What a crock

Admittedly, my biggest kitchen failures usually come from a Crock pot.

If you forget about the first time I made Tiramisu without sugar or my passive-aggressive relationship with yeast, the Crock-pot is my next greatest culinary nemesis.

Oh, I do fine with chili, soups or beans because that’s what slow-cookers are made for–heating things together that love to hang out all day without any hopes of self-transformation from what goes in to begin with. It’s when I stray from this intended purpose and expect a hunk of meat, a can of soup and a tube of refrigerated biscuits to become Beef Wellington after 8 hours on my counter that I run into difficulty.

Such was the case this week when I saw a Crock-pot recipe for a cider-braised pork tenderloin in which I had all of the ingredients and didn’t have to go to the grocery store which already was a victory for me.

It called for a slather of honey mustard on the pork, then apple cider and cut fresh apples on top. I knew it was an incongruous and incomplete combination as I placed it all in there but I was so hopeful that I just replaced the lid and like Jane Jetson, waited for a complete and delicious meal to magically emerge even though utter crap just went in.

When we returned that evening, the house was supposed to smell all roasty, porky, and fall-y, but instead the aroma was more baby-foody with a hint of wet dog at a state fair. When I removed the lid, it looked pretty much like it did that morning except it was all one color and texture–wet, sad, beige and defeated.

Before calling for pizza, I tried a small bite to confirm what I already suspected by sight and smell.

Dry, flavorless, a little chewy with a fermented aftertaste; the familiar taste of another Crock-pot catastrophe.

I’m not sure what the moral of this story is–other people cook fish in dishwashers and chicken in microwaves and maybe even bake bread in popcorn poppers for all I know–but for me cooking much in a slow cooker is Crock full of disaster.

©2013 Tracey Henry

White Turkey Chili

There’s only a week until Halloween and we have a lot to do, people. There are copious amounts of food-coloring, meat-sculpturing, vegetable-carving and other compound verbs that you never thought would be part of your late October repertoire.

Let’s get started, shall we?

I’m always on the look out for a good white chili recipe, but I haven’t found one that takes all of the elements I like into one bowl.

So I came up with this one.

It’s a true slow-cooker recipe–not one of those fake ones that makes you prepare 9/10 of the ingredients on the stovetop before putting into the crock pot. I hate those. Why bother unless you really love doing dishes.

Because this is made with ground turkey rather than beef, I think it’s well-suited to be put in the crock-pot raw. The only explanations I can find for browning first is for depth of flavor and to drain off the fat. With lean turkey, there isn’t much fat to drain off, so have at it. It will be cooked thoroughly after 8 hours.

Also, this uses dried beans rather than canned which allows the bean to hold up and still have a nice texture.

Enjoy responsibly.

Scare up a pot of this on Halloween night or anytime you need a little comfort.
Scare up a pot of this on Halloween night or anytime you need a little comfort.

White Turkey Chili

1 package lean ground turkey (it’s a little over a pound)
1 onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 package of dried white navy beans or other white bean
1 10 oz can of Rotel tomatoes, drained
2 cups frozen corn
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 t. pepper

32 oz carton of chicken broth
1 12 oz bottle of beer

1/2 cup heavy cream

Shredded cheese, sour cream, and/or chopped scallions for toppings

1.) Put the ground turkey on the bottom of a heating slowly and break up slightly. Add next 11 ingredients and gently combine.

2.) Cook covered (duh) for either 8 hours on low or 6 hours on high. If it gets dry at any point, don’t be afraid to add more broth, beer or water.

3.) With 30 minutes left to go in the cooking time, add the heavy cream and continue cooking.

4.) Serve with your favorite chili toppings, but be aware of hitchhiking ghosts.

©2013 Tracey Henry