I have no idea why I have chosen this last week to rediscover my slow cooker. It is 70 degrees outside and I have my bastardized version of Italian Sunday “gravy” (aka tomato sauce with meat) cooking on low in the slow cooker on my kitchen counter. I had to empty out my freezer several days ago so I could store a whole bunch of frozen items for a tasting at my house for a new consulting job. It is now several days later and I decided, what the heck, I will use all the meat items I had to move to my fridge – the chunk of beef, ground bison, sausage, chorizo, andouille, kielbasa, etc and do something with them when they defrost. One of the non frozen items from the tasting was a bottled Bolognese sauce from Williams Sonoma. It was quite good and since I had three quarters of the bottle left I threw that into the pot too along with all the browned meat items, some onions, wine, beef stock and plenty of garlic. I am hoping it will all come together and taste like it was meant to be combined.
Last week I made a veal stew. I seasoned and browned all the veal chunks ahead of time and then combined them in the slow cooker with onion, garlic, some roasted cherry tomatoes, rosemary, canned tomatoes and red wine. I have learned the hard way that too much liquid produces a watery end product in a slow cooker so I went light on the liquid. I set the temperature to low and let the mixture cook for 8 hours. It gave off that amazing slow cooking smell in about the 6th hour making everyone happy as they came home. I have made stews on top of the stove and in the oven many many times and the texture cannot compare to the texture of this stew. Sometimes stewed meat cooked in or on top of an oven, comes out both tender and dry at the same time, something I have never understood. But this meat was melt in your mouth tender and moist as can be.
I have read that a slow cooker uses no more energy than a 60 watt bulb and besides the fact that you can just plug it in and forget about it, it has the added bonus of not heating up the house at all. It might just become my favorite summertime gadget.