08 January 2012


For some time now, I've had a secret hankering for a slow cooker, despite the fact that they scream "lazy" and "cream of mushroom soup" and "not real cooking". The idea of prepping something in the morning, leaving it all day, and coming home to a finished meal is what appealed to me, even though slicing and sweating onions is not my idea of 7:00am fun. Besides, who needs another appliance?

Well, I got one for Christmas. I poked through books, and memory, and the internet, and remember a particularly delicious and easy goulash that had once been in the Times. One of the distinctive things about that goulash - one of the reasons it stuck in my head - was that there was no browning of the meat. All of the ingredients were layered into the pan, and it was cooked on top of the stove, and it was wonderful.

I dug up that Transylvanian Goulash recipe on the Times website, and then stumbled upon a somewhat similar thing called Kapusta* Pork that actually was meant to be done in a slow cooker. Remember, I'm a slow cooker novice - I was looking for instruction. I kind of combined bits out of both recipes and ended up with something thoroughly delicious, if I may say so myself.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Pork Goulash**
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 big clove of garlic, chopped
  • 1-2 T. bacon fat or olive oil or butter
  • 3 lb boneless pork, in 1-2" chunks (I cut the meat off of a picnic shoulder)
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 cups cabbage, shredded (about a half a medium cabbage)
  • 1 1/2 cups of sauerkraut
  • 1 cup tomato puree
  • 2 T. sweet paprika
  • a 12 ounce bottle of beer (I used Sam Adams Winter Lager)
  • 1 tablespoon caraway seeds
Saute the onion in the bacon fat, in a frying pan. Add the garlic after a couple of minutes. When it looks and smells nice, scrape it into the bottom of the slow cooker.

Put about half of the pork on top of the onions, and add salt and pepper. Add the chopped cabbage. Add the remaining pork, and some more salt and pepper. Spread the sauerkraut on top and sprinkle over the caraway seeds.

Mix together the tomatoes, paprika and beer, and pour it all. Cover and cook 8 hours on high.

Serve on egg noodles, with a blob of sour cream on the side.

*Yes, I googled Kapusta. It's cabbage. However, according to Wikipedia, "it also is representative of eternal power." I noted, though, that the sentence about eternal power did not have an initial cap, leading me to a conspiracy theory that someone grammatically challenged was working his way through Wikipedia adding "it also is representative of eternal power" to every entry.

**Adapted from Linda Cifuentes and Joseph Wechsberg


Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I actually love the slow cooker--especially if I can prep everything the night before and then put it in come morning. I think it's perfect for pork because slow cooking is the best way to do it.

MemeGRL said...

My favorite pork recipe ever. It never makes it to the BBQ sauce. In honor of my friend Jody, whose husband went vegan so she can't make it anymore!

De said...

Bwah-ha-ha. You're on to me now, but it's too late. I'm already up to the Ws.

I have not utilized my slow cooker too much because many of the recipes are not "lazy" enough. I definitely want to dump in the ingredients and forget about it, not fuss around with browning, etc. However, my daughter is very gung-ho to get up early and make her own lunch so perhaps in the next year I can get her trained on some basic slow-cooker recipes. She actually made a pasta dish in it (I didn't want her handling boiling water) that wasn't great by adult standards, but the kids thought it was totally kapusta!

Rima said...

Ah, yes. The term "slow cooker" does smack a little of dry chicken breast and cream of mushroom, but I must say it's gotten a bit of a face life in recent years. I find that pork shoulder and brisket work best but it's also great for soups and chili.

Jocelyn said...

I'm a whore for what we in the Midwest call the crock pot. Actually, growing up in Montana, I always loved my dad's pork chops in--get this!--cream of mushroom soup done in the crock pot. Because I loved it as a kid, and because I miss him so, we make that easy dish at least once a month. If you can get over the cream of mushroom soup aspect, I'd recommend it: stick some pork chops in the slow cooker (as many as you want); pour a can of cream of mushroom soup over it. Leave all day. Come home. Pour a huge glass of wine. Serve pork chops over rice (all the better if you have a rice cooker, speaking of making things 12 hours ahead!).

Mental P Mama said...

I love my crock pot!!! Check out Skinny Crock Pot on facebook...they have wonderful recipes!

Anonymous said...

Definitely try the BLT Steak recipe for Braised short ribs. You have to brown them, and you need to reduce the sauce BUT SO WORTH IT.

amira said...

Crock pot screams lazy? I've only heard "convenient" and "godsend" coming out of it. Maybe it's just me.

Either way I love the crockpot; we've even named ours and I've a whole post devoted to it and my cooking pains, turned cooking gains thanks to --that's right, the almighty crockpot.

If you care for a read: http://anamiracanstory.com/2010/09/27/cooking-gains-the-sequel-to-cooking-pains/

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

I use my slow cooker all the time! In fact just yesterday I made a kind of Cuban beef stew. It's the best way to cook meat, in my opinion: get the fattiest piece out there and simmer it until it falls apart with a fork. De-lish.

The Third Rail said...

I got a slow cooker for my birthday and it has been awesome! It's allowed my family more homemade meals since I returned to teaching. Would love a recipe swap some day.

Janet said...

that sounds amazing! I bought a fresh ham hock instead of a smoked one for the New Years black eyed peas...and found a pretty amazing recipe for it using the slow cooker!

leanne said...

I don't have a slow cooker -- can't bring myself to buy one. I figure I have just enough time when I get home from work to put a decent meal on the table. Also, I have a small kitchen. And I can think of other gadgets I'd buy before a slow cooker (and yet still haven't bought these other gadgets either! Combo of the small kitchen and being cheap).

She Curmudgeon said...

Anything from Molly Steven's "All About Braising"-- any slow braise recipe, really-- can be cooked in a slow cooker on low if you double the time, I have found (I think she might even say so in her foreword). I don't skip the step of browning the meat/vegs before I dump everything in, though, because it's such a key flavor step. I usually cut the liquid by about a third, that or take out the liquid and reduce it a bit in a saucepan before serving, since the cooker makes the ingredients throw off more liquid than they would otherwise. (IDK why, someone email the Times! : ))

And Ina Garten's Chicken w/40 Cloves of Garlic from her Barefoot Contessa in Paris in the Cooker. Goodness.