Traverse City Record-Eagle

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April 17, 2014

Foodie with Family: Bring an end to slow cooker mush

Slow-cookers get a bum rap for turning out bland, homogenous, texturally-challenged food. Why do people have this misconception?

I want to whisper a little theory because it’s not a very popular one — I think it’s because people believe you can dump any old thing in there along with a can or two of condensed cream-of-something soup and it’ll magically turn out a delightful meal.

There’s a little more to it than that. Not much, mind you, but a lot of folks balk when you say such a thing.

The truth is that, like most other things in life, you get out of it what you put into it. If you start with frozen chicken breasts and a can of cream of mushroom soup, you’re going to get a nice, shreddy, cafeteria style food.

Start with a fresh pork loin, some chopped sweet potatoes, and a little attention to detail, and you’re going to end up with something that is worthy of being served to company. I suppose my life analogy falls apart a bit there, much like boneless, skinless chicken breasts in the slow-cooker.

The point remains. Fresh foods going into the slow-cooker equal fresh-tasting foods coming out of it.

There’s a little science to it, too. Not all fresh foods make it through the slow-cooking process equally. A good rule of thumb is that if it tastes good in something you’d stew, braise, roast, or otherwise cook for a long period of time in anything else, it’ll probably work well in the slow-cooker.

I have some one-step-beyond-open-and-dump but fifty levels better recipes that’ll help reduce your time in the kitchen while still turning out impressive and tasty vittles.

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