My favorite way to use the slow cooker is on the high setting, where I can count on meats not being dried out and flavorless. That’s what I find happens when you cook meat for 8-10 hours while you are at work. Soups and dried bean recipes do well for the long cooking, but even then any added meats are usually overcooked, unless you have a large piece like a pork shoulder. So, I’ve found a number of recipes that cook up in 3-5 hours, like my Butter Chicken/Pheasant recipe, that takes care of the delicate little pheasant breasts. Of course, I’m retired, so I can make use of the shorter cooking times any day of the week.
This slow cooker pulled chicken is a variation of the slow cooker pulled pork recipe originally from Chowhound. Here are the few changes I’ve made to accommodate chicken:
- I cut back the cinnamon in the rub to 1/2 teaspoon
- I rubbed the chicken pieces with the rub and let them marinate in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for about 4 hours
- I only used one onion and 1/2 cup of chicken broth, because I only used 5 boneless chicken thighs
Marinated chicken on onion-garlic bed
Sandwiches with slaw
Slow Cooker Pulled Chicken
- 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
- 4-5 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- Place the chicken and rub in a large plastic bag, seal, and turn to coat all pieces well. Refrigerate for about 4 hours or even overnight.
- In the crock of a slow cooker, place the onions, garlic, and chicken broth. Place the chicken pieces on top and close the lid.
- Cook on high for about 4 hours. Pull the chicken apart in the crock and mix well with the onions and broth.
- Pile meat on buns and serve your favorite way, which for us is with a creamy slaw.
How to make corned beef reminiscent of pastrami—and really tasty—in a slow cooker
This probably doesn’t compare to the pastrami at your favorite deli, but I was looking for something different to do with a corned beef brisket flat. The whole boiled dinner with cabbage and potatoes doesn’t do it for me, even though I am significantly Irish in my ancestry. Options for what else to do with corned beef are slim on the web. Surprisingly, a lot of people try to make it into pastrami, most with drawn out processes of wrapping in multiple layers of foil and slow cooking in the oven, refrigerating, and then broiling for browning—way more work than I had in mind—and that doesn’t even include smoking, which is a necessary step for authentic pastrami. But it’s December. It’s snowy and overcast. I just want to use the slow cooker.
So, I would say that what I made is reminiscent of pastrami. I ground up the spice packet that came with the corned beef and added those spices (whatever they are) to others that are common to most pastrami recipes—smoked paprika, garlic, lots and lots of black pepper, white pepper, ground mustard, and chipotle powder (for a little more smoke). Mixed with olive oil, the resulting wet rub is brushed over all sides of the corned beef, and then the whole thing is cooked on high in the slow cooker (probably around 250°) for 6 hours. I did that early enough to be able to refrigerate it for a while before trying to slice it.
We did eat it in sandwiches, but I’m not going to say how we ate it, because I don’t want to offend you finicky purists who would banish me to deli hell for not using rye bread and mustard. Why would I try to please some mythical deli owner instead of our own palates, anyway? I would eat the traditional sandwich, but my husband would never touch rye bread nor mustard if he were starving. I consider it a great success that I trained him to eat sauerkraut on New Year’s Day and like it.
Fabulous change of pace for the old corned beef brisket. Tomorrow, I think I’m going to eat some in flat bread with roasted peppers.
Rub all over corned beef…
Walk away for 6 hours
Slow Cooker Pastrami, Sort Of
- 4 lbs corned beef brisket flat with spice packet (I guess you could use the point as well)
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon crushed garlic or garlic paste
- 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- 4 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper (really)
- 1/2 teaspoon finely ground white pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle
- Rinse corned beef and pat dry. Place in slow cooker.
- Grind contents of spice packet that came with the corned beef in a spice grinder or blender. Surprisingly, the contents of that packet were not listed on the package. Here are some ideas of what could be in the packet.
- Add the ground spice packet to the rest of the ingredients. Brush or rub the wet rub all over the corned beef in the slow cooker. Make sure the fat side is up when you are done.
- Close the cooker and cook on high for 6 hours. Remove the meat to a platter and cool for at least an hour in the refrigerator.
- Slice thinly or however you prefer.
Even if it’s not authentic pastrami, the flavor is there and it’s a nice change from corned beef.
You can enjoy baby back ribs without the barbecue grill and all the sugary barbecue sauces any time of year. After all, it’s just pork 🐖. Think of some of your favorite ways to cook a pork roast or chops, and transfer those flavors to ribs.
I’m cooking mine in a slow cooker with a wet rub of garlic, thyme, salt and pepper, and olive oil. Cooked on a bed of onions and a little chicken stock, they will make a savory dish, served with herbed rice and a vegetable.
Unless I’m making stock or cooking dried beans, my favorite way to use the slow cooker is on high for about 5-6 hours. I find that to be best for achieving results similar to roasting in the oven. You don’t need lots of liquid—sometimes none at all—and I only used 1/2 cup of chicken stock in this dish, mostly to keep the caramelizing onions from drying out, and to provide a little steam to keep the meat moist.
Unlike with barbecued ribs, I like to serve these in larger pieces, about half a rack for one person. It looks pretty impressive on the plate, not at all like summer picnic fare.
Slow Cooker Savory Ribs for Two
- 1 rack baby back ribs, about 3 lbs or smaller, back membrane removed
- 2-3 medium onions, thickly sliced
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- wet rub:
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme (or the herb of your choice)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons mashed or grated garlic
- 1-2 tablespoons olive oil (enough to mix with dry ingredients and still be spreadable)
- Scatter sliced onions over bottom of slow cooker.
- Pour in chicken stock.
- Arrange ribs, probably cut into halves to fit, over onions.
- Cover ribs with wet rub.
- Cook on high for 5 hours.
- Life carefully for serving, as they will want to fall apart.
Of all the dishes I’ve done with pheasant, I don’t think I’ve tried any slow cooker recipes, so here’s my first (and I finally added a Slow Cooker category). It cooks rather quickly, even in a slow cooker, at just 3-5 hours on low; I wouldn’t try it for one of those all-day recipes where you start it in the morning and go to work. I fear the tender little breasts would be tasteless and dry by the end of an entire day.
There are lots of recipes out there for butter chicken, but just a few elements tie them together:
- Butter—there is no substitute for this, or you have to call the dish something else
- Something creamy—yogurt, cream, or coconut milk
- Tomato—fresh tomatoes, tomato paste, or thick tomato sauce
- Spices—garam masala, curry powder or paste, ginger, chili powder, cumin
Easy and really tasty.
Sauce mixed into cubes
More butter, please!
Pheasant Breasts—Butter Chicken Style
- 2 lbs pheasant breasts, cut in large cubes
- 1 large or two medium onions, thinly sliced
- 3-4 tablespoons butter; more for serving
- 2 cups thick tomato sauce (see my roasted tomato sauce here)
- 1 can coconut milk (I used full fat)
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch, mixed with a little of the coconut milk
- 2 teaspoons garam masala
- 1 teaspoon red curry powder
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 4 teaspoons garlic paste or roasted garlic
- 2 tablespoons ginger paste or 2 inches fresh ginger grated
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
- Optional: cilantro, if you like it, for serving or stirred into the sauce
- Melt butter over medium heat in a large skillet and saute onions until translucent.
- Stir in spices, salt and pepper, garlic, and ginger, cooking until fragrant.
- Stir in tomato sauce, coconut milk and cornstarch/coconut milk mixture. Simmer until slightly thickened.
- Pour sauce over cubed pheasant in slow cooker. Cook on low for 3-4 hours, but not longer than 5 hours.
Serve with brown basmati rice and warm naan. Place a pat of butter on each serving for a little decadence.