In her new 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:

  1. Saute vegetables before adding to cooker to bring out carmelized flavour.
  2. Brown meat before adding to cooker to seal in moisture for tender results.
  3. Add only enough liquid to reach but not cover ingredients.
  4. Use the freshest spices and herbs and avoid packaged seasoning.
  5. 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.

 

Try the following recipes, sure to impress this holiday season.

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
1 carrot
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.

Tip
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.

Next, Overnight Oatmeal.

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