Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Keep out the slow cooker
for these springtime recipes

You may be thinking of putting your slow cooker in storage after a long winter of use, but I’ve got a couple of recipes that will make you want to keep it out for some springtime meals.
    I chose both recipes because they required no advance cooking of the meat contained within the dish. That is one thing that irritates me greatly about many slow cooker recipes: The meat requires some type of browning.
    To me, that just defeats the purpose of a slow cooker, as it interferes with its primary attractive feature: Convenience.
    All I want to do is chuck a bunch of ingredients in and turn the thing on!
    That’s what you can do with these two slow cooker recipes, which are both very easy to make.

Slow-Cooker Five Spice Pork with Snap Peas (click for the recipe) is a crowd-pleasing recipe, with pork enhanced by a number of light ingredients including dry cherry, soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger and Chinese five-spice powder.
    The recipe calls for a boneless pork shoulder. Surprisingly, this isn’t always easy to find in the supermarket. Don’t worry if you can only find a pork shoulder with a bone, as the shoulder is not used whole in the recipe. The meat is cut into pieces before it’s placed in the slow cooker.
    Be sure to serve the pork over rice – jasmine is my recommendation.

Slow-Cooker Chicken Pho (click for the recipe) is a light and lovely soup of chicken, noodles and bok choy. Like the recipe above, it is flavored with all sorts of yummy ingredients: Brown sugar, fish sauce, star anise, whole cloves, fresh ginger, and a cinnamon stick.
    The bowl of each serving can be littered with toppings of one’s choice including bean sprouts, basil, mint, a Thai or serrano chile (we used a jalapeno) and lime juice, fresh squeezed from a wedge. We skipped the fresh cilantro, as we both despise the stuff!
    The recipe calls for “wide rice noodles,” which are also called vermicelli noodles. They can most often be found in the Asian section of the supermarket. However, we were unable to find wide noodles and so used thin rice noodles instead. They worked absolutely fine.