My friend recently asked why I bought the new 6-quart slow cooker when I already had the 4-quart model and typically cook for just two people. Here’s my answer.
One of my Hasty Tasty Meals strategies is cooking ahead, and slow cooking allows you to maximize your cooking with little fuss. A larger pot is roomy enough to hold several different foods.
My favorite cook-ahead meal is a chicken. If my pan is large enough, I can start with enough potatoes to make two days’ worth of potatoes. I can cook carrots with the potatoes, giving me two side dishes for two meals. Finally, the chicken flavors and moistens the root vegetables. How efficient. The six-quart size produces a minimum of eight servings of each food.
First, I peel 4 potatoes (Peeling is optional–these russets had tough peels, but I scrub and leave the peels when possible) and cut into uniform pieces, approximately 1″. These go on the pan’s bottom. I top with sliced carrots or, because they were on sale this week, baby-cut carrots. Next, I form a rack for the chicken from two celery ribs and a large onion, quartered.
Season the chicken thoroughly. I use a rub made with 1 Tbsp. olive oil, 1 tsp. Kosher salt, ½ tsp. freshly ground pepper, 1 tsp. dried thyme, ½ tsp. dried sage, and 1 Tbsp. paprika. Place the chicken so it rests on the vegetables.
Cover and cook on High for 4 – 5 hours. That’s it. Just ten minutes of prep and you’re free to run errands or do other chores. If it makes you nervous to use a dry pot, add a cup of water or broth. I don’t. The chicken and vegetables produce enough liquid to make a pan gravy before serving if you desire. (Remove the chicken and vegetables from the pan. Then whisk in 1 Tbsp. corn starch dissolved in ½ cup cooled broth or water. Boil to thicken and season to taste.)
If serving the same meal twice in one week doesn’t appeal to you, switch it up with other vegetables. For instance, I added a side of broccoli one day and green beans the other. I served biscuits once and dinner rolls once. I whipped half the potatoes, and stirred half in with the green beans. Finally, I didn’t serve the chicken meals consecutive days, although we aren’t averse to chicken two days in a row.
Don’t limit your slow-cooking to beef roasts or stews. Try cooking ahead a mix of foods. You won’t feel like you’re eating leftovers, and you’ll spend less time in the kitchen. Enjoy the food and extra time.