Take It Slow


It’s officially Fall and time to pull out mittens and scarves. The time has changed and I find myself in a funky mood about it already. All I want to do is hibernate. I want yummy food without a lot of hassle making it. I want to sit around sulking about the darkness eating big-flavored food with silky textures.

Ah ha!!! Bring out the slow-cooker!

Here are three recipes guaranteed to scratch the itch for easily-made, big flavored, meaty, silk-textured food.

Bon appetit!

PictureSlow-Cooked Carnitas Tacos

2 lbs boneless country-style pork ribs or pork shoulder cut into 1.5-inch pieces
2 tsp salt
2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 large onion, cut into 4 pieces
1 avocado, halved, pitted, sliced
Corn tortillas
Salsa of choice

Place pork in bowl of slow cooker with salt, pepper, and dried oregano to coat. Place onion slices on top of pork. Cover slow cooker and cook pork on low setting until the meat is very tender and falling apart, ~6 hours.

With a slotted spoon, transfer pork to cutting board. Discard onion pieces. Using fingers or forks, shred pork; transfer carnitas to platter.  Place avocado slices and cilantro sprigs alongside. Wrap corn tortillas in damp kitchen towel; microwave until warm, ~1 minute. Serve carnitas with warm tortillas and salsa.


Slow-Cooked Korean Beef Stew with Napa Cabbage and Pickles
Recipe by Marcia Kiesel
6 servings

1 Tbsp vegetable oil
3 lbs trimmed beef chuck, cut into 3-inch pieces
salt and black pepper
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 quart beef stock or low-sodium broth
2 medium red onions, quartered
6 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 large jalapenos, halved, seeded and sliced
2 cups mung bean sprouts
1 Tbsp corn starch
4 cups coarsely chopped Napa cabbage
1/2 cup thinly sliced sour pickles

Steamed short grain rice, toasted sesame oil, 3 thinly sliced scallions

In a very large skillet, heat oil. Season the meat with salt and pepper and sear the pieces over med-hi heat until richly browned all over. Transfer the meat to a large slow cooker, turn it to high and cover.

Wipe out the skillet and return it to the burner. Add the soy sauce, sugar, wine, and stock and bring to a boil.  Pour the mixture into the slow cooker. Add the onions to the slow cooker, cover and cook on high for 2 hours. Add the garlic and jalapeños to the stew, cover and cook for 1 hour longer, until the meat is very tender.

Meanwhile, bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Add the bean sprouts and blanch for 30 seconds; drain. Put the cornstarch in a bowl and whisk in 1/2 cup of the liquid from the cooker.

With a slotted spoon, pick out and discard the onions. Transfer the meat to a large bowl. Whisk the cornstarch mixture, then whisk it into the stew, cover and let simmer for 2 minutes. With 2 forks, very coarsely shred the meat. Return the meat to the cooker. Add the Napa cabbage and pickles to the cooker, cover and cook until the cabbage is just wilted, about 5 minutes. Turn the cooker off.

Spoon steamed rice into bowls. Ladle the stew over and around the rice. Top with the beans sprouts, a drizzle of sesame oil and the sliced scallions and serve.

Make Ahead: The recipe can be prepared through the first paragraph and refrigerated overnight. Bring to room temperature and reheat gently.

PictureFor those of us who haven’t successfully made a cheesecake, you’ve gotta try this! It’s flawless because the cake steams in the slow cooker, making the cheese super smooth and silky.

Slow-Cooked Sour Cream Cheesecake
Recipe by Beth Hensperger
6 servings

3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
2.5 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp sugar
12 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
1 tsp pure almond extract
1 cup sour cream


In a medium bowl, mix the graham cracker crumbs with the melted butter, cinnamon, 1 tablespoon of the sugar and a pinch of salt. Press the crumbs over the bottom and 1 inch up the side of a 6-inch spring form pan that’s 3 inches deep.

In a standing mixer fitted with a paddle, combine the cream cheese with the flour, the remaining 2/3 cup of sugar and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Beat at medium-high speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the eggs and the almond extract. Beat at medium speed until blended. Add the sour cream and beat until smooth. Pour the batter into the spring form pan.

Fill a 6- to 7-quart round or oval slow cooker with 1/2 inch of water and position a rack in the bottom. Set the cheesecake on the rack. Cover the slow cooker with a triple layer of paper towels and the lid. Turn the cooker to high and cook for 2 hours without peeking. Turn off the heat and let stand until the slow cooker has cooled, 1 hour.

Remove the lid and the paper towels and transfer the cheesecake to a rack to cool to room temperature, about 1 hour. Cover the cheesecake with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours.

Heat a sharp, thin-bladed knife under hot water; dry the knife. Carefully run the knife around the edge of the cheesecake. Release the spring and lift the cheesecake out of the mold. Cut into wedges and serve.

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