Slow Cooker Commandments from Martha Stewart
In her book, Martha Stewart’s Slow Cooker, the Grand Dame of homemaking elevates slow cooking to special occasion-worthy. The secret is putting in a little more fuss and muss – or prep and panache as Stewart says.
Tips from Stewart’s “Slow Cooker Commandments” include:
- Saute vegetables before adding to cooker to bring out caramelized flavour.
- Brown meat before adding to cooker to seal in moisture for tender results.
- Add only enough liquid to reach but not cover ingredients.
- Use the freshest spices and herbs and avoid packaged seasoning.
- Finish dishes with fresh garnish including herbs – and lemon in the case of fish.
And don’t be afraid to – and, in fact, do – lift the lid on occasion to keep an eye on things and give a stir if necessary. It’s a good thing – Martha says so.
Here, recipes that are sure to be a crowd-pleaser!
Poached Salmon with Salsa Verde
Serves 4 to 6
The slow cooker’s value has as much to do with what it doesn’t do as with what it does. In the case of fish, that means not overcooking it. It’s a comfort to know you can poach a whole fillet without the risk of drying it out.
1½ cups dry white wine
1½ cups water
1 shallot, halved
2 thyme sprigs
1 large dried bay leaf
1 garlic clove, smashed and peeled
2 inner celery stalks, with leaves
2 lemon slices, plus wedges for serving
6 black peppercorns
2 lb skin-on salmon, preferably wild
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
Salsa Verde (recipe below)
Preheat a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker.
Place wine, water, shallot, thyme, bay leaf, garlic, celery, carrot, lemon and peppercorns in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 30 minutes (or on low for 1 hour).
Check for pin bones in the salmon by running your fingers over the fillets; remove any stray bones with tweezers. Season salmon with salt and pepper, and transfer to slow cooker with poaching liquid. Cover and cook on low until salmon is opaque and flakes easily with a fork, about 1 hour (we prefer the texture of the fish when cooked on low rather than high). For more well-done salmon, continue checking every 15 minutes until fish reaches desired doneness. (Salmon is well done when an instant-read thermometer placed in the thickest part of the fillet reads 145°F.) Serve warm or at room temperature with Salsa Verde.
Salsa Verde: In a food processor or blender, pulse 2 cups fresh cilantro leaves, 1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, 1 large garlic clove, ½ teaspoon coarse salt, and ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper until smooth. Serve immediately.
When cooked, the salmon will be delicate. Line the slow cooker with parchment paper large enough to extend over the top of the pot for easy removal.
This may just become your new favourite breakfast, since the oats cook to the ideal texture while you sleep. They also take well to any number of toppings, savory or sweet. Swirl Greek yogurt into the oats, top with roasted apricots and golden raisins; then drizzle with maple syrup. For savory oatmeal, omit the vanilla bean and sugar.
1 cup steel-cut oats
4½ cups boiling water
¼ cup packed light brown or raw sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped
1/8 tsp coarse salt
Roasted Apricots (recipe below)
Maple syrup, yogurt, and golden raisins (optional), for serving
Preheat a 5-to 6-quart slow cooker.
Combine oats, boiling water, sugar, vanilla bean and seeds, and salt in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours (or on high for 4 hours). Remove and discard vanilla bean before serving.
Roasted Apricots: Preheat oven to 350°F. In a roasting dish, place 8 halved pitted apricots with 4 tbsp unsalted butter, ¼ cup raw sugar, and 1 tsp Grand Marnier. Roast until apricots are tender, about 30 minutes.
Instead of cooking the oats in water, you can use a mixture of half milk and half water, or a cow’s-milk alternative such as almond or coconut milk.
Sticky Toffee Pudding
Serves 6 to 8
Sweet dreams are truly made of this – our kitchen team’s favorite slow-cooker dessert. Using a water bath (or bain-marie) produces the dreamiest texture – not too dense and not too light. Don’t skimp on the toffee-sauce-and-pecan finish. If your slow cooker cannot accommodate a soufflé dish, try baking this in ramekins.
4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted, plus more for dish
2 rounded tsp instant espresso
1 cup boiling water, plus more for slow cooker
8 oz Medjool dates, pitted and finely chopped (about 1½ cups)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
¾ cup packed dark brown sugar
½ cup heavy cream
1/3 to ½ cup toasted chopped pecans
Make pudding: Butter a 2½-quart soufflé dish. In a small bowl, dissolve espresso in 1 cup boiling water. Add dates and let soak 15 minutes. Stir in baking soda and vanilla.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. In another bowl, whisk brown sugar, melted butter and eggs. Whisk sugar mixture into flour mixture until well combined. Fold in date mixture until just combined.
Pour batter into prepared dish, cover with parchment, then cover tightly with aluminum foil. Place dish in a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker. Pour enough boiling water to reach three-quarters up the sides of soufflé dish. Cover and cook on high until cake is set and a tester inserted in center comes out clean, about 2 hours (or on low for 4 hours). Transfer dish to a wire rack to cool slightly.
Make sauce: In a saucepan over low, heat butter, brown sugar and cream until butter is melted. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring, until sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, 3 to 4 minutes.
Poke holes in cake with a skewer and pour half the toffee sauce over cake. Let cake absorb some sauce. Spread sauce around evenly to soak into cake. Stir pecans into remaining sauce and serve on the side. Cake is best served warm.
Reprinted from Martha Stewart’s Slow Cooker. Copyright © 2017 by Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Photographs copyright © 2017 by Stephen Kent Johnson