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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Crock-pot Virgin

Yes, that's right, I was a crock-pot virgin up until a few weeks ago when I tried my hand at a traditional roast chicken! 
I have to admit, at first I was skeptical of its functionality. Slow cookers, or crock-pots as they are often referred have saved the lives of millions of parents, coming home after a long days work to screaming kids and a load of laundry up the wall. Who has time to cook a slow-cooked meal every night with all that we have going on anyhow? The slow cooker was invented and sold in the early 1970s by Naxon Utilities in Chicago, IL. Slow cookers operate under very low heat and take several hours to cook, making it a perfect tool for stews and roasts. My husband had acquired a crock-pot from his family during his college days (which of course was never used!) and as these things go, is now taking up space in our kitchen. A few weeks ago, my mother brought over a whole chicken and suggested we use the crock-pot to cook it up... what at thought ;). Anyhow, four hours and a bottle of allegro marinade later, a beautifully moist roast chicken was created! I was so impresses by the depth of flavor and tenderness of the chicken, I almost couldn't believe it. The only disadvantage to using the crock-pot on meats, is you cannot render a good char or crisp to the skin. 

To pair with my beautiful chicken, I made a delicious gravy using chicken drippings, seasoning and marsala cooking wine. Marsala wine adds a depth of flavor, unlike any other. I suggest adding it to all of your standard gravy recipes. As a side dish, I baked parmesan and corn meal crusted carrots- delish (recipe below). Moral of the story is- NEVER discount a cooking tool before you try it, and always cook with an open, curious mind. Cheers to good eats and slow cookin!

Parmesan & Corn Meal Crusted Carrots 
1 cup parmesan and 
1 cup yellow corn meal MIXED
1-2 bunches full carrot stems 
Olive oil 
Salt, pepper, garlic powder 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Peel carrots and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle a heavy amount of olive oil over the carrots and proceed with parmesan and corn meal mixture, coating each carrot thoroughly. Drizzle the top of carrots with a little extra olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder and bake at 375 for about 30 minutes, or until crispy and tender. 

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