meat. I'm a bigger fool for shredded meat made in the slow cooker, which does all of the work of breaking down the connective tissue so I just come along at the very end of cooking, and have at it with a couple of forks. Nothing could be easier. Over the past few months, I've been slow cooking and shredding lots of chicken, rolling and stuffing it into sandwiches, tortillas and pitas. One of my favorite variations, these tomatillo chicken and black bean tacos, starts with store-bought tomatillo salsa. Fresh tomatillos are hard to find in my small Rhode Island town; neither the markets nor farmstands have them, so good quality, all-natural salsa is a great option, and it's something I always have in the pantry.

Get the full recipe, here.

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Chicken + Rice Casserole

Slow Cooker Mom's Circa-1960 Chicken and Rice Casserole

In the 1960s, my parents -- like the parents of all of my friends -- entertained by hosting bridge parties. Out came the card tables and the bowls of Chex mix, the cocktails and rumaki. Occasionally, though, the parties involved dinner, and on those occasions, my mother pulled out her one and only "party" dish, baked chicken and rice casserole with onions and mushrooms. It sounds rather ordinary, I know, but in fact it met the test for great party food: you had to make it in advance, and it was so good that people didn't mind eating it again and again. I haven't had that casserole in many years, but the taste memory stayed with me, and I decided to adapt it for the slow cooker. All in all, I loved this recreation of my mother's best dish. If only I'd learned to play bridge.

Get the full recipe, here.

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Poached Pears

Slow Cooker Poached Pears in Caramel Sauce

These poached pears in caramel sauce are a winner. They're simple and elegant on their own, which is how I like them, but a scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream on top will melt the heart of even the most die-hard pie fan.

Get the full recipe, here.

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Nutella Bread Pudding

Slow Cooker Chocolate and Nutella® Bread Pudding

Almost any type of bread will work in this recipe; cut the crust off very crusty bread, as I did, or use challah or brioche or leftover croissants, or even day-old hamburger buns. Serve this when it's warm and gooey, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream on top. Oh, joy.

Get the full recipe, here.


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These are great! I especially liked the pear recipe. It reminds me of a recipe I got from a cookbook owned by my wife's late aunt. Poach the pears in simple syrup, and then when they are to be served, pour some dark rum over them and flambe them.

Comment #1 by Michael Trenn on 2013 01 22

sounds great

Comment #2 by Fran plain and simple on 2013 02 19

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