The nice thing about a crock pot is that you pretty much can’t go wrong with it.

If you’re like me, you often find yourself with lots of little bits of stuff to get rid of, and the crockpot is great for that.  Clean out your fridge in the morning, have nice fresh dinner waiting for you in the evening.

And so it happened I found myself in just such a position last week.  I wasn’t about to go out and buy groceries; we’ve been stuck in a polar vortex this winter, and it was several degrees below zero, with several inches of fresh snow on the ground.  I decided to work from home, rather than running the gauntlet of commuting in such terrible weather.  I took a break in the morning time and threw together this tasty crockpot soup:

A chicken breast.
Half a carrot, chopped up.
A can of corn.
A big handful of dried black beans.
A banged-up stalk of lemongrass.
Enough chicken stock to cover.

Let it cook a long ass time. (~6-12 hours on high) You’ll know when it’s done because the beans will be soft.

Add a dollop of barbeque sauce.
Add in some curry powder. A healthy amount.
Add some chili powder.
Add about a half can of coconut milk, and let that go a while longer.
After that all tastes delicious, finish with a couple of tablespoons of masa to thicken it up, and let it go another 10 min.

This is also what’s known as the “cleaning out the fridge” style of slow-cooking. If it were kung fu, it’d be Vulture Claw style.

image

Hey, it’s not molecular gastronomy, alright? It’s a cheap-as-dirt weeknight dinner. You know you’d eat it.

Look, let’s not lie to each other. Sometimes humans eat Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. (Kraft Dinner, if you live in a country that cares about the proper status of cheese in culture.)  But come on — it’s like a dollar a package, anyone can make it, and it fills you up.  Sure, there’s nothing even approaching real cheese that’s ever been anywhere near it.  It’s the very epitome of American low-brow cuisine, utterly unpretentious in every way.

You eat it.  You’re not proud of it, but you eat it.

It needn’t be like that; don’t be the fool who just follows the directions on the package.  Do it up right. It can be pretty good eating, if you take the time to customize it.

  • Put some real cheese in there. You know, whatever you’ve got in the fridge, just at the end when you’re mixing in the orange powder. Fresh.
  • Cut up some smoked sausage or chorizo and throw that shit in there.  Fry it first, to get all the edges nice and browned.  That’s where the flavor lives.
  • Use cream instead of milk. What, are you worried about getting fat or something?
  • Why not chop up a tomato and mix that sucker in there? I like the Roma ones, but even a can of diced tomatoes would do in a pinch.
  • Got a little bottle of liquid smoke in the fridge? Drop a few drops in, and prepare to have your mind blown.  Or hell, maybe  dash of smoked paprika and cumin. Mm mm!
  • And this is my new favorite.  Make it according to the package instructions, but then, just before you serve it, spoon in a couple of tablespoons of Mexican crema. I suppose you can use sour cream if you want, but honestly, I don’t know why anyone would buy the regular kind if you can get the Mexican version instead. It imparts an awesome, tangy, smooth creaminess that’s just fantastic.