Five Essential Crock Pot Recipes

It is said that blogging is a conversation between bloggers and their readers, and hopefully it is never more evident than it is with this post. A few weeks ago, a cadre of my readers basically demanded that I post a listing of my ten favorite crock pot recipes as a solution to saving money by cooking at home and also saving time in the evening for a busy family. I spent about half an hour flipping through my recipes and selected ten of my favorite recipes. However, actually typing them up and translating my weird little notes is taking a substantial amount of time, so I’ve decided to post the first five now and the next five at a later date.

Hopefully, at least a few of these will spark your imagination (and taste buds) as well. Please note that many of these recipes will make a substantial quantity of food – we tend to eat a crock pot meal for two or three days and occasionally freeze leftovers as well. Also note that I tried to go with recipes that were savory and a bit unusual, but fairly simple.

One big tip! If you’re going to leave these on for more than eight hours, add an extra half a cup of water before you go. The biggest danger for cooking things in a crock pot longer than that is having the food dry out.

Without further ado…

1. Beef Burgundy

2 slices bacon – cooked and chopped
2 pounds sirloin tips cut into small cubes (one inch or so)
1 garlic clove

1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/4 teaspoon marjoram
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 beef boullion cube, crushed
1 cup red wine (Burgundy if you have it)

2 tablespoons corn starch
2 tablespoons water
4 ounces fresh mushrooms (optional)

Chop up the bacon and sirloin tips and cook them in a skillet for several minutes along with the garlic clove (make it two cloves if you like garlic flavor). While the meat is cooking, put everything else together except for the mushrooms, corn starch, and water in the crock pot and stir it. Dump in the entire contents of the skillet, stir the mixture, and set it on low. Leave for work. Come home, mix together the corn starch and water, pour that in, add the mushrooms, and kick it up to high for 15 final minutes. Serve.

2. Chicken Stew

2 pounds skinless boneless chicken breasts, cut into small cubes
2 cups chicken broth
3 cups potatoes, cubed
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup sliced celery
1 cup sliced carrots
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon sage
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 small can (6 ounce) tomato paste

1/4 cup cold water
3 tablespoons corn starch

Throw in everything but the corn starch and the water, stir it, and leave it on low for eight or ten hours. Come home, mix the water and the corn starch, dump it in, turn it on high for thirty minutes, and serve. Easy as pie.

3. (Like) Lasagna

1 box of pasta (rotini, ziti, something like that that looks like fun)
2 big jars pasta sauce (28 oz. each)
1 medium can diced tomatoes
3 eggs
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound sausage
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups Parmesan cheese
2 cups mozzarella cheese
2 cups ricotta cheese
1 1/2 tablespoons parsley flakes

Cook the pasta according to directions (about five minutes). Cook the meats together and drain. Mix the pasta and olive oil and put the pasta on the bottom of the crock pot. Mix the meat, one cup of each of the cheeses, and one of the eggs and put that on top of the pasta. Mix the remaining ingredients and put that on the very top. Cover the crock pot, turn it on low, and come home to some faux lasagna.

4. Corn Stuffed Pork Chops

6 pork chops (see note below)
2 tablespoons green pepper, minced
2 ears sweet corn, cut from cob (or 1 can of corn)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sage
1 cup soft bread crumbs (you can tear bread into tiny pieces for this)
1 tablespoon minced onion (from the spice aisle)

When you go to the butcher to get the pork chops, tell the butcher you plan to stuff the chops and have him/her cut a large pouch in each one so you can stuff them. Mix everything else, stuff the chops with the mixture, close the slits with toothpicks, then sit them on a metal rack in the crock pot. Dump in three tablespoons of water, set it on low, and walk away.

5. Bratwursts, Sauerkraut, and Potatoes

(incidentally, my favorite recipe of all)

6 to 8 large bratwursts, boiled
2 bags (16 ounces each) sauerkraut, rinsed and well drained (I make my own ‘kraut, but very few people do)
1 medium yellow onion, sliced
1/2 teaspoon caraway seed (highly optional)
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
6 to 8 medium red potatoes, peeled and quartered
32 ounces beer (I like using Guinness or Rogue Dead Guy Ale)

Put everything in the crock pot. Turn it on low. Walk away for at least eight hours.