What a Crock.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


In my years (what, like, 5 maybe?) of cooking, I’ve tended to snub the crock pot. Or, “slow cooker” is the new, politically correct term for it these days, I guess. Visions of pot roasts (haven’t warmed up to those yet), sticky stews and weird oatmeals have turned me off to this machine.

Now I think that maybe Baby Jesus sent his angels down in the form of crock pots. There’s no other explanation for something that takes a bunch of ingredients, sends you on your merry way for hours on end and cooks your dinner while you’re gone. It’s a dang Christmas miracle.

 I should warn that this particular slow cooker recipe takes a bit more work than the usual, “stick that there chicken in with some salsa and you got yourself a dandy meal.” But stick with me.


Meatballs in Tomato Wine Sauce

adapted from Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Recipes

For the sauce:

2 TB olive oil

1 large yellow onion, finely chopped

2-3 cloves garlic

1/4 cup dry red wine

One 28-oz can diced tomatoes, with juice

One 6-oz can tomato paste

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 tsp minced fresh basil

1 tsp minced fresh oregano

1/4 tsp ground allspice

1 bay leaf

2 Tb minced fresh parsleyIMG_0829

For the meatballs

1.5 lbs lean ground beef

1 cup plain dry bread crumbs

2 large eggs

3 Tb freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

1 tsp minced fresh basil

3/4 tsp minced fresh oregano

1/4 cup minced fresh parsley

dash of ground allspice

1.5 Tb olive oil

1/4 cup dry red wine


1. To prepare the sauce, heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring until softened but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add wine, bring to a boil and continue boiling for 1-2 minutes, scraping up any browned bits stuck to pan.

2. Transfer to the slow cooker. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, salt, pepper, basil, oregano, parsley, allspice and bay leaf and stir to combine. Cover and cook on HIGH while you prepare meatballs.

3. To prepare the meatballs, put the ground beef in a large bowl, breaking it up a bit with your fingers or a large fork. Add bread crumbs, eggs, Parmesan, salt, pepper, basil, oregano, parsley and allspice. Gently but thoroughly blend the ingredients, using your hands or a large fork. Be careful not to compact the meat, which will make your meatballs tough. Gently shape the mixture into 12 meatballs.

4. Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add meatballs and brown on all sides, turning carefully, 6 to 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer them to the sauce. Pour off any fat from the skillet, return to the stove and add wine. Cook over high heat for 2-3 minutes. Pour over meatballs. Cook on LOW for 5-6 hours. Remove bay leaf and serve over pasta.



Sylvie said...

I used to have a crock pot, but left it together with the ex. Now there's a regret (the leaving of the crock pot that is).

Faith, the Authoress said...

Sylvie, that's a crying shame - I suffered the same loss of a crock pot to an ex. Luckily, a good one will only run you about $40! (The crock pot, not a new boyfriend.)

Anonymous said...

Harold McGee, food scientist, had a neat trick with the crock pot. Somehow you hook up a regulator so crockpot cycles on and off when it hits a certain temp. That way, you can make it run at exactly 435.68 degrees, or whatever it is that you need. Can't remember the purpose of that, though.

He also had a tip on breaking the lock on your oven so you can use the self-cleaning feature to run it at 1,000 degrees, so you can cook a pizza in 2 minutes.