We were spending a week in Door County, enjoying dinner at one of our old stand-by favorite restaurants (Donny’s Glidden Lodge); and, in conversation with our very pleasant waitress, this here blog thing-y came up. She was wondering if I had many slow-cooker recipes, because she and her husband had busy lives and they loved being able to come home at the end of a long day to a nice, hot dinner bubbling away on the counter.
Including my most favorite of all: Thai Pork Stew – also known as, in some cases (do to an unfortunate phone connection), Tie Poor Sue. This fine combination of pork – bone in, boneless, chops or roast, it’s all good – onion, peppers, and garlic comes together in the slow cooker with some fairly basic seasonings to make for a very satisfying dinner.
After making it every couple of months for three years now, I have a few new tricks with the stew. First, I like to use my own, home made, teriyaki sauce – I just prefer the taste. Next, I once left out the peanut butter in deference to a dinner guest with a nut allergy and discovered that I actually prefer the stew without it! Rich likes his with, so I pass a bowl of the sticky stuff to stir in as folk like with the lime wedges, nuts, scallions, etc.
Lastly, if there’s time, I really like to take two days to make the stew – cooking the pork and veggies the first day, then shredding the pork and straining out the veggies from the stock and stashing ’em all in separate containers in the fridge over night. The next day, you can peel off and discard the fat that has solidified at the top of the stock, tumble everything back into your slow cooker, and you are good to go with a good stew turned into a better (and better for you) bowl of Thai-style goodness.
Great, now I really want a bowl of this.
It also goes pretty well with this salad; which keeps to a general Asian theme, and the home made dressing is hard to beat – even though I use half the sugar similar dressings call for.
How about bacon jam?
Yes – you read that right – bacon, onion, garlic, espresso (or hot, strong coffee) and stuff combined in a skillet on top of the stove, then added to the slow cooker for a long simmering reduction time until you get a (very) rich, (very) thick half pint or so of jam from one package of bacon.
Of course, I use the slow cooker for more than pork products, like this red curry chicken, which needed a bit of spicing up, but still made for a nicely different dinner from your slow cooker.
Not into curry? No worries! Check out this very nice sesame ginger chicken – started in a skillet (to brown the chicken a bit), then finished in the slow cooker. Yum.
I normally use our full-sized Cuisinart slow cooker, but there are times I just don’t need to drag out the big boy. Like, when I have a few apples getting old in the fruit bowl and decide to make a bit of apple butter.
This smaller, one setting cooker works a treat – just add the apples, water, and vinegar, plug the pot in, and cook away.
Making apple butter makes me think of crisp, fall days; and crisp, fall days make me think of corned beef – cooked in a nice stout in your slow cooker and always welcome for dinner or, later, for sammiches.
I may have first made these tangy pork meatballs for dinner, but they’d work a treat at a party, and sweet and sour kielbasa is hard to beat, especially if you’ve found a nice, extra-heavy-on-the-garlic kielbasa provider.
And what slow cooker compendium would be complete without a take on cocktail meatballs and jelly? But these meatballs are home made, a bit fussier to put together than just opening a bag from your market’s freezer section, but way more better.
Happy slow cooking!