Pre-slow cooker pot roast and accompanying vegetables (plus a generous handful of Italian parsley); photo taken in the early afternoon while there was still daylight.
My slow cooker, my friend. And a worthy friend at that! I can roughly chop a bunch of ingredients up, throw them in my slow cooker, and 4-8 hours later I have a meal that is comforting, delicious, complex in flavour, and almost always yields leftovers. Pot roast is an especially rewarding slow cooker meal, the final product being akin to actual kitchen alchemy with very little effort on your behalf. All you need to do is brown the roast on all sides and then pop it into your crockpot, add a few flavour enhancers, and then nestle in a bouquet of winter vegetables to complete the meal. I know that lots of people like to add potatoes to their pot roast, which you should do if that sounds appealing. Personally, I prefer my potatoes made separately – mashed with butter and Greek yogurt until perfectly whipped and fluffy. You can add all sorts of vegetables to your slow cooker, besides the options presented below; I am particularly fond of celeriac, parsnips, mushrooms, pearl onions, fennel bulbs, and turnip. Just make the vegetables are cut up in a fairly uniform size, although the risk of undercooking anything is rendered impossible due to cooking times. This is also a very forgiving recipe and in fact a very good one to use if you’re trying to clean out your fridge drawers of somewhat wilted vegetables. You can omit the red wine and use all broth, or omit the broth and use all wine. The fresh herbs could be substituted with dried (use less in this case), you could also add some puréed tomatoes to make an exceptionally savoury ragu for pasta. Alternately, you could serve this pot roast on freshly toasted rolls with thin slices of mozzarella for a rustic take on the good old fashioned Sloppy Joe (one of my favourite ways to use up leftovers). I don’t think pot roast requires that you make complementary sides, but a big green salad and steamed broccolini with chopped garlic and olive oil wouldn’t be remiss.
fantastic slow cooker pot roast:
3-4 lb. pot roast (I generally use deboned roasts)
2 Tbsp. grapeseed oil
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 cup of red wine
1 cup of beef broth
2 stalks of celery, cut into thin half moons
1 large red onion, cut into fat wedges
3 large carrots, peeled and cut into generous, uniform pieces
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small rutabaga, sliced into thick half moon pieces
1 fresh sprig of rosemary
3 fresh sprigs of thyme
2 bay leaves
1-2 Tbsp. flour or cornstarch
Generous amounts of kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper
- In an large skillet or Dutch oven brown the roast in the grapeseed oil on each side. Transfer to your slow cooker.
- Add the rest of the ingredients, except for the flour or cornstarch, and cook on high for 4 hours or 8 hours on low.
- Towards the end of the cooking time remove some of the gravy from the slow cooker and whisk in the flour or cornstarch before returning the mixture back to the slow cooker. Stir the mixture back into the contents of the slow cooker and heat for another half an hour or so, stirring occasionally to prevent lumps.
I’ve been revisiting Sparklehorse lately, which is like wrapping yourself in a big blanket of sadness. The real life tragedy behind Sparklehorse is all too real is and seeps into their music as thick as any depression I can remember, which is odd because I generally find myself listening to Sparklehorse when I feel the lights turn on in my own life.
Sparklehorse – Painbirds
This simple slow cooker recipe for vegetarian chili is reliable, comforting, and very adaptable. I realize it doesn’t follow any of the strict guidelines that a truly authentic chili would, but I think that’s what gives this recipe a sense of fun and spontaneity. I dreamed this version up while I was taking an early morning train from Seattle to Vancouver. The sun was just beginning to come up, bouncing across the steely water and turning the waves gentle shades of lilac and rose; Mt. Rainier was a constant blink of gold in the distance. The tracks would briefly touch on forested areas that were coated with softest white, Puget Sound weaving in and out of view as we got closer to the Canadian border. The quiet of the early morning train was welcome as I read my new copy of Niki Segnit’s Flavor Thesaurus, a superbly witty and informative read that I warmly recommend to anyone curious about pairing and truly tasting food. If you’re anything like me you find it impossible to read about food without planning meals in your head and by the time we got home to Vancouver I was in a state of absolutely needing to cook something nourishing and wonderful. My plan was to make something in my slow cooker, so that I could take a nap and then get up to the smells of simmering vegetables. I decided on vegetarian chili, which for some reason I have always made instead of a regular chili with meat, so I felt comfortable riffing on tradition. If you want to try different vegetables I would recommend frozen corn, poblano peppers, diced carrots, celery, cremini mushrooms, roasted peppers, eggplant, or butternut squash. It’s very important to cook the onions and other aromatics together first in a skillet, the onion flavour loses some of its intensity and the spices gain focus before they’re added to the slow cooker. I’m particularly fond of topping my chili with a crispy fried egg and avocado, both lend a soothing creamy component that is only further enhanced by a quick application of Sriracha.
simple slow cooker vegetarian chili:
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 jalapeño pepper, seeds removed and minced (or seeds in, if everyone is in agreement on their heat tolerances)
2 Tbsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cocoa powder or 2 small squares of dark chocolate
2 tsp. cumin
1 small zucchini, cut into thin quarter moon slices
1 green pepper, diced
1 medium sized sweet potato, peeled and cut into a small dice
1 can of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
2 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes and their juices
11/2 cups of tomato juice (or Clamato if you’d like the Canadian version of this recipe)
1 Tbsp. salt
Generous amount of freshly cracked black pepper
Potential toppings: crispy fried egg, sliced avocado or guacamole, sliced scallions or radishes – maybe lightly pickled in some lime juice, Greek yogurt, creme fraiche, sour cream, shredded cheese, crumbled feta or Oaxaca cheese, cilantro, fresh basil, shredded carrot, salsa, Sriracha, salsa, roasted tomatillos, lime wedges, roasted corn, parsley, torn spinach, shredded Iceberg lettuce, diced tomatoes, corn chips, pickled jalapeños, chopped olives, and anything else you can think of.
- Heat up the olive oil in a large skillet and sauté the diced onion, garlic, and jalapeño until soft. Add a pinch of salt and the chili powder, cinnamon, cocoa or dark chocolate, and cumin. Stir for 2 minutes or until the spices become very fragrant. Remove from heat and reserve for future use.
- Combine the cut up vegetables, bean, tomatoes, tomato or Clamato juice, salt, and pepper to taste in a large slow cooker. Add the cooked onions and other aromatics and give everything a good stir to combine.
- Cook for 8 hours on low or 4 hours on high. Serve with the toppings of your choice and hearty buttered bread. This chili is even better the next day, when any excess liquid has had time to be absorbed and it keeps well in the fridge for 3-4 days. Freeze any remaining chili for up to 6 months.
I’m so excited for Wild Nothing’s new album, Life of Pause, to come out in February; each of their songs always feel like a sharp and smart breath of fresh air. These new songs have so much energy, lots of shoegazey influences, and just the perfect touch of Bryan Ferry – all of the suitable components that make an ideal music for Ashley trifecta.
Wild Nothing – To Know You / TV Queen
November is when I really begin to crave comfort food at the end of the day, something to eat that is both warm and filling as well as being easy to prepare. I usually run after work and to come in from the rain and darkness to a hot shower and this bright slow cooker green curry is an easy shift from one way of feeling vibrantly alive to another. This recipe consists of distinct flavours that exist symbiotically when combined with one another; buttery smooth coconut milk, astringent fresh ginger, sour sweet green curry paste, and sparkling citrus all meld into one delicious base for the chicken and vegetables. This slow cooker green chicken curry is an ideal way to use a finite amount of chicken, 2 breasts stretch to feed 4 people easily with added vegetables and rice or noodles. You could also make this green curry with cubes of firm tofu as well by reducing the cooking time to 4 hours on low. Sweet peppers or cauliflower are both personal favourites for vegetable choices to add but I also like broccoli, green beans, snap or snow peas, asparagus, and zucchini. This recipe freezes very well if you have leftovers, I portion it out into small containers and bring it to work with some brown rice for a lunchtime pick me up on dreary days.
slow cooker green chicken curry:
1 can full fat coconut milk
1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, finely diced or grated
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3 Tbsp. fish sauce
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/4 tsp. turmeric
Juice of 1 lime or 1/2 of a lemon (this makes the recipe quite tart so use less if that doesn’t appeal to you)
2-3 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts (the ones I use are most often frozen, but this recipe works just fine if they are thawed)
2 cups of sweet bell peppers, sliced into thin strips or any other single vegetable or combination of vegetables that you might like
Cooked brown rice or rice noodles tossed with sesame oil
Cilantro, loosely torn
1. Whisk together all of the ingredients preceding the chicken in the slow cooker until well combined. Add the chicken breasts and allow to simmer on the low setting for 7-8 hours.
2. Take the cooked chicken from the curry sauce and shred it using 2 forks before adding it back into the slow cooker. Add the vegetables, stir well to combine, and continue to cook for 1 hour.
3. Serve over brown rice or rice noodles with extra lime or lemon slices and a generous scattering of cilantro.
I have such a soft spot for Ladyhawke, her music is such a perfect fusion of an 80s band that almost certainly had neon lasers featured in their album art, Stevie Nicks, and the cool girl you wanted to be friends with in high school. I love her menswear wardrobe and I think it’s awesome how comfortable she looks all the time; plus, it’s fun running music. I like to listen to Ladyhawke when I’m putting together the rest of dinner at the end of a long day and drinking a mug of Moroccan tea.
Ladyhawke – Better Than Sunday