Last week convinced me that I need to avoid fast food restaurants at all costs. On a day of power shopping, it was "convenient" to grab a value pack meal from the Colonel on the way home. Two cups of ginger tea later, I finally regained a calm stomach and realized I had better stick to what I do best.
Cooking so defines my lifestyle; it's a form of art that is subjective, yet creative. And seeing that I like my food like I like a brewed cup of tea - done with purpose with an end result that's worth the wait - you can't (and shouldn't) rush art.
Silly of me to think that cooking in a slow cooker was merely throwing a couple of ingredients together, walking away and returning hours later to a meal of perfection. When America's Test Kitchen sent me a copy of their Slow Cooker Revolution for review, it dawned on me that even the simplest form of one-dish meals should have as much prep thought as oven-top cuisine. As the subtitle One Kitchen. 30 Slow Cookers. 200 Amazing Recipes states, they took the science of slow cooking to a new level with this tried-and-true collection of recipes.
The first Aha moment for me was realizing how the prep is the means to the end. For example, five minutes of blooming aromatics in the microwave beats the heck out of having to sauté. Or the fact that putting cut vegetables in a foil packet keeps them out of the cooking liquid and helps from overcooking. And the fact that NO chicken should be cooked beyond six hours (no matter what the recipe calls for) to ensure its moistness (guilty as charged, as I have returned home to my share of dry chicken).
As I read through the recipes in the cookbook, it brought to mind a confession I recently made to a LinkedIn associate; my interest is slowly being diverted from fashion shows to cooking shows; HA! Speaking of shows, America's Test Kitchen is by far my favorite, because it doesn't glamourize the culinary experience. Instead, it gives you solutions to kitchen mishaps that happen to the best of us.
Now for the recipes-
They had me at the Peach Ginger Crisp! I have never seen such a diverse compilation of mouth-watering recipes. Once I finished drooling over the pictures of Italian Stuffed Bell Peppers, Cassoulet and Parmesan Risotto, I decide to go basic first by making the Honey-Mustard Drumsticks, a tag team slow cooker recipe that ends with a light charring/crisping in the oven. With my local supermarket's campaign not to raise the price of value-pack meats for the entire year, it was also a poshly frugal and so-very-necessary choice in these days of rising food costs.
The drumsticks, ready for the six-hour journey (the cookbook suggests you spray with vegetable oil to prevent from sticking; I used canola oil)
The pre-glazing of the Dijon mustard/honey mixture, right before it goes into the oven
The end result; tangy, moist chicken that was well worth the 6 1/2 hour wait!
When it's all said and done, Slow Cooker Revolution has quickly replaced my other slow cooker cookbook. Whether it is breakfast (French Toast Casserole?!!!), brunch, a main course or dessert, it has all this One Woman Army needs to stage a culinary coup against the Colonel.