Sale at Target, I ended up with a crockpot

publickmanJuly 14, 2013

Yesterday Kevin told me that Target was having a clearance sale on Paula Deen cookware, and so I said we should go and check it out. Almost all of the PD cookware had sold out, but I did find a nice PD black pot/sauce pan that I thought I could use. I liked the size of it - 7" diameter x 4-3/4" high (3 quart) and oven safe to 350 degrees. I already had a copper bottom sauce pan that is 7" diameter, but it is only 3-1/4" high and does not have an oven safe handle. Since I have a white kettle, I thought it would be poetic justice to buy a black PD pot. Unfortunately, it does not work on induction burners, but then almost nothing I saw at Target did.

While I was there (and I very seldom visit Target - maybe once or twice a year), I saw a 4-quart B&D crock pot for cheap and decided that it was time to try one out. At least it has an attractive polished aluminum finish, although I plan to keep it out of sight. I stored it where I thought I might store the bread machine, but now I am thinking of storing the bread machine in the garage, since I only use it once a week, and it is not heavy. It really is ugly to look at on the counter, and I found that I only have gold lame fabric - no silver lame - although I have not finished looking for suitable covering fabric, in case I decide to leave it on the counter. The crock pot fits easily in one of my lower cabinets, but the bread machine is a tight fit there.

I thought the crock pot might be useful in the summer, but all I can think of to make in it is beans and maybe a chicken. It is supposed to hold a 3 pound chicken, but I'm not sure I can find a chicken that small. If not, I can cut one up to fit in, I guess, or just buy thighs and breasts. It seems that crock pots are best for cooking beef, but I will not be doing that just for myself.

What is your favorite non-beef crock pot dish? Is it good for cooking cut up chicken, or should the chicken be whole?


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Good finds, Lars! I'm sure you'll find all kinds of ways to use both new items. My favorite in the crockpot is to cook pork for pulled pork. I've done chicken in a pre-bought cream soup as well as beef. I've also fixed a small, bone-in turkey breast in my crockpot and it was wonderful.


    Bookmark   July 14, 2013 at 9:49PM
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I bought a four pound chicken today and will try to see if it will fit. I plan to pack the crock tonight and start the cooking when I come home for lunch tomorrow. I probably will not have room for any vegetables, but I can cook them in my pressure cooker. I haven't tried cooking chicken in the pressure cooker, and maybe I should have considered that option.

I will take your advice and look for a bone-in turkey breast for the next time. I think I can find one under three pounds.


    Bookmark   July 14, 2013 at 10:15PM
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Lars, I use mine a lot for beans, but I also use it to make oatmeal overnight so it's ready for breakfast the next day, I use it for soup, rice pudding, I've made yogurt in mine (although I think the dehydrator works better) and Makayla has made little individual cheesecakes in my canning jars and some chocolate pudding type cake.

I don't like ground meat cooked in the crockpot, it tends to cook until it's too soft and I don't like the texture. Chicken can dry out if you aren't careful with it too. I've also used it to make spaghetti sauce and to keep things like meatballs warm for potlucks and family parties.

I just saw an America's Test Kitchen/Cook's Country show where they cooked a brisket by placing an overturned loaf pan in the bottom of the crock and putting the meat on top to keep it from "boiling" in the cooking liquid.

I'll look forward to seeing what you make in yours!


    Bookmark   July 14, 2013 at 11:47PM
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That must have been a giant crock pot.

I remember a long time ago there was a thread on this forum about caramelizing onions in a crock pot. I occasionally think about trying that, but never have. I love caramelized onions, so maybe I will try it some day.

I rarely use my crock pot, but I do for beans and the rare time that I or Jerry makes pot roast. He gets a hankering for it. But, that's beef and not what you asked for.

Okay, I did a search on Google, and found the thread about the onions.

Have fun with your new toys, um, tools.


Here is a link that might be useful: Crockpot caramelized onions

    Bookmark   July 15, 2013 at 8:21AM
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That onion soup recipe looks good and easy - I will save those instructions for the future. I plan on putting onions with the chicken when I cook it, but I will have to do that at lunch. I was too tired last night to put it together. We had dinner rather late - 9:00 - because I did some late evening gardening. We found wild-caught Alaskan salmon at the market, but the pieces were thin, and so I baked it with dill and capers and made potatoes with onions in the pressure cooker. The salmon was less flavorful than I expected, and so it might have been previously frozen, but at least it was not farmed.

I guess I will use this recipe for the crock pot whole chicken, but I was concerned that it did not have any liquid in it. Is this normal? The pot instructions said to fill the pot at least half way up. I think I will have time to prepare this during lunch, cook it on high for 4-5 hours, and then have it ready for dinner. I feel a bit uncomfortable about leaving it to cook with no water, however.


This post was edited by publickman on Mon, Jul 15, 13 at 12:25

    Bookmark   July 15, 2013 at 11:35AM
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Lars, the chicken will release plenty of moisture while cooking in your crockpot. I wouldn't worry about leaving it while you return to work for the afternoon.


    Bookmark   July 15, 2013 at 12:36PM
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WalnutCreek Zone 7b/8a

Absolutely no need to add any liquid. The chicken will extrude a lot of liquid.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2013 at 12:49PM
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My favorite "go-to" recipes for the Crock-Pot both include chicken. One is simply to put the whole chicken in it (minus the gizzards etc), dump about a cup of water on it, and let it cook all day. We then serve with old-fashioned wide noodles (cooked in the chicken broth), and a vegie.

The other includes those chicken leg quarters that often come on sale. Put 4-6 of those in the Crock-Pot, take your favorite BBQ sauce and pour over it, and let it cook all day. Comes out like BBQ chicken.

A third recipe has nothing to do with chicken. :-) Take a ham hock, then cover it with the contents of one of those huge restaurant-sized can of cut green beans. Sprinkle with onion powder (or add a half onion, chopped up), and let cook all day. This is an old family recipe for green beans, though my MIL started by making those in a huge pot on the stove (before days of Crock-Pot).


    Bookmark   July 15, 2013 at 1:30PM
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Lars, I'll be interested to see how you like the results of crock pot cookery. I use mine a lot for heating up and keeping items like baked beans or sausage and pepper sandwich filling warm for a picnic or potluck. I have tried many recipes over the years for cooking from scratch in the crockpot but haven't liked the results. It seems to me as if the flavors leach out along with the moisture and they end up with a soggy texture.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2013 at 1:45PM
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Thanks for the responses - I will try cooking it without water, but I will use the onion, and I think I will add lemon juice and garlic. I'll let you know how it comes out. If I don't like it, then I can at least use it for beans, and since I cook beans a lot, that should be helpful. However, I have switched to cooking beans in the pressure cooker, and so I will have to decide which I think is more convenient. I haven't tried all my bean recipes in the pressure cooker yet. I think the crock pot may be better for Minestrone soup and the Cuban Black Bean soup that I make.


    Bookmark   July 15, 2013 at 3:19PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

I use mine to make stews and soup. I've also made a delish roast pork with cranberry. I have a small one I've used for rice pudding. And I make a chicken fricasee in mine which is tasty. Mom used to make polenta in it too.

I know you said no beef, but I have used mine for beef stew, kielbasa, and pot roast. Yum! We also use it for stuffed peppers and stuffed cabbage.

It is great for parties when you want a hot appetizer that people can help themselves to.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2013 at 4:32PM
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I never thought of serving a hot appetizer, here in Los Angeles, but I guess it could be appropriate for some occasion - I'm thinking miniature turkey meatballs or something like that. At least it will give me that option. My parties have always been primarily outdoors, although I do keep the appetizers in the dining room, which is easily accessible from the back yard through the patio doors. I have all kinds of grills for the hot food outdoors.

Good that you mentioned stuff cabbage - I make that with ground turkey, but it is a good option. I also like to make stuffed peppers using ground turkey. I would use beef if Kevin would eat it. It is generally better to substitute ground turkey for ground pork, however, flavorwise.

I think that I will also want to make oatmeal in it, although I will have to buy the right kind of oats. And I might try grits, since you mention polenta.

I can see now why people have them in more than one size.


    Bookmark   July 15, 2013 at 6:39PM
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Great deal! I have a crockpot and have used it once. I really need to start utilizing it more!

    Bookmark   July 15, 2013 at 10:22PM
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Ruthanna, I have to agree with you that the texture of the chicken came out a bit soggy, if that is the right description. I wonder if I left it in too long. When I tested the temperature, it was at least 10 degrees over what is needed to be done, and so I think I need to cook it a shorter time or with low heat instead of high. Next time I will use low heat, but Kevin was happy with it the way it was. It was not as good (to me) as poached chicken, which I simmer for one hour and then leave in the pot with the heat off for one more hour. For me, that makes a better texture, and the meat still falls off the bone - just not so quickly.

I think I will get a very good stock from this, but I will have to finish making that tomorrow. I do think there are plenty of other better ideas for using the crock pot, and I may be reluctant to cook chicken in it again, although it seems like it would be good for legs and wings. The thighs came out okay also, but the breast was too soft.


    Bookmark   July 16, 2013 at 1:12AM
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Crock-Pot "Baked" Chicken Pieces

Put several wads of foil in the bottom of the Crock Pot to raise the chicken pieces. Placed seasoned chicken pieces on top of the foil. Heat 1-hour on HIGH and 6-8-hours on LOW. (This chicken will be like baked chicken, not stewed in it's juices like most slow-cooker recipes.)

Crock\-Pot Boneless, Skinless BBQ Chicken 

4\-6 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts   
Bottled BBQ sauce (enough to cover well \- or about 1 small bottle)   
1/4 c. vinegar   
1 t. red pepper flakes   
1/4 c. brown sugar   
1/2\-1 t. garlic powder 

Mix sauce ingredients. Place chicken in crock pot. Pour sauce over chicken. Cook on LOW 4\-6\-hours.   

Slow-Cooker Fudge

2-1/2 c. chocolate chips
1/2 c. (canned) coconut milk
1/4 c. raw honey
pinch of salt
1 t. vanilla

Mix all the ingredients EXCEPT the vanilla in the cooker. Cook on low for 2-hours with the lid on without stirring and NO PEEKING. After 2 hours, turn off cooker, take off lid and add vanilla. Cool the fudge in the slow cooker until room temperature (or approximately 1-hour). Stir vigorously for 5-10 minutes until it loses some of the gloss. Pour into a 1-quart prepared dish (or pan). Cover and refrigerate 4-hours, or until firm.

Shredded Steak, Chicken or Pork 

(I made this last night using a short chunk of pork loin I had in the freezer \- about 22\-oz. I cut it in 1\-inch cubes while semi\-frozen.) 

Cube the type of meat you are going to use. Season with your favorite seasoning mixture. Cover with 1\-2 cans of Rotel Tomatoes (original), depending on how much meat you cook. One can of Rotel per pound of meat (more or less). 

Cook 8\-hours on LOW, or 4\-hours on HIGH. Remove meat and shred. 
    Bookmark   July 16, 2013 at 5:08AM
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Caramelizing onions. What a great idea. I just found a half bag hidden in the pantry after buying another bag. Out on the deck it goes, where i've been roasting coffee.

I don't use my crock-pots very often. Winter stews, chili, beans. I have two different ones at different homes and they have very different settings. One cooks way too hot on high so it is difficult to follow a recipe exact without experimenting a few times.
-My best success with chicken is to remove most of the skin, fill the bottom of the pot with lots of sliced onion, carrots, celery, garlic, and lay the chicken breast side down. I still prefer roasted in the oven. But thighs, skin removed, having marinated in a ginger/soy for a few hours, then placed over veg and topped with chopped tomatoes makes a wonderful sauce with rice or pasta....another winter favorite.
-I don't like the overnight 'unknown', or off-to-work cooking. We use it for an easy one-pot meal on a weekend when in and out of the house involved in outdoor projects. (once had to call a neighbor to check it when we were gone longer than planned).

    Bookmark   July 16, 2013 at 6:02AM
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WalnutCreek Zone 7b/8a

Here is a recipe for caramelizing onions in the crockpot from Jadeite.

I regularly caramelize onions in my crockpot. I slice enough onions to fill it, which is about 5 lbs or so. I get a bag from Costco and do the whole lot, sometimes in 2 batches. I add a stick of butter and turn it on. At the start the onions give off liquid so you get a soupy mix, but as the liquid is cooked off, you'll see the onions caramelize in their own sugars. I don't add anything, no sugar, no salt. I don't find it necessary but your taste may not be the same as mine. Once it's deeply caramelized (for me it takes most of a day), you can do whatever you like. We freeze in portions to be put on pizza, or eaten with tortillas, or added to soups, stews or sauces. I start on high and keep it there until most of the liquid is cooked off. Then I switch to low until the onions are just about done. If I'm not going to be around to keep an eye on it, I put it on low and let it go. Your slow cooker might not be as low powered as ours, so you should see how long it takes. It's really easy. Cheryl (jadeite@gardenweb)

    Bookmark   July 16, 2013 at 5:03PM
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The Rotel tomato recipe looks good to me, and I think I would add some achiote to it for a Yucatecan flavor. The fudge sounds good also. I still agree that roasted chicken tastes better, but there is definitely a convenience to the crock pot. At lunch today I put it back on with the stock that I started last night after the chicken was done. I did not want to cook it all night and have to deal with it in the morning, and so I will deal with it when I get home.

It does make the house smell good to have chicken in the pot.


    Bookmark   July 16, 2013 at 5:24PM
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The onions...amazing!. Caramelizing onions are always such 'babies' the usual way. Constant tending. I had 8 big reds. Only one was funk. I added a cup of rich stock that i always have in the freezer. Lots of garlic and a lemon i cut into 6 wedges. A chunk of ginger, half a habanero. On high for 6 hours, set it up out on the deck just out the kitchen door. Very creamy and just enough liquid for adding 'stink' cheese. A 1/4 of the wheel a friend gave me, made from his organic cow milk. It is a Munster. Tossed it with wide noodles topped with a healthy hand of chopped fresh basil over a bed of our first arugula crop. So good.
(removed the lemon wedges and ginger)

Have had such a tough time deciding how to use this cheese...

    Bookmark   July 17, 2013 at 2:35PM
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