Slow-Cooker Jambalaya

My father-in-law makes jambalaya year round. I always enjoy it! I typically make it once a year after finding a new version to try for our celebratory Mardi Gras meal.

I was drawn to this recipe because it utilizes a slow cooker- and mine is underutilized. I learned that I should stick with my typical cooking methods! I significantly extended the cooking time for the rice, probably because I didn’t use parboiled rice. Oops. It was a little bit of a struggle. In the end, the rice did absorb all of the wonderful flavors of the dish. It was worth the wait!

The recipe was adapted from food52.com, contributed by Kristina Vanni. I used kielbasa instead of andouille sausage, chicken thigh instead of chicken breast meat, and modified the method and proportions. I loved that this version incorporated chicken, sausage, and shrimp.

We ended the feast with our annual King Cake, a family favorite.

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 large green bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 T tomato paste
  • 1 T chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 T Creole seasoning (I used Slap ya Mama)
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 (12 ounce) package andouille or kielbasa sausage, cut in half lengthwise and then into 1/4-inch half-moons
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked long-grain white rice, preferably parboiled (I used Basmati)
  • 1 pound raw large shrimp, peeled and deveined (I used 21-25 count per pound)
  • sliced scallions, for garnish
  • Louisiana-style hot sauce, optional, for serving
  1. In a large skillet or sauté pan over medium to medium-high heat, heat the 1 tablespoon of oil until shimmering. Add the onion, green bell pepper, and celery. Cook until the vegetables are softened. (Alternatively, set the slow cooker to the sauté setting and complete these steps.)
  2. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.
  3. Add the tomato paste, fresh thyme, Creole seasoning, salt, pepper, and bay leaves. Stir to combine. Remove from heat and transfer to the slow cooker.
  4. In the same pan over medium to medium-high heat, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil. Add the sliced sausage and cook until lightly browned on both sides. Transfer to the slow cooker.
  5. Add the cubed chicken to the skillet and cook until lightly browned; transfer to the slow cooker.
  6. Add the chicken stock and diced tomatoes. Stir to combine.
  7. Cover and cook on low for 4 to 6 hours, or on high for 2 to 3 hours. (I cooked the dish on high for 3 hours.)
  8. If cooking on high and using long grain white rice that is not parboiled, add the rice to the pot after 1 1/2 hours. (I used Basmati rice and it took 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours on high to be fully cooked.)(If using parboiled rice, add it to the pot 20 to 30 minutes before the end of the cooking time.)
  9. Once the rice is tender, add the shrimp to the slow cooker, stir, and cook on high for 2 to 5 minutes more, stirring once or twice, until the shrimp are pink throughout and are fully cooked. 
  10. To serve, top with chopped scallions for garnish. Serve with Louisiana hot sauce for additional heat, as desired.

One-Pot White Bean & Sausage Stew

This is another one-pot, cold weather, comfort food stew. Before our first snow, I rescued some rosemary and thyme from my garden- I was so happy to incorporate both in this dish. 🙂

The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I added parmesan rind to the pot while the beans were simmering. I also modified the method and used an immersion blender to purée some of the beans after they were cooked to add creaminess to the finished dish.

The recipe can also be adapted to make in a slow cooker, noted below. Easy and delicious with rich and deep flavor.

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 1+ pounds sweet Italian sausage, sliced 3/4-inch thick (I used 5 links)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 medium carrots, finely diced
  • 2 celery stalks, finely diced
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 pound dried great Northern beans, rinsed and picked through
  • 4 cups (1 quart) water
  • 4 cups (1 quart) chicken or turkey stock (I used homemade turkey stock)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 1 large rosemary sprig
  • 1 bay leaf
  • parmesan rind, optional
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar, plus more for serving
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, plus more to taste
  • minced parsley, for garnish, optional
  1. Heat oil in a large stockpot over medium-high. (I used a large enameled cast iron Dutch oven.)
  2. Add the sausage and brown until cooked through, about 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel.
  3. Add the tomato paste and cumin to the pot. Cook, stirring, until dark golden, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add the carrots, celery, and onion. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add the garlic and stir for an additional 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  6. Stir in the beans, 4 cups water, 4 cups stock, salt, thyme, rosemary and bay leaf. Turn the heat up to high and bring to a boil.
  7. Then reduce heat to low, add the parmesan rind (highly recommend!), cover the pot, and simmer gently until the beans are tender, about 2 hours, adding more water if needed to make sure the beans remain submerged. (I covered the pot and did not have to add any additional liquid.)
  8. To add creaminess, use an immersion blender to purée some of the stew. (I blended for about 10 seconds.)(Alternatively, 1 or 2 cups of beans can be removed, puréed, and returned to the pot.)
  9. When beans are tender, return the sausage to the pot. Simmer for 5 minutes.
  10. Stir in the vinegar and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning. Ladle into warm bowls and serve drizzled with more vinegar and olive oil, if desired. Garnish with parsley, if desired.

To Make the Stew in a Slow Cooker:

  1. Add all of the ingredients, except the sausage and garnishes, and 7 cups water/stock (instead of 8) to the machine.
  2. Cook on low for 8 hours. (It holds well on low for 2 more hours.)
  3. When you’re ready to serve, roast the sausage on a sheet pan at 425 degrees for about 20 minutes.
  4. Slice and add the sausage, as well as any accumulated juices from the pan, to the soup. Warm through and serve.

Slow Cooker Chicken Tagine with Butternut Squash

I made this full-flavored Moroccan dish when we were dreaming of a family trip to Morocco. (Currently still a dream trip!) It was amazing to be able to create a tagine-like dish using a slow cooker. My husband actually often asks me if I “need” a tagine. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Sarah DiGregorio. I increased the amount of garlic and served the chicken over Israeli couscous with sautéed kale on the side. The chicken was falling-off-of-the-bone tender. Wonderful!

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

Time: 4 1/2 to 6 1/2 hours

  • 1 medium (2 to 2 1/2 pound) butternut squash, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded and cut into 3-inch-by-1-inch wedges
  • 8 pitted dates, such as Medjool, halved
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 1 ½ teaspoons turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon hot smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 T canola oil
  • 3 ½ to 4 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, trimmed (I used 8 thighs)
  • 1 large red onion, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup minced ginger (from about a 4-inch piece peeled ginger)
  • 6 to 8 large garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ cup lemon juice (from about 1 large lemon), plus more to taste
  • leaves of 1 small bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • cooked couscous or pita for serving, optional (I used Israeli couscous)
  • plain yogurt, for topping, optional (I used 2% Greek yogurt)
  • toasted slivered almonds, for topping, optional
  1. Finely chop the onion in a food processor; set aside. Mince the ginger and garlic in a food processor; set aside.
  2. Put the squash wedges and pitted dates into a 6- to 8-quart slow cooker. Season generously with salt and pepper.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon stick, sweet paprika, turmeric, cumin, hot smoked paprika, ground ginger, cloves and cayenne and set aside.
  4. Warm the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  5. Pat the chicken dry and season it generously with salt.
  6. Working in two batches, put the chicken in the skillet skin side down and cook without moving it until the skin is deeply golden, crisp, and releases fairly easily from the bottom of the pan, about 5 to 8 minutes per batch. (You need to brown only the skin side.) Transfer the chicken to the slow cooker, nestling the thighs skin side up and in one crowded layer on top of the squash.
  7. Decrease the stovetop heat to medium. If there is a lot of rendered fat in the pan, pour off all but a thin layer to cover the entire bottom of the skillet. Add the onion, season with salt, and cook, stirring to scrape up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan, until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes.
  8. Add the ginger and garlic, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  9. Add the reserved spices and stir well for about 30 seconds, until the mixture is a uniform brick red.
  10. Add the lemon juice, stir well to incorporate the browned bits, then scrape the mixture over the top of the chicken, making sure to include any spice-stained oil that remains.
  11. Cook on low until the squash and chicken are very tender and the flavors are mellow, at least 4 hours and up to 6 hours. If it’s more convenient, you can let the slow cooker switch to warm after 6 hours. The dish will hold on warm for another 2 hours before the chicken starts to dry out.
  12. Remove and discard the cinnamon stick. Add additional lemon juice and salt, to taste, and fold in the chopped parsley and scallions.
  13. Serve with couscous or pita, topped with yogurt and toasted almonds, as desired.

Slow Cooker Lentil Soup with Italian Sausage & Greens

I actually have a third tasty soup to share. This one is reminiscent of one of our family favorites, Lentil-Kielbasa Soup. Don’t worry- it’s not so similar that it will prevent me from making my tried and true lentil-sausage soup as well this season. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Sarah Digregorio. I used French green lentils instead of black lentils, modified the proportions and incorporated a mixture of CSA greens including beet greens, broccoli greens and escarole. I also garnished the soup with my CSA parsley instead of basil.

This soup could easily be made on the stove top instead of in a slow cooker. I loved that it gobbled up my CSA greens too.

Yield: 6 servings

  • 1 pound hot or sweet Italian pork sausage, loose or removed from its casing
  • olive oil, if necessary
  • 1 large red or yellow onion, chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • 10 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3 thyme sprigs
  • 2 oregano sprigs, leaves only, or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • generous pinch of red-pepper flakes
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine (I used Pinot Grigio)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups dried lentils, preferably black beluga (I used French green lentils)
  • 1 (14-ounce) can whole or chopped tomatoes
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 5 ounces greens, such as baby spinach or kale, or 1 medium bunch greens, such as chard or kale, stemmed and chopped (I used a mixture of beet & broccoli greens with escarole)
  • 1 T red-wine vinegar
  • chopped fresh parsley or basil, for garnish
  • grated Parmigiano Reggiano, for garnish
  1.  In a large, dry skillet over medium-high heat, cook the sausage, breaking it up with a spatula, until it is in small, coarse pieces, and starts to brown and sizzle in its own fat, about 8 minutes.
  2. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked sausage to a 5- to 8-quart slow cooker. There should be a thin layer of fat covering the bottom of the skillet. If there is much more than that, pour a bit of the fat off. If there is not enough fat to cover the bottom of the pan, add a drizzle of olive oil.
  3. Add the onion to the skillet, season generously with salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes.
  4. Reduce heat to medium-low, add garlic and cook until softened and fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  5. Add the onion and garlic powders, the herbs, red pepper flakes and several generous grinds of black pepper. Stir to combine.
  6. Increase heat to medium-high, pour in the wine and stir well, scraping the bottom of the pot. Let the wine bubble until the pan is almost dry, about 3 minutes.
  7. Scrape the skillet mixture into the slow cooker with the sausage.
  8. Add the bay leaf and the lentils.
  9. Add the tomatoes with their juice. If using whole, crush the tomatoes into pieces using your hands as you add them with their juice.
  10. Pour in the chicken stock.
  11. Season generously with pepper and add 1/2 teaspoon salt if you are using low-sodium stock or 1 teaspoon salt if using homemade unsalted stock. Do not add salt now if you are using fully salted stock.
  12. Stir well to combine all ingredients. Cover and cook on low until the lentils are tender, about 6 to 8 hours. (Taste the lentils to make sure they are firm but creamy on the inside; black lentils can vary in their cooking time depending on their age and the heat of your slow cooker.) The soup holds well on warm for 2 additional hours.
  13. Switch the heat to high. Remove and discard the thyme sprigs. Stir in the greens and cook until wilted and tender, about 2 minutes for baby spinach, 10 minutes for kale.
  14. Stir in the vinegar.
  15. Serve in bowls, topped with chopped parsley and/or basil and grated Parmesan.

Apple Cider Pulled Chicken Sandwiches with Slaw

I have made slow-cooker pulled chicken sandwiches in the past but felt like they would be improved with slaw. This version fulfilled that wish! We ate them on soft potato rolls with chips. It was a wonderful, casual dinner that we enjoyed outside on a beautiful night.

This recipe was adapted from Just Cook It! 145 Built-to-be-Easy Recipes that are Totally Delicious by Justin Chapple. I used broccoli slaw as a base for the cole slaw topping and opted to not toast the rolls. With minimal preparation required in the morning, it’s a great dish to serve after a busy day.

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

For the Pulled Chicken:

  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • coarse salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 pounds boneless, skinless, chicken thighs (about 8 to 10)
  • potato sandwich rolls, split, toasted if desired, for serving
  • slaw (recipe below), for serving

For the Slaw:

  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 T apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 tsp celery seeds
  • 12 ounces broccoli slaw (Trader Joe’s) or Brussels sprouts or shredded cabbage
  • 1 large Ruby Frost or Granny Smith apple, cored and julienned
  • 1 very firm Anjou or Bartlett pear, cored and juilienned
  • coarse salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

To Make the Chicken:

  1. In a slow cooker, whisk together the apple cider, ketchup, sugar, vinegar, garlic, 2 tsp coarse salt, and 1 tsp pepper.
  2. Add the chicken thighs and mix well.
  3. Cover and cook on Low for 6 to 7 hours or High for 3 to 4 hours, until the chicken is very tender.
  4. Using 2 forks, shred the chicken in the sauce and then season generously with salt and pepper.

To Make the Slaw:

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, vinegar, and celery seeds.
  2. Using a mandoline set to 1/8″, julienne the apple and pear. Slice the Brussels sprouts lengthwise by hand, if using.
  3. Add the fruit to the mayonnaise mixture, followed by the shredded cabbage/broccoli/Brussels sprouts.
  4. Season with salt and pepper and mix.
  5. Chill until ready to serve.

To Serve:

  1. Pile the pulled chicken on soft or toasted potato buns, top with slaw, and serve.

Note: The pulled chicken can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Reheat gently before serving.

Pressure Cooker Coconut Curry Chicken

Using a multi-cooker like an Instant Pot seems to be all the rage. I can’t justify owning one… as I have a fabulous stove top pressure cooker and a separate slow cooker. Thankfully, wonderful dishes like this work with my old school kitchen supplies. 😉

The sauce is incredibly flavorful in this dish. I LOVED it! I am such a sauce person. I made it with boneless, skinless chicken thighs but cubes of lamb, fish, or pork could also be used. If using chicken breast meat the cooking time should be reduced to 2 minutes. This recipe was adapted from Dinner in an Instant by Melissa Clark, via The New York Times. I used crushed tomatoes instead of fresh and used a stove top pressure cooker. We enjoyed it with roasted CSA cauliflower on the side. Fabulous.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 28 oz can crushed San Marzano tomatoes or 3 to 4 ripe tomatoes, halved through their equators
  • 3 tablespoons ghee, unsalted butter or safflower oil
  • 3 tablespoons virgin coconut oil
  • 2 cups finely chopped yellow onions
  • 6 garlic cloves, grated on a Microplane or minced
  • 2 tablespoons grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 3-inch cinnamon stick or 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 8 cardamom pods, lightly crushed with the flat side of a knife, or 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 ½ to 3 pounds (about 10) boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons garam masala, to taste
  • ½ cup canned unsweetened coconut milk
  • cooked brown Basmati rice, for serving, optional
  • plain yogurt, for serving, optional
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish
  1. If using fresh tomatoes, start by setting a box grater over a bowl. Starting with their cut sides, grate the tomatoes through the large holes of the box grater so the tomato pulp falls into the bowl. Discard the skins. Measure out 2 cups of tomato purée.
  2. Heat the ghee and the coconut oil in the pressure cooker. Stir in the onions and sauté, stirring often to encourage even browning, until they are caramelized, 12 to 18 minutes.
  3. Stir in the garlic, ginger and cumin seeds; cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  4. Stir in the cinnamon and cardamom and cook for another minute.
  5. Stir in the coriander, salt, turmeric, red pepper flakes, black pepper and finally the tomato purée (fresh or canned).
  6. Add the chicken to the sauce, cover and cook on low pressure for 4 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally; this could take up to 30 minutes. If the sauce seems too thin, use a slotted spoon to transfer the chicken to a bowl and then simmer the sauce on the sauté setting until it has thickened to taste. (Note that the coconut milk will thin the sauce down further.) (I reduced the sauce.)
  7. Stir in the garam masala and the coconut milk, and let the curry sit for 20 minutes for the flavors to meld.
  8. Serve with the rice and yogurt, if desired. Garnish with cilantro.

Note: If you’d rather use a slow cooker, cook on high for 2 to 3 hours or on low for 4 to 5 hours, adding the coconut milk during the last hour.

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Broken Pasta with Shredded Pork & Arugula

Arugula is my absolute favorite item in my CSA share. It is so peppery and fabulous. I loved that this cozy comfort food dish used it as a glorious and bright topping along with lemon juice and cheese.

This dish was adapted from chef Nick Anderer of restaurant Maialino in New York, via Smitten Kitchen. I used boneless pork shoulder ribs instead of a whole pork shoulder, increased the lemon juice and cheese, added a carrot and omitted the fennel. I also cooked the meat in a slow cooker instead of the oven.

I reserved half of the cooked meat, after step 9, to freeze to enjoy at a later date. Nice.

Yield: Serves 8 to 10

  • 4 pounds boneless pork shoulder rib pieces (or 1 bone-in pork shoulder, about 4 pounds)
  • coarse salt
  • 4 T olive oil, divided
  • 1 large white or yellow onion, peeled and cut into large pieces
  • 2 large ribs celery, cut into large pieces
  • 1 carrot or 1 small fennel bulb, trimmed and cut into large pieces
  • 1 quart chicken stock, plus a splash or two more, if needed
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 20-ounces dry lasagna, broken into 3-inch shards
  • 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or more to taste
  • 4 tablespoons (or more) grated or shaved parmesan or grand padano cheese
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley, if desired
  • Large handful or two of arugula leaves, cleaned
  1. Prepare pork: Use a sharp knife to remove the thick skin from the pork, but not trimming off all the fat — leave a thin sheen. Season generously with salt and place in fridge until ready to use — overnight is ideal but a few hours will cut it as well.
  2. Sear the pork: Heat a deep saucepan over medium-high and add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. When it shimmers, gently cook the onion, celery and carrot (or fennel) until they begin to soften, about 10 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.
  3. Dry pork with a paper towel to remove some excess salt. Season with pepper. Add an additional 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan, then add the pork and cook until browned on all sides.
  4. Add pork to a slow cooker. Add broth, vegetables, and thyme sprigs. Cover.
  5. Cook on high for 3 hours. Remove pork from braising liquid. Allow to cool enough to be able to handle.
  6. Using two forks, tear the meat into bite-size shreds. Place in a large bowl.
  7. Strain the braising liquid, pouring enough of it over the pork to barely cover it and keep it from drying out. Place back in the slow cooker insert and set to warm.
  8. Pour the rest of the braising liquid into the original saucepan and simmer it until it is reduced by half.
  9. Add pork and cooking liquid that has covered it, and warm it back to a simmer. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more salt and pepper if needed. (**At this point, I reserved half of the meat and braising liquid to freeze for use at another time.**)
  10. Add the butter and stir to emulsify. (Because I removed half of the pork, I used 1/2 of the amount of ingredients listed above for the remainder of this dish, including the butter.)
  11. Bring large pot of well-salted water to boil. Cook pasta until al dente, or usually a minute shy of package directions. (I used no-cook lasagna noodles and cooked them for about 8 minutes.)
  12. Drain and add to the pork mixture, simmering for 1 minute.
  13. Add the lemon juice, half the cheese and parsley, if using.
  14. Ladle into wide pasta bowls with and top with arugula and remaining cheese.

Note: If saving some of the pork to use later, rewarm the defrosted pork and braising liquid to a simmer, add a splash or two of pasta cooking water if needed to loosen it, and then the butter. Add freshly cooked pasta, lemon juice and parmesan from here.

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