Go Slow, Save Dough

   By ChefErin  Jan 15, 2010

Fall and winter are the perfect time to try a little Slow Food.  The Slow Food Movement originated in Italy in the mid 1980’s as kind of rebellion against fast food.  Slow food is food prepared the old fashioned way, slowly - a meal made with care, attention to detail and tradition. 

One slow food cooking method is braising ? browning larger pieces of meat and then cooking them in a small amount of liquid over low heat.  Remember mom’s pot roast?  That’s braising.

Stewing is another wonderful slow food method.  Stewing is very similar to braising but is typically associated with smaller pieces of meat and requires more liquid.  

One of the nicest things about braising or stewing is that dishes take a little preparation in the beginning then you more or less forget about them for several hours and dinner’s ready. On top of that, some of the less expensive cuts of meat work best when cooked slowly. I love using pork shoulder, beef short ribs, and chicken thighs, in particular.  

You can take a cue from the Slow Food Movement to create belly-warming, economical dinners. The results are mouthwatering. Here are some ways for you to try them.  

Chile Verde ? Mexican Green Chile Stew

Brown ¾ pound of pork shoulder cubes and some diced onion in a little oil.  Add a clove of minced garlic, 1 teaspoon of ground cumin, 7 oz can of green chiles, 28 oz can of diced tomatoes, ½ cup dry red wine or beef broth, and simmer over low heat for about three hours. When the pork is fork-tender, it’s done. Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with rice and tortillas.

Braised Short Ribs

Lightly dredge beef short ribs in flour seasoned with salt and pepper.  Heat a small amount of oil in a heavy pan or Dutch oven.  Sear the meat on all sides. Remove from the pan.  Add ½ cup sliced shallots and sauté until translucent, about 3 to 5 minutes.  Return the ribs to the pan and add enough red wine or beef broth to the pan to come about halfway up the sides of the meat.  Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and simmer over low heat for 5 to 6 hours. The meat should be tender and falling off the bone.  Serve with roasted garlic mashed potatoes.

Chicken Thighs with Olives and Tomatoes

Season 1 pound of chicken thighs with salt and pepper.  Heat a small amount of olive oil in a heavy pan.  Brown the chicken on all sides.  Add ½ cup white wine to deglaze the pan.  Then stir in a 28 oz can of diced tomatoes, two cloves of minced garlic, ½ cup sliced green olives and a tablespoon of dried parsley.  Add a little crushed red pepper if you like spice.  Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat.  Simmer covered for 1 hour.  Serve with noodles or rice.

What’s your favorite slow food?


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rileypark by rileypark | Glendora , CA
Apr 03, 2010

I recently tried BBQ ribs in the slow cooker, and now I'm hooked. It's so easy and they come out great. Maybe not as great as putting them on the grill, but soo much easier. Just throw ribs in the cooker, top with your favorite BBQ sauce and voila! Another plus...the kids loved it!

JEM4612 by JEM4612 | HOFFMAN EST, IL
Jan 29, 2010

The recipes sound good! Not a fan of chicken thighs, but I want to try the other ones. I would also love some vegetarian slow cooking recipes as beans and veggies are cheaper than meat.

pickles1974 by pickles1974 | woodhaven, MI
Jan 28, 2010

frugalmomjen your recipe sounds delicious! I'm going to have to try that one! My mother in law had us over for dinner the other day. She made ribs in the crock pot and to my surprise...they were the BEST I've ever had! She puts them in the crock pot and pours a can or 2 of beer over them and lets them cook 8 hours. then puts sweet baby rays on them and bakes them at 500 for 10-15 minutes and that is it!! they really were amazing! Another great way to tenderize tough cuts of beef is to let them sit in vinigar for awhile. I know that it sounds bad but it works and tastes great!

msfriendly by msfriendly | MONROE, WI
Jan 24, 2010

Slow cooking is great for cheaper, tougher meats...it really helps tenderize them. So economical!

puravida by puravida | CARY, NC
Jan 22, 2010

I LOVE cooking lamb shanks. They are hard to find in my area, but getting a little more popular. With a good Dutch oven (Le Creuset is pricy, but awesome!), I have never had a bad result. Brown them first, add some veggies (tomatoes, carrots, onions) and spices, and put the Dutch oven in the oven for a few hours (or leave it simmering on the stove over low heat). WONDERFUL! And everyone is always impressed, but it's actually pretty easy! Some good recipe links from Epicurious.com: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Braised-Lamb-Shanks-with-Caramelized-Onions-and-Shallots-1197 http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Braised-Lamb-Shanks-with-Fennel-Tomatoes-Turnips-and-Carrots-5125 http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Braised-Lamb-Shanks-with-Coriander-Fennel-and-Star-Anise-234136

ChefErin by ChefErin | SEATTLE, WA
Jan 22, 2010

ajmorrison - a good suggestion! I love sauerkraut and pork too. It's our New Year's Day good luck food. I stud the pork shoulder roast with garlic slivers, carraway seeds, marjoram, salt, and pepper, and place it in a crock pot or dutch oven on a bed of sliced onions moistened with stock or wine. I drain my sauerkraut too but add a little apple juice to soften the brine. Serve it with some mashed potatoes and I'm a happy girl! - Chef Erin

ajmorrison by ajmorrison | Sheppton, PA
Jan 22, 2010

These recipes sound so fabulous. I have to try all of them. My fallback is Pork and Sauerkraut in the crockpot. I throw the pork roast in with a can of cream of asparagus soup a bag of sauerkraut (drained), salt, pepper and garlic powder. I then put the crockpot low and let it cook all day. We serve it with mashed potatoes and creamed corn. So easy! I prefer a boneless pork roast but anything works.

FrugalMomJenn by FrugalMomJenn | Hamburg, NJ
Jan 19, 2010

I have a recipe similar to your Chile Verde, so I think you're going to love it! Chicken Tortilla Stew 4 chicken breasts 15 oz can black beans, undrained 15 oz stewed tomatoes 1 cup salsa 4 oz can chopped green chilies 14.5 oz can tomato sauce Combine everything in slow cooker for 8 hours on low. Take out chicken, shred, then stir back into stew. Put tortilla chips in a bowl, ladle stew over them and garnish with shredded cheese and sour cream on top. So wonderful on a cold night!

pjclayton57 by pjclayton57 | Oceanport, NJ
Jan 19, 2010

My fav slow cooked item is spare ribs...I slow roast them for hours on end in the oven and then throw them onto the grill with my favorite slathering concoction to finish off! MMMMMMM good!

hypnicjerk by hypnicjerk | Seattle, WA
Jan 18, 2010

OMG! The Chile Verde ?? Mexican Green Chile Stew is incredible! Next I'm going to try the Braised Short Ribs! Updates to follow. Thank you so much for all of these great ideas.

ChefErin by ChefErin | SEATTLE, WA
Jan 18, 2010

By the way, each of the recipes above lend themselves perfectly to crock pots and slow cookers. The meats are very forgiving and can go all day on the low temperature setting. - Chef Erin