Sunday, January 30, 2011

Learning to simmer down thanks to slow cooker

Slow cooking is an exercise in patience for yours truly.

I have, on numerous occasions, ended up with a runny sauce, crunchy pasta and casseroles with lukewarm centers because I am an impatient cook. I am so eager to reap the rewards of time spent in the kitchen that I don’t always spend enough time in front of the stove.

I’m learning to be patient thanks to my Crock-Pot. It’s nothing fancy, a gently used model my mom had stashed away in the garage, but it gets the job done. I’m getting better at plugging it in, filling the pot and leaving its contents to simmer for six to eight hours. I even trust the pot enough to leave it on overnight.

My slow cooker has a 3.5-quart capacity, which yields plenty of food for the two of us, which includes leftovers. There have been a couple times when I’ve scaled recipes back because they’re meant for bigger pots, but no disasters yet.

The following recipe comes from one of two slow-cooking books I picked up at the library the other day. The author’s original recipe called for a 4-quart pot, and I did scale things back slightly by using a smaller package of spinach. The original recipe called for ground beef, which we don’t really eat at home, and white converted rice, but I wanted to give brown converted rice a try instead. I also opted to omit the scallions and add minced onions and Italian seasoning. Next time I’ll probably also add a teaspoon of red pepper flakes for a little kick.

This is one of the speedier slow-cooker recipes I’ve come across. This dish would be just as easy to cook on the stove top in a quarter of the time, but where’s the working-on-my-patience fun in that?

Turkey with Spinach and Rice
Adapted from Slow & Easy by Natalie Haughton
1 pound ground turkey
1 package (10-ounce) frozen chopped spinach, thawed but not drained
2 14-ounce cans diced tomatoes with basil
2 garlic cloves, minced
¾ cup converted brown rice
1 teaspoon dried minced onions
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper, to taste
Grated Parmesan, for garnish

Cook the ground turkey in a frying pan over medium-high heat until brown. Remove from heat and drain off any excess fat.

Place ground turkey, spinach, tomatoes, garlic, rice, onions and Italian seasoning in electric slow cooker. Give a quick stir to mix ingredients.

Cover and cook on the high-heat setting for two hours, until the rice is tender. Sprinkle cheese on top and serve.

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