From the Chef ~ Easy Standards, Part II
Great any time of the year for “no fuss-no muss” ease and economy, the crock is a star just as the weather turns cold and the days get short. Prep your meal the night before, plug it in when the coffee percolates the next morn, and enjoy a hot and nutritious one-pot meal the moment you walk through the door (and if you get to stay home, enjoy a wonderful aroma all day long!) The combos are innumerable, but I start with a cut of meat—a humble cut at that, as slow cooking will render it tasty in time. These days I am tending toward pork, but beef and lamb are great as well. Then load up on any combo of fresh veggies, legumes, herbs, spices, sauces and condiments. You’ll be out just 10 minutes for a weeknight masterpiece—cozy, comfort food at the end of a cold day. With your leftovers at work, you’ll be re-fortified and the envy of every co-worker.
For tonight’s 10-minute masterpiece, I chose a 2 lbs. roast of better-than-average pork shoulder butt from Whole Food. I trimmed off excess fat and cut into large chunks and set aside. Next, I layered the crock pot from bottom to top, first with firmer ingredients (chunks of potatoes and carrots) and then softer ingredients (chunks of celery, onion, poblano peppers—so good with pork—and a can of precooked beans with the liquid drained off). Salt and pepper everything. My herb for this batch will be bay leaf, one of my favorite aromas in the plant kingdom. I prefer fresh, but dried would have to do this time. I added bay leaves at various junctures so as to completely infuse the dish with its aroma. Over goes some tomato paste diluted with a good-sized dose of red wine. Plug in and you’re done. Just return 8-10 hours later and enjoy with hardy bread, a green salad, and maybe some cheddar on the side.