3 Ways to Use Your Slow Cooker This Summer
The slow cooker may just be your best-kept secret this summer. Though slow cooking is often associated with winter stews and comfort foods, using this innovative device in the summer can help keep the heat out of your home, provide flexibility and deliver mouth-wateringingly-good summertime meals. Between the ice pops and beach days, consider these three reasons to use your slow cooker this summer:
1. Backyard Barbecues
Summertime without barbecues is like springtime without rain: They go hand in hand. Whether you're hosting or attending, being ready for all of the summer's biggest backyard parties is key for a successful and stress-free summer. The good news is that there are a number of barbecue classics that you can create in your slow cooker. With the flexibility of programmable cook times, you can prepare the ingredients for your dish long before the party kicks off. Simply add everything to your slow cooker in the morning, enjoy the sunshine all day and come back to the aroma of a delicious dinner or side dish ready to go. Friends will go crazy for this pulled pork beer and grilled cheese sandwich recipe as well as this sweet and spicy pulled pork recipe. For a classic dish, try this slow-cooked potato salad recipe:
Slow-Cooked Potato Salad
As the ideal side dish for hot dogs, burgers and even summer vegetable salads, potato salad is a staple of picnics and barbecues alike.
- 1/2 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled
- 1 1/4 cups chopped onions
- 1 1/4 cups chopped celery
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 3/4 teaspoon celery seed
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 2 pounds small red potatoes, cut into 1/4-inch slices
- 1 chicken broth
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/4 cup cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- After cooking bacon and setting aside, heat onions and celery in the drippings until crisp and browned.
- Season with salt, celery seed and pepper.
- Layer 1/2 of potatoes in slow cooker, followed by onion and celery mixture.
- Repeat layers.
- Pour chicken broth over top.
- Cover and cook on LOW for 5 to 6 hours.
- Remove potatoes with slotted spoon.
- In a small bowl, combine sugar, cornstarch and vinegar.
- Pour mixture into slow cooker and stir to mix.
- Add bacon to slow cooker and fold in potatoes.
- Turn heat to HIGH, cover and cook for 20 to 30 more minutes.
- Sprinkle with parsley.
- Potato salad can be kept on LOW heat setting for up to 2 hours for serving.
2. Breakfast For Summer Guests
Summer is the season of travel, vacations and visits from friends and family. Between Father's Day, Independence Day and other summer holidays and birthdays, anniversaries and pool parties, there is always a reason for the in-laws to swing by. Extra people in the home can sound overwhelming in the midst of the dog days of summer, but before you stress about keeping everyone fed and happy, consider using your slow cooker during breakfast time.
Not only will it save you time and energy, but it will allow you to sit down and enjoy a homemade breakfast dish and coffee over the morning newspaper with your loved ones. Rather than standing over the stovetop on a warm summer morning flipping pancakes, you can wake up to the aroma of a hearty egg casserole or savory French toast dish. All of the work and preparation will have been done the night before! You can even make these gluten-free scones in your slow cooker.
3. Creative Recipes
If you enjoy cooking and experimenting with new flavors, summer is the perfect time to do so. In the middle of August when it's just too hot to be outside and you've exhausted all of your local indoor activities, spend the afternoon inside your air-conditioned kitchen with your slow cooker. For recipes that require multiple steps, such as browning or sauteing before slow cooking, the Crock-Pot® 6-Quart Slow Cooker with Stovetop-Safe Cooking Pot is your go-to slow cooker. With its DuraCeramic™ stovetop-safe cooking pot, you can complete both steps in the same pot! Your life is made easier with less mess and fewer dishes - not to mention improved flavor.
Lemon and Feta Lamb Shanks
These Greek-influenced slow-cooked lamb shanks are ideal for summer. Served alongside a Mediterranean salad and paired with the perfect glass of red wine, this dinner is ideal for a warm evening on the patio under the stars.
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 brown onion, chopped
- 6 French-trimmed lamb shanks
- 1 bottle tomato passata
- 1 cup Massel beef stock
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon caster sugar
- 3 large sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 3 cups chat potatoes
- 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon rind
- 2/3 cup lemon juice, extra
- 1/3 cup pitted kalamata olives
- Greek-style feta, crumbled
- Heat olive oil in stovetop-safe cooking pot over medium-high heat.
- Add chopped onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
- Turn up heat and cook lamb, in three to four different batches.
- Brown shanks for about 3 to 4 minutes, ensuring all sides are seared.
- Transfer DuraCeramic™ cooking pot to slow cooker.
- Add passata, beef stock, lemon juice, garlic cloves, sugar, thyme and oregano.
- Cover and cook on HIGH for 4 hours or on LOW for 8 hours.
- Remove cover and add potatoes.
- Continue cooking until potatoes are tender.
- Remove shanks.
- Add rind and extra juice to slow cooker.
- Season and stir to combine.
- Return remaining shanks to slow cooker.
- Add olives and stir.
- Top with crumbled feta before serving.
No matter how you choose to use your slow cooker this summer, it will become your best kitchen tool all season long.