February 16, 2012 at 12:10 pm
by Jennifer Moncayo
During yesterday’s Slow Cooker Chat on our Facebook wall, we had a special guest—Michele Scicolone, author of “The Italian Slow Cooker” and “The French Slow Cooker.” Michele, along with our associate food editor Michael Tyrrell, answered all your crock-pot questions, from how to properly cook rice to easy slow cooker meals that can be made in one hour! If you missed the lively conversation, here’s what happened:
Welcome to our weekly Slow Cooker Chat with associate food editor and slow cooking expert, Michael Tyrrell. He’s here to answer all of your slow cooker questions, share recipes and give great tips. Plus, today we have a special guest, cookbook author and teacher Michele Scicolone, author of “The Italian Slow Cooker” and “The French Slow Cooker,” who is also here to answer your questions. Let’s start with: What did everyone make this weekend?
Margarita: I would love a low-fat yet yummy recipe for chicken cacciatore for the slow cooker.
Michael Tyrrell: Michele has a great pork rib recipe in the March issue of Family Circle that could easily be adapted.
Michele Scicolone: I have a good recipe for chicken cacciatore in my book “The Italian Slow Cooker.” The secret to making it low fat is to remove the chicken skin before you cook it.
Family Circle: Hi Margarita, here is the link to Michele Scicolone’s book “The Italian Slow Cooker” for the chicken cacciatore recipe she mentioned.
Michael: Margarita—I am familiar with the recipe Michele mentioned. Delish!
Family Circle: Hey Margarita, here are some additional chicken recipes for the slow cooker if you’re looking for some ideas.
Margarita: Gracias for the recipe!
Mona: Love slow cooker recipes!!!
Mona: Homemade white chicken, Swanson Chicken Noodle Soup and homemade chili with red hot peppers-powder! Both yummy with biscuits!
Michael: Mona—what cut of chicken do you use and when do your noodles go into the slow cooker?
Kristin: Looking for something healthy and low sodium.
Michael: Kristin—let us give you a link to some of our healthy slow cooker recipes.
Family Circle: Hi Kristin, here’s the link to healthy slow cooker recipes from Family Circle.
Beva: My hubba loves ribs in the crock-pot. What’s your favorite thing to make?
Michael: Beva—check out Michele’s pork ribs hunter’s style I mentioned above. It’s in “The French Slow Cooker,” Michele’s latest book.
Family Circle: Hi Beva, here’s a link to Michele Scicolone’s book with the pork rib recipe.
Diane: Love the idea of slow cooker cooking while I am at work. Unfortunately, most of the recipes look like they need 6 1/2 hours or so and I am gone more like 9 to 10 hours. What can I cook that is forgiving besides soups?
Amy: I too am posing the same question that Diane has above.
Michele Scicolone: Have you thought about cooking the food on the weekends, Diane? Then you can refrigerate it and reheat it in minutes when you get home.
Michael: Michele — cooking ahead for the week is always a great idea.
Michael: Diane — pot roasts and stews made with chuck can handle the longer cooking times. Let us link you to a story we did, “Pot Roast 5 Ways.”
Family Circle: Hi Diane, here’s the link to the pot roast recipes.
Michael: Amy — another meat that can handle longer cooking times is pork shoulder.
Michele Scicolone: Pork shoulder is ideal for extended cooking. I have a recipe in the Italian Slow Cooker for a pork shoulder ragu that is great with pasta.
Family Circle: Hi Amy, here are some Family Circle recipes for pork shoulder.
Diane: Thanks. I do most of my cooking on the weekends and reheat during the week for lunches and dinners. Just want something freshly cooked and love the slow cooker for that. I also extend the cooking time by having all the ingredients in the freezer, and tossing them in the slow cooker before I leave.
Michael: Diane — I have to be honest, we never recommend adding frozen stuff to the slow cooker. The food stays at an unsafe temp too long.
Michele Scicolone: I agree with you Michael, especially for meats and poultry.
Diane: Good point.
Louis: I have a question for Michele Scicolone: What is the one dish everyone should make in their slow cooker?
Michele Scicolone: I wanted to add that I love the Sausages and Sauerkraut recipe in “The French Slow Cooker.” It’s easy and everybody loves it.
Michael: I also would like to know from Michele a fave she makes during the week that’s real quick to put together, regardless of cooking time.
Michele Scicolone: When I’m in a hurry, Michael, I like to do what I call “fast slow cooking.” I’ll take some thick salmon or other fish steaks, put them in the pot with some vegetables and seasonings, and sit down to a great meal with perfectly cooked fish in about an hour.
Michael: Michele—that’s a great tip in regards to fish and seafood, they really can’t handle long cooking times. And your fish dinner is a one pot dinner!
Michele Scicolone: Another fast/slow dish I like is a crustless quiche. It is quick and easy and great for brunch or dinner. Just be sure to grease the crock well.
Margarita: I would love the crustless quiche recipe. The reason I love the crock-pot besides the convenience is that I can make a healthy low-fat meal that everyone will love.
Michael: Margarita—the quiche is in “The French Slow Cooker” and our March issue.
Family Circle: Hi Margarita, here’s the link to Michele Scicolone’s book with the quiche recipe.
Margarita: I made pork carnitas yesterday for dinner in my crock-pot and they turned out super yummy!
Michael: Margarita—let us link you to our Momster blog for a drunken carnitas one of our web editors posted a while ago. It was a hit!
Michele Scicolone: I want the link to that recipe, too, Michael!
Family Circle: Hi Margarita, here’s the recipe for drunken pork carnitas that our web editor tried.
Margarita: Drunken carnitas sound delish, thanks!
Margarita: I use my slow cooker at least once a week if not longer. Diane—if a recipe says it is going to take 6 hours I reduce that by an hour or more and then just let it finish cooking on warm, works every time!
Michael: Margarita—I agree, many slow cooker recipes can cook for less than the recipe says. Just check to be sure the product is at a safe temperature.
Michele Scicolone: I always recommend that when you try out a new recipe or a new slow cooker, that you try to be around to keep an eye on things near the end of the cooking time. Cookers can vary from one manufacturer to another.
Michael: Michele makes an excellent point about getting to know your slow cooker. Sort of what you have to do with your oven or even an outdoor grill.
Louis: We love both “The French Slow Cooker” and “The Italian Slow Cooker” in my house! Any more slow cooker focused books that we can look forward to?
Michele Scicolone: Thanks, Louis! Yes I am working on another one, but that won’t be out for a while yet.
Louis: Something to look forward to!
Sheri: I made slow cooker chicken noodle soup (with frozen mixed veggies) and added some chickpeas. I’d love to try something other than the typical corn, peas, carrots—what do you suggest?
Michael: Sheri—in our March issue we excerpted some of Michele’s recipes from “The French Slow Cooker.” One was a Provencal vegetable soup. Try it
Michael: Sheri—we have some great soups on our site. Let us give you the link.
Family Circle: Hi Sheri, here are some recipes for soups and stews that you might want to try.
Jones: Hi Michael—I have friends who use their slow cooker to make dessert (ex. cobblers, cakes), how popular is this in your world (as an editor)? Thanks. Scott
Jones: and Michele too…
Michele Scicolone: I love the way cheesecakes turn out in the slow cooker. Creamy smooth and never a crack! Also good are flourless chocolate cakes, creme caramel, and bread pudding.
Michael: Hi Scott—our readers do like desserts in the slow cooker. Let us provide a link to a dessert slide show on our site. Thanks for joining us today.
Family Circle: Hi Jones, here are some Family Circle slow cooker recipes for desserts.
Michael: There is a great dessert of Michele’s in our March issue, Raspberry Brioche Pudding from “The French Slow Cooker.”
Michele Scicolone: One of my favorites!
Kate: Can I use a slow cooker recipe that calls for high heat for 6 hours but cook it at low heat for 8 hours? (Same issue of being gone longer than slow cooker recipe calls for, but cannot do all cooking on weekends.)
Michael: Kate — I think that your adjustment in time and cooking at low makes sense.
Kate: I’ve seen some slow cooker recipes for roasted whole chicken, the skin won’t crisp up though, right? So will it be more like a Chinese whole steamed chicken???
Michael: Kate — Maybe Michele can weigh in on this tricky issue. :0
Michele Scicolone: Hi, Kate, yes, it is more like a steamed chicken, but nice and juicy and infused with the flavor of the seasonings. It’s a perfect way to cook chicken.
Family Circle: Slow Cooker Chat continues: What is your favorite meat to make in the slow cooker?
Louis: Favorite mea t= short ribs!
Michele Scicolone: Short ribs are the best. They turn out fall off the bone tender! And you can season them so many ways.
Michael: Louis—short ribs are a great candidate for the slow cooker and can handle longer cooking times.
Michele Scicolone: Pork ribs, too, as Margarita pointed out. Meaty country style ribs are a favorite.
Michael: Michele—what would be your favorite side dishes for short ribs?
Michele Scicolone: I guess that depends on the sauce or seasonings. But you can’t go wrong with mashed potatoes, or if it’s saucy I might serve polenta or pasta on the side.
Michele Scicolone: Spinach with garlic, or broccoli with butter and cheese, for a green. I’m getting hungry!
Michael: Michele—mashed potatoes or polenta with the ribs?
Michele Scicolone: Yes, Michael! Thanks for clarifying I was referring to the potatoes as sides for the ribs.
Stacey: I continually have problems with rice in my slow cooker (usually making jambalaya or gumbo type dish). Even when following recipes to the letter, my rice is always undercooked after the time specified. Any tips?
Michael: Stacey—generally how close to end of cooking time do you add it? And what kind of rice?
Michael: Michele—what is your experience with rice in the slow cooker?
Michele Scicolone: It goes back to what I said earlier. Not all slow cookers are the same. I have worked with 7 or 8 of them and they are all different. Maybe Stacey needs to add the rice to the pot earlier, or cook it longer. Adjust the recipe to your cooker and don’t rely on the printed cooking time.
Stacey: I generally use plain old white rice; medium grain. Not instant or anything. Thanks!
Annette: I made a jambalaya with b/s chicken thighs and turkey sausage and served over rice. The recipe for called for shrimp to be added in about 20 minutes prior to being done but I FORGOT to add it!!! But still delicious!! Now we have some nice leftover shrimp for another dish!!!
Michael: Annette—20 minutes sounds about right for the shrimp. We have a great slow cooker story which will run in our April issue and has an easy, tasty jambalaya recipe.
Family Circle: Thanks for joining our weekly Slow Cooker Chat, everyone! Come back again next week from 1pm-2pm EST on Wednesday to talk more with our associate food editor and slow cooking expert Michael Tyrrell and share your recipes. Also, a special thanks to cookbook author and teacher Michele Scicolone, author of “The Italian Slow Cooker” and “The French Slow Cooker” for joining the chat as our special guest.
Michele Scicolone: Thanks, everybody! Fun chatting with you!
Join us on our Facebook page next Wednesday from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. EST for another Slow Cooker Chat.
Check out these links for more slow cooker recipes: