Dave and I got a slow cooker a while ago, and finally used it last weekend. I'm delighted by the idea of popping in a few ingredients, going to work, and coming home to a tender, comforting meal that cooked itself. Don't get me wrong--I love cooking complicated things, but there's a time for that and Monday night ain't it.
We searched around for a recipe--it being our first time, we didn't want to experiment--and settled on something called "Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic." It was essentially that--a whole chicken, forty cloves of garlic, and some sprigs of rosemary, some bits of sage, thyme, and parsley. (It was only when we went to write down the grocery list that it occurred to us that these particular herbs would be very easy to remember). We popped it all in, and spent the whole day sniffing the air and trying to stop ourselves from popping the lid to see what on earth was going on in there. It smelled heavenly.
It tasted--not so much.
Let me start of by saying that our choice of "Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic" was no accident--we didn't misread it or anything. I love garlic. I could eat a whole head of garlic in about five minutes. (Insert your preferred joke about my love for garlic versus my love for vampires here). Forty whole cloves! Heaven in a slow cooker! Only not. The garlic was inedible. It was vomitous. I never thought I could feel that way about garlic, but the parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme stormed all that garlic like a battlefield and overwhelmed it and made it rancid. The chicken itself was probably too tender--I think slow cookers are better for beef and lamb, yes? But we try to be healthier than that....sigh.
I am not deterred. The slow cooker will not vanish into that place where ice cream makers, shave ice makers, bread makers, and panini grills go to die. I hold true to my dream of dinner-when-I-get-home-without-the-use-of-a-takeout-menu. I just need to find a recipe I can trust, and it doesn't seem like Nigella Lawson or Jamie Oliver are particularly fond of their slow cookers.
We have a lot of parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme left. I am not using them all four together, not ever. Not even for tomorrow night's dinner, despite the fact that I believe those are key ingredients for a love potion? That may be so, but then a love potion's main purpose is probably not tasting good. You've got to wonder what went into the theory behind the Scarborough Fair Chicken--garlic to repel, and PSRT to entice? I never thought a slow-cooked meal could be a tease....
Did you use fresh herbs or dried?
In a slow cooker, fresh herbs can often lose their flavor and do weird things, if left in their for the whole period. If you're using fresh herbs, they should only be added towards the end of the cooking time. Same thing with pasta and rice, as well, btw; they soggify otherwise.
Dried herbs are actually better for a slow cooker, since I believe they slowly rehydrate with the liquid.
And there was liquid in there, right? There needs to be some small amount of liquid in the slow cooker too. =)
The recipe called for fresh herbs! But yeah, clearly not the way to go.
Pot roast is always a winner,
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