I have always been a reluctant crock-potter. Partly because of the fare my mother produced in hers, when I was a child. My mother and I have very different styles of cooking and preferences in food. By far my tastes are more complex! I am also more willing to put in more effort. Don't get my wrong. Mum is an excellent cook. She just doesn't enjoy it, and isn't motivated to do more than necessary. Also behind my crockpot reluctance is having produced some less than wonderful results.
My crockpot is as old as the hills, as you can see from the image below, which I found on Gumtree. It was advertised as "retro". Well, I'm not that old, but I have been married 26 years and this thing was a wedding gift. It's not had that much of a workout and still works exactly as it did when we got it. Mum insists the old crockpots were the best and not to get rid of it. I've been a little more dubious.
Despite all of my reluctance and not-so-great experiences, which have included dry, stringy meat, I decided to give that thing another whirl. I have Wednesday's off, so I figured that would be a good day to experiment, since I'm home to watch over it. So, into that pot went my Mum's minestrone, minus the ham hock and beans. I ended up having it on high all day, and it simmered very gently the whole time. I turned it on low for a little bit, but everything just stopped moving and sank to the bottom. I'm wondering whether 'low' is really just for keeping things warm, more than cooking things. The last time I left something on low for 10 hours the carrots were still a little crunchy and the meat wasn't that tender.
An hour before I served dinner I threw in a few handfuls of risoni pasta and by the time we were ready to eat it was perfect.
That soup was the best thing I've cooked in the crockpot for years. This coming week I'm going to try a rosemary balsamic chicken recipe and see how we go. It was beautiful in the oven, so it had better live up to our high expectations!
Finely chop and saute an onion and 2 cloves of garlic, and then place in the crockpot, which is set on high.
Chop up into a fine dice:
3 celery stalks
Throw into crockpot
Also add a tin of chopped tomatoes, Italian herbs and 1.5 litres water.
Set the crockpot to high and let it simmer for the day. An hour before cooking add 3 handfuls of risoni pasta and cook for another hour. You'll need to stir every now and then to make sure the pasta doesn't catch on the bottom. You'll want to add salt (or not) to taste, depending on how you cook.
Serve with warm crusty rolls.