During the winter months I like to break out the crockpot at least once a week. For those that think the crockpot is a way to quicker dinners, think again. Yes, it is helpful in terms of allowing you to have a meal that has cooked/braised/baked/whatever all day in the middle of the week. But for a really good crockpot meal it takes some preparation.
My recipe book of choice is The Slow Cooker Ready and Waiting Cookbook: 160 Sumptuous Meals that Cook Themselves. The premise of the book is that if you are willing to do a little preparation upfront (sauteeing, browning, broiling) you will be rewarded by flavorful meals. This isn't your mother's "throw a can of cream of mushroom soup, stew meat and vegetables in and hope for the best" kind of book. This is a "most recipes take at least 30 minutes of prep work before you can leave for the morning" kind of book. But let me tell you, for the most part the pre-work is worth the result.
Last night, however, was an exception. I tried a new recipe that I had high hopes for: Hill Country Ribs. This recipe quite simply requires broiling the country style ribs till brown (about 10 minutes) and tossing them in the crockpot with your favorite barbecue sauce, cook on ow for 5 to 6 hours and then enjoy. Easy enough, but I put the ribs in too early and by the time I took them out they had fallen off the bones and the the sauce had developed a bit of a bitter taste from cooking too long.
I served the rib meat with oven roasted sliced potatoes and sautéed spinach. I can honestly say the best part of the meal, at least for me, was the spinach.
The other problem last night was that the Js had planned to go swimming, but when they arrived at the AFC they found out there was a swim meet, so they got home about an hour earlier than I expected and I was just prepping the potatoes to put in the oven. So I got a little flustered and the potatoes, instead of coming out with a nice crispy exterior and warm fluffy interior, were sort of floppy and not at all crunchy. They were cooked through, but just not to the yummy potato perfection that I've achieved before.
So, all in all...not so great. Big J said it was "okay," which means it's a meal I won't be repeating. I'll save the ribs for a Sunday barbecue.