EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


November 29, 2012

The slow cooker

A slow cooker, often known by the name of the popular brand Crock-Pot, is a busy person’s most useful appliance, especially around the holidays. Many meals can be cooked while you are at work, while you are out doing something fun with the family and friends or even while you get a good night’s rest.

Here are a few tips to remember as you begin using your slow cooker.

Season meats and vegetables well with salt, pepper and fresh herbs.

Use aromatic vegetables liberally. Carrots, onions, celery, and garlic will give soups and stews a good base flavor.

Braise with rich stocks, wine and even brandy because liquids you choose will impart flavor.

Boost any dish with tomato paste and dried fruits.

Sear the meat first. A browned outer crust on the roast will also make for a tastier finished sauce. Additionally, it is best to deglaze the pan in which the meat was seared; scraping up the browned, leftovers and adding these to the cooker makes for a nice extra touch of richness.

This recipe can be changed based on season and on what you have available. It is easy to prepare and the generous leftovers can be turned into a batch of chili or become a quick meat sauce for pasta. With this one dish, you can prepare three delicious homestyle dinners for the week.

Crock-Pot Pot Roast


3 medium onions, quartered, root intact

2 pounds carrots, cut into 1-inch chunks

6 cloves garlic, smashed

2 cans whole tomatoes

3 tablespoons tomato paste

Handful dried prunes

2 to 3 fresh thyme sprigs, tied together in a bundle

Two 3-pound beef chuck roasts, tied together

2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

1 cup dry red wine

1 cup vegetable broth

1/4 cup brandy, optional


1. Place the onions, carrots, smashed garlic cloves, tomatoes, tomato paste, prunes and thyme into slow cooker liner.

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