I’ve been traveling around these past few weeks, which is no excuse for not posting; let it suffice as feeble explanation. Dinners on my return nights have been mostly one-pot meals (the best option for these chilly days), some made in my Dutch oven, others in my wok, and many more in my crockpot.
Crockpots are the polyester pantsuits of the culinary world. Despite a surge in re-fashioning in the past few years, they have never been fashionable, despite their functionality, and they have all of the glamour of New Year’s Eve spent at the local Laundromat.
Thus it was with concerted effort that my sister and I thanked our parents for the twin crockpots we received years back. The accompanying recipe booklets further hindered our enthusiasm, Half of the recipe titles included the words “surprise” or “magic,” which conjured up images of eye of newt-toadstool stew.
We should have known our mother knew better. She looked beyond the corny pastel-bunny motif and saw instead a time-saving wonder-appliance for her graduate school daughters. And sure enough, once we put our gizmos to the test, our balking turned to believing.
My first foray into crockpot cooking was memorable for reasons extending beyond the dinner I produced. One bleak February morning, I loaded my pot with an assortment of beef and vegetables and dashed out the door into an arctic Indiana day. Ten hours later, I turned the knob to my apartment door, shaking from the cold and the nervous anticipation of discovering a gravy explosion on my kitchen walls and ceiling.
Far from disaster, my apartment was filled with the enticing fragrance of old-fashioned beef stew laden with sweet herbs and tender vegetables. The most unassuming of kitchen appliances had transformed my barren dwelling into the home-sweet-home in the space of a day. It has been true love ever since.
Here is the risotto recipe I made on Saturday night in the very same crockpot; it couldn’t be easier, and the flavors can be varied according to what’s on hand. I usually throw some leftover roast chicken or sausage in, but because I’d been away for a few days, no such leftovers were available. The vegetarian option was just as satisfying and stick-to-the-ribs good.
No-Stir Sundried Tomato Risotto
I find the sundried tomatoes in the oddest places in the supermarket; the produce department, the health food section, and adjacent marinara sauce to name a few locales. But sometimes I luck out and find them cozied up to the canned tomatoes, which seems the most logical place. Hence if they are not in place (a), in your market, proceed to place (b), (c), or (d); they're there, somewhere.
Still thinking about those sundroed tomatoes, blot off some of their oil before chopping; it will make them easier to chop, as well as control the amount of oil you’re adding.
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 and 1/4 cups raw Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 and 1/2 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
3/4 cup roughly chopped oil-packed sundried tomatoes
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Combine the rice & oil in the insert of th4 crock-pot to coat. Stir in the white wine, broth, and sundried tomatoes. Cook on HIGH for 2-3 hours (mine usually takes about 2 and 1/2 hours). Right before serving stir in the Parmesan cheese. Makes 4 generous servings. (Enjoy with a glass of the remaining wine).
Nutrition per Serving (1/4 of recipe):Calories 311; Fat 3.4g (poly 0.2g, mono 1.6g, sat 1.4g); Protein 7.7g; Cholesterol 3.1mg; Carbohydrate 67.3g; Fiber 4.1; Sodium 784mg)
(Note: I did the nutrition analysis using Diet Analysis Plus 7.0.1)