It slices! It dices!
The story of an old gadget brought back to life.
When I decided I wanted a crock-pot, it’s all I could think about. It became this thing that I needed. It was going to make my life in the kitchen so much easier. It was going to revolutionize planning for meals! Well, essentially, I was hoping it would be the beginning of breaking the horrible habit I had developed of eating out practically every meal. In my mind, the ease of setting and forgetting what would surely be the best soups and stews ever was soon to be a breeze (because clearly all I was planning to eat ever again was soup).The part about it being easy? Not true…at least not at first.
After getting my first slow cooker, I quickly learned that using it and ending up with tasty and delicious meals wasn’t going to be as easy as I had thought. I expected to be able to toss all of my ingredients into the pot, set it, and forget it. This was definitely not the case, and clearly some research needed to be done. I will admit that I felt defeated after my first stew attempt, and quickly let my new gadget sit to the wayside…for a year
Knowing that I would need a cookbook dedicated to the crock-pot, I did my homework, and landed on Slow Cooker Revolution from America’s Test Kitchen to guide me. Right away, they offered lots of useful information; how to choose a slow cooker, how test the temperature of the one you chose, and most importantly, not to skip on the aromatics. I learned that flavors can actually become more muted as a result of being cooked for many hours and so starting the process by cooking down base ingredients - onions, garlic, carrots, etc - with spices to release their flavors was a crucial step. Their recipes direct that this be done in a microwave, which definitely made me wary of everything. As my old roommate can attest, I am vehemently against microwaves unless in dire circumstances. That being said, I figured for my first recipe out of this book, I would throw my microwave hate to the side, and take their advice and follow all of the instructions. And am sure I glad I did.
Slow Cooker Revolution, from America’s Test Kitchen
Truth? I’ve never really had chili. However for some reason, I knew I liked it. I am neither vegan, nor much of a vegetarian anymore, but I’ve had my feelings about certain meat products for some time now. Many of those feelings are dissipating - and this is a story for another time - but I still steer clear of ground meat, and thus, chili.
Anyway, I was super excited for this recipe not only to finally have some chili, but also to discover a new use for tempeh beyond my tired pan fry.A decidedly straightforward recipe that, after all is said and done, may be one of the easiest recipes I have ever followed. There is definitely a good amount of prep, but once that is complete, you have 4-6 hours to relax while actual magic happens. …magic that resulted in a chili that I actually had to force myself to walk away from. Surprisingly, I only altered one ingredient - the amount of chipotles en adobo. The recipe called for 1 tablespoon, but it just didn’t seem like enough, so I added a total of 3 tablespoons. Makes sense, right? I was nervous after licking the chili spoon and wanting to cry from the pain, but in the end, it was a great choice as the overall kick was minimal.
My only gripe with the recipe, and thus the entire book, is there is no mention of preheating the slow cooker. I imagine there is some reasoning behind this, and considering they tested 9 types of chickpeas for another recipe, again, I will follow their lead. Regardless, I can’t wait to try more from this book!
2 onions, minced
2 carrots, peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and chopped fine
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
9 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 (28oz) can crushed tomatoes
1 (15oz) can kidney beans drained and rinsed
1 (8oz) package tempeh, crumbled into ¼-inch pieces
1 cup water
1 teaspoon minced canned chipotle chili in adobo sauce
1 zucchini (about 8oz) quartered lengthwise and sliced ½ inch thick
1 cup frozen corn
½ cup minced fresh cilantro
salt and pepper
1. Microwave onions, carrots, bell pepper, oil, garlic, chili powder, oregano, and cumin in bowl, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened, 8 to 10 minutes; transfer to slow cooker.
2. Stir tomatoes, beans, tempeh, water, and chipotles into slow cooker. Cover and cook until chili flavors have melded and tempeh is tender, 4 to 6 hours on low.
3. Stir in zucchini, cover and continue to cook on high until tender, 20-30 minutes. Stir in corn and let sit until heated through, about 5 minutes. Stir in cilantro, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.