I cringe as I sit to write this article.
We broke down and bought a slow-cooker, AKA a Crock Pot. When ours broke a number of years ago, I went back to the more traditional manners of making pot roast, chili and other family favorites on the stovetop and in Dutch ovens.
But, as time went on, the yearning was there to replace the easy cooker and so it has happened. And here I am, writing about Crock Pot (Hamilton Beach to be more precise) chili and cornbread, an easy and delicious dinner that makes me smile while I think of all of the extra time that I had to spend on the back yard. It’s about time that I picked up all of those widow-makers from Hurricane Irene. It’s about time.
As you venture down the page, you will notice white beans in the chili recipe, and I don’t want to receive any hate mail about beans in chili again. Just deal with it. Again, there are beans in this chili, much to the chagrin of true chili aficionados the globe over, but c’est la guerre. I’m from Maryland; not Texas. But I digress.
While driving home from the store with our new purchase, I was secretly excited to be able to slop everything into the pot and walk away. Since Labor Day, I’ve been building a deck which has consumed most of my ‘free’ time, and cooking has taken a back burner to other tasks.
Pot roast (while never as good as my Yankee Pot Roast vis a vis The Culinary Institute’s The Professional Chef), lasagna, chicken pot pie, stews, casseroles and other tasty and slow-cooked one-pot meals danced around my head.
Julie had heard of taco lasagna in the slow cooker so I am sure that we will be trying that at some time in the near future. As we move along in our lives with soccer games, baseball practice, after-school clubs and other goodies that accompany a family with many children, this handy little tool is starting to warm up to me.
Having all of the most high tech pans out there is a great thing for a chef, and I love my tools as a carpenter would love his saw and square. But working with my tools, I can’t help but to wonder how I will come up with extra time in the day to cook all of the extravagant dishes that I decide, whimsically of course, to cook during the week. Please note that I say this tongue-in cheek, as these meals are not cherished by the tykes.
They prefer the bland and colorless, with a few exceptions illustrating their aging taste buds. But overall, like other parents, it is still a struggle to figure out what everyone wants for dinner.
So in steps this one-pot wonder, the slow-cook King of the kitchen, and I can get everything done that I need to.
All in all, the new appliance is a welcomed new member of our family. I will cherish it, if for nothing else, for the fact that I can set it up and walk away; almost as good as having someone else cook for me.
As a friend of mine once said in response to his personal favorite food as a chef; “My favorite food is any food that I don’t have to cook.” This is close enough for me.
White Bean Chicken Chili
2# Chicken breast
2 cans Cannellini beans, drained
1 Jalapeno, finely minced
¾ c. Salsa verde
3 c. Chicken stock
Corn flour or Fritos chips (as needed)
Put all of the ingredients except for the corn in your slow cooker
Cook on high for 3 hours and then turn to low until the chicken falls apart, adjusting the seasoning as you go
The chili will be watery, so at this point add the corn flour (Masa Harina) or some Fritos corn chips. As they dissolve they will act to thicken your chili
Serve the chili with Cheddar cheese, Pepper Jack, sour cream, scallions or anything else that strikes your fancy
The chili goes very well with a sweet cornbread, so there’s a recipe below for a fail safe pepper-cornbread
2 c. cornmeal
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. Granulated sugar
2 tsp. Baking powder
1/2 tsp. Baking soda
1 cup milk
1 tsp. White vinegar
1 c. creamed corn, pureed
1 Tbsp. Vegetable oil
Cracked black pepper (as needed)
Preheat an oven to 450°
Combine all ingredients and pour into individual mini-loaves, a loaf pan or muffin pans
Cook for about 20 minutes to check. Of course, if you are cooking a large loaf, this will take significantly more time, so check it with a toothpick to ensure its doneness
Let it cool a touch and serve warm or room temperature