Friends, I have resisted the allure of the crock-pot for years. YEARS. In my mind, crock-pots produce such things as sticky, too-sweet barbecue meatballs, casseroles swimming in cream-of-whatever soup, and meals that all generally tasted the same – like not-quite-great pot roast. Meals long simmered past the point of distinct flavors and textures – no thank you.
But some of you have requested, pleaded even, that I get a crock-pot and post recipes here in the Whole Kitchen. And when I read Rick Bayless’ cookbooks and see that even he uses a crock-pot, I decided that my fears 1980s crock-pot meals needed to be set aside so that I could face the ‘pot honestly.
For my first attempt, I went with a recipe that I was comfortable with and felt low-risk for cooking in the ‘pot. Our pantry was a bit bare after spending the holidays in Michigan and I was recovering from a gluten-attack, so I also wanted to make something from what was in the house so I wouldn’t have to walk a mile to the store. Posole was an easy winner – when I’m gut-sick most people might want bland food, but I will always crave brothy soups spiked with chiles. Posole fit the bill nicely.
So far as I can tell, contemporary crock-pot meals are not the one-pot affair so cleverly marketed back in the day – this one required three pots: one to cook hominy, one to saute the aromatics and the crock-pot insert, but it was well worth the dishes. The finished soup was every bit as good as stove-top cooked posole – the chicken was perfectly cooked not dry or water-logged, the vegetables retained their distinct identities and I really enjoyed that once everything was in the pot, I could just forget about it until serving time. I think I’m going to like the crock-pot life.
What are your top crock-pot tips and recipes? Help me out with a liltle advice in the comments section below!
Crock-pot Chicken Posole
Adapted from my stove-top posole recipe
1 cup whole, dried hominy
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp salt
Cooking hominy: Place the dried hominy in a large bowl and cover with three inches of water. Soak overnight. After soaking, drain the corn and rinse it. Pour the corn into a 3qt pot, fill with water, add salt and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for an hour, until the hominy is about ¾ cooked – the corn will still be a little tough and very chewy. Strain and put the corn in the crock pot. (You can substitute a 28 ounce can of cooked hominy if you don’t feel like cooking it from dried hominy)
½ chicken, skin removed and broken down into a few pieces
4 cups chicken stock
1 14oz can fire-roasted tomatoes with chipotles (Muir Glen brand)
1 T oil
1 onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 T corn flour
¼ cup tomato paste
3/4 cup frozen sweet corn, thawed
2 T ancho chile powder
2 tsp cumin, ground
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp coriander, ground
½ can of black beans, drained and rinsed (optional)
cilantro & sliced green onions for garnish
juice of half a lime
salt to taste
- Place the raw chicken pieces and mostly cooked hominy in the slow cooker.
- Heat a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the oil, onion, celery, carrot and bell pepper to the pot and saute for about 5 minutes, until the onions are translucent. Sprinkle the corn flour over the vegetables, then add the garlic, ancho chile powder, tomato paste, cumin, smoked paprika, cumin and stir for one minute. Add the can of fire roasted tomatoes and stir, cooking for another 5 minutes to develop the flavors.
- Scoop the tomato-vegetable mixture into the crock pot and pour in the chicken stock and stir it all together. Set the crock pot to cook for 4 and a half hours on low, and let the crock pot do the rest of the work.
- When the timer beeps, remove the chicken pieces from the pot and let cool for a few minutes before removing the meat from the bones and dicing into bite-sized pieces. Add the diced chicken back to the crock pot and add the black beans and sweet corn. Stir, taste and add salt as needed. Heat through, then squeeze the juice of half a lime into the pot. Stir, then serve each bowl garnished with cilantro and green onions.