I keep telling myself that I should really use my crockpot more often. A fully cooked, hot meal ready and waiting after a long chilly day? What’s not to like? Well, I’ve got a little problem. My days are very, very long. Like, usually 12 hours long from the time I leave for work until I get from the gym in the evening. And, I’m only cooking for two.
So what does this have to do with using my crockpot? Well, in case you haven’t experienced it for yourself, a crockpot can actually overcook if left too long. Heck, I even have a nifty timer on mine, which sets itself down to warm after the cooking time is up, but even that is too hot, leaving my food a burnt mess on the bottom of my crock. Yes, even when I use plenty of liquid. It’s terrible when I try to cook enough food just for the two of us – my slow cooker, at 5+ quarts, is just too big to handle food for two. With so much surface area exposed, I think there is just too much heat being generated. The only time I don’t have a problem is when my crockpot is full, like when I make a full batch of chili or a whole chicken. Other than that, it just hasn’t proven practical.
I was considering investing in a smaller crockpot, until I came across a tip that suggested using a smaller, covered casserole inside the crockpot to essentially make it smaller. Great! Except that I don’t have one that is the right size and oven-proof, just yet.
Anyway, I decided to go ahead and use my crockpot today, even without the small dish within a dish. Since we were home all day, doing work around the house, I knew I could at least keep an eye on and stick to the proper cooking time, without overdoing it. I made a spicy red curry dish with chicken and butternut squash – perfect for a fall evening. I served it with cauliflower-”rice”, and we both agreed, the flavors worked beautifully and the sauce was absolutely delicious. The six-hour-on-low cooking time was perfect; I’m sure that burning-on-the-bottom-of-the-crockpot happens in the other six hours I am usually not home. Hopefully, I will soon get my hands on the perfect sized, covered, oven-proof dish to use within my crockpot, for all-day-long cooking for two.
Crockpot Red Curry Chicken with Butternut Squash
Adapted from Williams Sonoma
1 cup diced onion (100gm)
1 red bell pepper, diced
1lb butternut squash, peeled and chopped (or substitute another winter squash)
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, about 5oz each
1/2-1 tsp each cinnamon, ginger, and cumin (I didn’t really measure, but I love my seasonings!)
salt & pepper
2 tsp red curry paste
2 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp fish sauce
juice from 1/2 lime
1 cup coconut milk (I use light coconut milk, but since it tends to be a bit bland, I add 1/2 tsp coconut extract as well)
1 cup chicken broth
1 tbsp flour or cornstarch
fresh basil or cilantro, for garnish
Place the onions, peppers, and squash in the bottom of the crockpot.
Cut the chicken into small pieces and toss with the cinnamon, ginger, cumin, salt and pepper. As I said, I did not measure, but I am pretty liberal with my seasonings. I would say, use a little less cinnamon than ginger and cumin. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat, and saute the chicken for a few minutes on each side, until browned.
Place the chicken in the crockpot. Combine the curry paste, garlic, fish sauce, lime juice, coconut milk, extract, and broth in a blender and process until smooth. Pour over the chicken and vegetables.
Cover and cook on low for 6 hours. Stir flour into 2 tbsp of water until no lumps remain and gently stir into the liquid in the crockpot. (I actually prefer to thicken with cornstarch, but I was all out.) Increase heat to high and cook for another 20 minutes to thicken. Garnish with basil or cilantro.
Servings Per Recipe: 2
Amount Per Serving
Total Fat: 9.1 g
Cholesterol: 82.2 mg
Sodium: 1,284.5 mg
Total Carbs: 48.6 g
Dietary Fiber: 9.4 g
Protein: 38.5 g