There are days when I use my crockpot as a portal of discovery for new and delicious recipes and flavors. There are other days when all I want is for it to provide me with adequate dinner nutrients (exciting culinary discoveries be damned!). On the latter type of day, I improvise crockpot meals using a very basic formula, and the result is almost always edible.
Sounds convincing, eh? Maybe not, but if you start with this formula and adapt it to your needs, you will, at worst, use up some unloved foodstuffs, and at best, create a magnificent new dish.
Basic Crockpot Anything
- Vegetables (e.g. baby carrots, sweet potatoes, onions)
- Meat (especially a roast or other large, cheaper cut)
- 1/2 – 2 cups liquid (broth, condensed soup + water, apple cider, whatever sounds good)
- Slice vegetables to be under 2″, if necessary. Place vegetables in bottom of crockpot.
- Brown meat in a pan (optional). Place meat atop vegetables.
- Pour liquid over vegetables and meat. (For best cooking, crockpot should be about 1/2 – 2/3 of the way full.)
- Turn on the crockpot and walk away. You may either cook it for 1 hour on High and then 5-6 hours on Low, or just 8-10 hours on Low. Check it a few times during cooking.
- Add seasonings, if desired. You can also stir in more delicate food elements at this time, like tomatoes, greens, cheese, etc.
- Serve. (If saving leftovers, store them in a new container, not the crockpot.)
Note: Be cautious when putting frozen meats in the crockpot. Because of the slower, lower heat of the crockpot, they may defrost dangerously.
Here’s an example of this delicate art. For this one, I used 4 boneless pork chops, a bag of baby carrots, a container of condensed cream of mushroom soup, and a splash of water: