Make the Most of Your Slow-Cooker This Season with Tips From Professional Chef Jeffrey Saad
Make the most of your slow-cooker this winter by braising, steaming, stewing, and more. Experiment with recipes that include the warming heat of hot chile peppers like this recipe for Slow-Cooker Chili with Jalapeño Corn Muffins or opt for something on the sweeter side like this recipe for Slow-Cooker Peanut Butter Fudge that will be an instant hit at any party.
No matter how little time you have to spend in the kitchen, simple recipes that offer the option to toss all the ingredients and go means that you can enjoy warm, healthy meals all winter long without it cutting into your busy schedule.
To help you get started in the kitchen, we asked Cooking Channel host Jeffrey Saad to give us his best advice and tips to help you make the most of your slow-cooker this season.
The Daily Meal: What are your favorite tips for fall and winter cooking?
Jeffrey Saad: Use seasonal veggies like butternut squash. For butternut squash soup, add chile powder and pear. By sautéing the pear with onion and squash, you get a caramelized natural sweetness in the soup.
I also suggest keeping canned beans handy! Nothing warms the soul and feeds the family quicker and more cost-efficiently with so much pleasure. I love to add a can of Bush’s Asian BBQ Beans to a hot skillet after sautéing small pieces of pork and veggies to create a quick Asian cuisine-inspired meal. Add a couple teaspoons of 5-spice (a single spice that you buy that is already made up of five different spices: cinnamon, star anise, fennel seeds, Szechuan peppercorns, and cloves) to take it up a notch.
How can people make the most of their crockpots this fall?
For extra color and flavor, sear the meat in your Crock-Pot (if the appliance is compatible) or in a pan first and then add it to the Crock-Pot with the rest of the ingredients.
The Crock-Pot is also the perfect tool for delicious homemade chicken stock. The key to great stock is low and slow. Add carrots, celery, onion, and water and turn on low to simmer for about 12 hours. To preserve the stock, boil to one quart to concentrate the flavor and freeze in ice cube trays.
Another favorite Crock-Pot tip of mine is to line the Crock-Pot with a banana leaf before adding pork, black beans (I prefer Bush’s Black Beans), orange juice, lime juice, chicken broth, and chili powder. The banana leaf adds a beautiful flavor and aroma as well as a “wow” factor. Place the Crock-Pot directly on a hot pad on the table with the banana leaf laying over the edges.
What are some of your favorite fall ingredients to cook with?
Butternut squash, cauliflower, and kale are at the top of my list.
I also suggest chopping cauliflower in small, random (roughly 1/4” pieces) and sautéing for three minutes in a non-stick skillet with olive oil. Add chile flakes for a pop of heat. Last, turn the heat off and squeeze in a little lemon juice and add to pasta with olive oil for a simple, delicious dish.
For a tasty fall soup, de-stem and chop large pieces of kale before sautéing over high heat with chopped garlic, olive oil, and lemon. Next, add two cans of cannellini beans (I prefer Bush’s Cannellini Beans), and a few cups of chicken broth for a great winter soup. Great texture, great flavor and good for you!
Do you have any secrets for making flavorful chili?
I love having a variety of textures and colors in my chili. A delicious twist is to add one can of Bush’s Cocina Latina Frijoles Negros Machacados Beans, which have chunky smashed black beans seasoned with poblano chiles, tomatoes, and a touch of bacon. For extra flavor, add toasted cumin, oregano, and garlic, and to take your white chicken chili up a notch, stir in a few spoonfuls of cilantro pesto. Bush’s Beans also offers a variety of chili beans, from Black Chili Beans to Great Northern Chili Beans, perfect for white chicken chili, making the chili-making process easy and just as flavorful.