Saturday, July 16, 2011

Weekend Cooking - Slow Cooker Revolution

Slow Cooker Revolution by The Editors at America's Test Kitchen

I love to watch America's Test Kitchen on my local PBS station. I have had many light bulb moments on how to fix many of my kitchen disasters by watching the program. When I saw that America's Test Kitchen had published a Slow Cooker cookbook, I knew I wanted to check it out. I love using my slow cooker but sometimes the end result doesn't turn out all that great. I do use the slow cooker every week regardless as it a huge time saver in a busy household like ours.

When I first received my cookbook I noticed that these were not the type of slow cooker recipes you can just dump in the slow cooker, plug in, hit the switch and be done. I must admit that I was disappointed. I am all about quick and easy when it comes to cooking. I decided to read on in the cookbook. Each recipe includes explanations on why they took the extra steps such as browning meats or veggies before adding them to the slow cooker. There is a paragraph before each recipe on Why This Recipe Works. For the first time in my slow cooker life I knew why some of my recipes did not turn out so well.

The first recipe I tried was Southern-Style Chicken and Dirty Rice. Rice and pasta in the slow cooker have been huge disasters for me in the past. I was skeptical at best. I read the explanation on using instant rice versus long grain rice in the slow cooker and moved forward making the recipe. I followed the recipe and found it really wasn't all that difficult. Sauces in the slow cooker have always turned out too watery for me but this recipe had me start the sauce in the skillet before hand along with the browning of the sausage and vegetables and it turned out perfect! I did double the recipe for my family of 5 large eaters.

I was very happy with end result! The extra steps made all the difference in the world! So much so that I would highly recommend this cookbook to those who really dislike slow cooker food. Yes, the recipes are a bit more work than your average dump and cook recipes. The helpful tips and explanations will help make your slow cooker cooking experience so much better in the long run. I can't wait to try more of the recipes in the cookbook.

It doesn't look very appetizing in this picture but let me tell you this was divine! The smells of it cooking all day had us all wanting dinnertime to arrive quickly. It was very mouth-watering! A salad and a piece of cornbread and you have a wonderful meal.

Even my oldest, who is one of my three picky eaters said it was very good and had two helpings. My daughter ate some of the leftovers for lunch the next day and said it was even better the next day. The best part was no gummy rice!

This is the recipe from Slow Cooker Revolution

Southern-Style Chicken and Dirty Rice

serves 6 to 8 Cooking Time 4 to 6 hours on low

1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
8 ounces of kielbasa sausage, cut in 1/2 inch pieces
1 onion, minced
2 celery ribs, minced
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups of low-sodium chicken broth
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed
Salt and pepper
2 cups instant rice
2 scallions, sliced thin (these I omitted because I forgot to buy them at the store)

1. Heat oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Brown sausage well, about 3 minutes. Add onion, celery, bell pepper, garlic, thyme,chili powder, and cayenne and cook until vegetables are softened and lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in broth, scraping up any brown bits and smoothing out any lumps; transfer to slow cooker.

2. Season chicken with salt and pepper, add to slow cooker and coat evenly with sauce. Cover and cook until chicken is tender, 4 to 6 hours on low.

3. Break up chicken into bite-size pieces using wooden spoon. Stir in rice and 1 teaspoon of salt, cover, and cook on high until rice is tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Sprinkle with scallions and serve. (unless of course you forget to buy the scallions)

I purchased this book for myself after reading so many fantastic reviews for it on other blogs. Bloggers do sell books!

Weekend Cooking is a weekly meme sponsored by Beth Fish Reads.
Weekend Cooking is a chance to share the food love. Be sure to check out all the yummy cooking posts on Beth's blog.


  1. Great post! I love using my slow cooker. This recipe sounds yummy.

  2. I agree - these recipes are more work than the average slow cooker recipes, but they're worth the effort.

  3. This book has been on my radar for a while and I'm glad to read of your experience. The chicken dish sounds delicious.

  4. I am always looking for good slow cooker recipes!

  5. So glad this worked for you! Sometimes it really is worth a little more effort to get a better-tasting result!

  6. Love chicken and love dirty rice, but never made that way. I always use yellow rice. I'll have to try it this way.

    I love my slow cooker, it's my favorite kitchen appliance along with my George Foreman Grill.

    I'm going to look for this cookbook!
    Here's My WC

  7. I just used my slow cooker last night ( a rolled turkey breast roast) and, like you, I usually use it at least once a week.

    My slow cooker has the stoneware insert that can be used on the stovetop and that makes the pre-browning or sauteeing that much easier.

  8. I love this cookbook and perhaps I was one of the ones you read that recommended it.

    Of course, I am a total ATK groupie!

  9. any chance we can get a vlog to accompany your cooking??

    I need to eat now :)

  10. I love slow cookers, and I've always done some of the extras beforehand (browning the meats, getting a roux together to thicken up sauces). I love this review, and, like you, will likely be picking this one up from the bookstore, as everyone seems to really like it and the recipes!

  11. I too bought this cookbook after a ton of great recommendations. Everyone loves it.

  12. This sounds like a great cookbook. I try to make as much of our dinners during the summer in the crockpot.

  13. I love my slow cooker and love trying out new recipes (even if they are a bit more work).

    Thanks for the great review!

  14. I don't know what I'd do without my slow cooker. That recipe looks good too! I can just about smell it if I close my eyes :o)

  15. Sorry to be visiting glad to read your review of this cookbook as I have been tempted to buy it a few times and couldn't justify it. Now that I know it will really help men make more tasty slow cooker meals, I'm going to get it

  16. I may have to give this one a try. I love my slow cooker.


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