I have a burning question tonight. Do you cook with good wine or do you save the good wine for drinking and cook with the cheap stuff? I'm genuinely interested in hearing your opinions about cooking wine. 🍷 This is what my brain dwells on - food and wine.
There are professional chefs that swear that your finished dish will only be as good as the individual ingredients that you add. I can only assume that they believe that inferior wine will result in a less than superb product. Can a cup of two buck Chuck really ruin a good batch of meaty marinara or Coq au Vin? I really don't know and before I mess up a perfectly fine batch of short ribs, I need to find out.
Maybe the answer isn't as black and white as I'm trying to make it. Perhaps there are some recipes where expensive wine is necessary and others where boxed wine would suffice. White wine used as an ingredient in the sauce over fresh mussels might require a higher quality wine than the red wine in beef stew, for example. As for me, I use whatever wine I happen to have open on the day that I need it for a recipe. I'm somewhat embarrassed to admit it, but I've even been known to swap a white for a red in a recipe if I"m trying to use up the last few drops in a wine bottle. 🤷🏻♀️
This recipe for Pork Ragu only calls for 1/2 cup of red wine which seems like an insignificant amount but it plays a really crucial role in how all the flavors of this dish come together. The pork, the tomatoes, the pancetta, the wine and the herbs all have to marry together in perfect harmony to create a tasty dish. Altering just one of the ingredients can throw off the whole balance of flavors and really lead to a displeasing result. So do I roll the dice and take a gamble on a cheap wine or go all out and use a full bodied red wine?
Slow Cooker Pork Ragu
2 pounds boneless pork butt, cut into 1/2" cubes
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon pepper
28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
4 ounces pancetta, diced
1 onion, chopped fine
2 carrots, diced
1/2 cup red wine
1/4 cup olive oil
6 sprigs fresh thyme
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 pound cooked pasta
Stir in parsley. Toss with pasta and top with parmesan cheese.
I know that you're all waiting with baited breath to find out exactly what type of wine I used in my Pork Ragu. 😂 It was a half cup of my dad's homemade red wine. I'm 60% sure that it was a cabernet but to be honest, the sharpie markings that my dad uses to identify his different wines had been rubbed off the neck of the bottle. Soooo - whatever it was - it was good. Both in the ragu and in my wine glass. 🍷
It's supposed to be cold and rainy here all weekend. (Hello, crock pot dinner and football games!) I love my slow cooker but I don't use it nearly as much as I think I should. It would certainly save me valuable time doing dinner prep but I just don't pull it out of the cabinet very often. Part of the reason that I don't use it very often is that when I think slow cooker - I think pot roast and potatoes and pork shoulder. And that's not really my jam. 😂
This Chicken and Corn Chowder recipe was a great reminder that crock pots are good for more than just roasts. 🥣 Fall is soup season and this is the perfect transition from salads to hearty, warm winter soups. I scooped out my bowl of soup before adding the cream to save on calories but the rest of my family loved the rich, creamy Chicken and Corn chowder recipe as written.
Whether you've got a football game to watch this weekend, a yard full of leaves to rake or just a weekend of relaxing on the couch, this recipe is perfect. It comes together quickly and you can just sit back and enjoy the amazing aroma of chowder while it simmers in the slow cooker all afternoon. The hardest part of this whole recipe was NOT lifting the lid on the crock pot every hour to take in the amazing aroma.
There's nothing better than having a meal ready to eat at 6:00 without last minute prep work. I'll admit that it still feels strange to prep dinner at 10:00 AM but I'm determined to get in the habit of using my slow cooker more so I better get used to it. Believe it or not, I managed to get this chowder in the crock pot while I was simultaneously making french toast and scrambled eggs for breakfast. (It's actually kind of amazing that we didn't end up with celery in our eggs.) Whatever works.
Slow Cooker Chicken and Corn Chowder
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 pounds yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1/2" pieces
2 slices pancetta, diced
1/4 cup minced celery
1 shallot, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 bay leaf
3 cups frozen corn
3 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup heavy cream (optional)
3 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Season with salt and pepper. Serve with fresh parsley.
If you like a creamier chowder - stir cream into chowder.
Check out all of my other slow cooker recipes using the categories side bar on my blog. There are awesome recipes like Mediterranean Chicken and Farro and Acorn Squash. If you've got a great recipe that you make in your slow cooker - I'd love for you to share it with me. I love new recipes.
Anyone else have seasonal kitchen appliances? Appliances that only get used during specific times of year? My smoothie blender and ice cream makers, for example, make their way out of the cabinet and onto the counter exclusively during the summer months. I don't pull out my slow cooker and waffle maker until the temperatures dip below 60 degrees.
Even though I've don't test this theory, I suspect that my slow cooker works just as well from March through August as it does in the cooler months of the year. I don't intentionally neglect it in the Spring and Summer, I guess just more dependent on my grill when the weather is warm. I'm not sure why though because every time I use my slow cooker I wonder why I don't use it more often.
Slow cookers are such a great time saver when it comes to dinner prep time. It's also a great way to make super juicy, tender and flavorful chicken. I'll admit that it still feels a little weird to start prepping dinner at 10 AM but when I pull a completely cooked meal out of the slow cooker at 5:00, I'm so glad that I invested a few minutes of my time early in the day.
Slow Cooker Lemon Chicken
8 bone in chicken thighs
1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon oregano
1 garlic clove, minced
10 sprigs fresh thyme
2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
Discard thyme. Stir parsley and lemon zest into sauce. Pour over chicken to serve.
Most of our dinners are anything but fancy or elegant. Side dishes are simple and vegetables are quick and easy. I never want to over complicate a slow cooker meal by pairing it with time consuming accompaniments. Lemon chicken, brown rice, broccoli and a fruit salad dessert - that's it. That's really all we need. I hope that you enjoy this recipe as much as we did.
Great things never come from our comfort zone. Do you agree?
I'm the kind of girl who likes to live with familiar and comfortable routines. Don't we all really? I prefer a predictable and reliable lifestyle. Why mess with a good thing? But great things usually happen when I'm OUTSIDE my comfort zone and not living my comfortable and predictable life.
Travel is one of the best ways that I've found for me to stretch my boundaries and get outside my comfort zone. I get accustomed to viewing the world from my own front door. My little circle of existence gets very small when I spend too much time without leaving it. It doesn't take a long or expensive vacation to broaden my perspective and get me out of my comfort zone though. A day trip to the mountains, a hike through the forest or an afternoon spent on the lake can really reset my navigational beacon. It's not in my normal routine to do any of those things but they really are great ways to expand comfort zone.
I also have a cooking comfort zone but today I'm going to challenge myself to get just a little bit out of my culinary comfort zone. Adding a new grain or a new kind of olive into my diet can be just the thing that I need to break myself out of my comfort zone cooking. Pulling out the slow cooker, picking up some farro and Castelvetrano olives and putting together this uber-tasty chicken dinner for tonight. Great things happen when I break out of comfort zone cooking.
Mediterranean Chicken and Farro
2 Tablespoons oil
4 split chicken breasts
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup uncooked farro
1/2 cup chopped onion
10 pitted Castelvetrano olives, sliced
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 cup toasted almonds, chopped
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 glove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Garnish with additional parsley.
The beige pictures of this chicken dish don't really do it justice. The briney olives, the bright lemon zest, the crunchy almonds, the spicy red pepper and the fresh parsley all work together beautifully to create a dish that is absolutely bursting with flavor. I love the way that the farro perfectly compliments the chicken and visa versa. And the fact that you can toss it all in your slow cooker and walk away for 8 hours is just an added bonus.
I think that all of the busyness of the Christmas season has caught up with me. I was so busy with birthday preparations, getting the house decorated and catering orders that I only managed to fix dinner - 1 day last week! I share that somewhat embarrassing confession with you just to let you know that we ALL get overwhelmed and overloaded during the holidays - especially food bloggers.
Don't worry about my dietary requirements though - we managed to survive on a smoked chicken that I picked up from our favorite BBQ restaurant and a batch of vegetarian chili from the freezer.
This week - I'm determined to do better about getting home cooked meals on the table. Hello trusty slow cooker.
Ben and I both like pulled pork but it doesn't ever seem practical to make an entire pork shoulder for just two people. As luck would have it - I found a boneless pork shoulder that was a little over a pound at my local meat market last week. That is the perfect size for the two of us - with leftovers for lunch the next day.
Finding a pork shoulder made for two was the perfect excuse to try out my new recipe for Slow Cooker Pork with Peach Barbecue Sauce. I put the pork in the slow cooker before we left for church on Sunday morning and it made a delicious dinner.
Slow Cooker Pork with Peach Barbecue Sauce
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon pepper
3 1/2 pound pork shoulder
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup molasses
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 cup peach preserves
2 cups sliced red onion
5 garlic cloves, sliced
1/4 cup bourbon
2 Tablespoons cold water
2 teaspoons cornstarch
Drizzle sauce over pork and onions.
I was really frustrated with myself over this meal because I drastically overcooked the pork. I cooked my 1.5 pound boneless pork shoulder for 6 hours - big mistake. I adjusted the recipe to say 4 hours but that is really just my best guess at this point. The flavor of the meat was really good and I will definitely try this recipe again - with a shorter cooking time.
Like my page on facebook.
Follow me on Instagram