If you don't own one, go and buy or order one right now. I'm not even kidding. They don't cost more than $30 and they accomplish two amazing things:
1) They do all the actual cooking for you while you're at work - all you do is throw ingredients in and turn it on. It's also nearly impossible to burn anything in a crockpot, so no worries there.
2) They cook things at a very low temperature for a very long time - delicate flavors are preserved and overall the flavor of a dish has hours to develop.
This allows busy people to make amazing things to eat without dedicating more than 15 minutes in the kitchen. It also allows said busy people to cut down on all the salt and fat and preservatives they would otherwise be dragooned into eating from prepared foods. I tend to view crockpot-type foods as more seasonal for fall and winter (e.g. roasts, hearty stews), but there's no reason not to haul out this ceramic wonder May through August. Here's a super fast, amazing technique for pot roast that I developed in medical school and perfected for busy service months.
- A 3-5 pound beef round or chuck roast.
- Two large onions, cut into 1/4 inch thick rounds or half-rounds.
- Two cloves of garlic, smashed.
- Whole seasonal fresh herbs (I like sage or rosemary in the colder months).
- Coarse salt and cracked black pepper to taste.
Ok, this is really, really easy. Put the onions and garlic in the bottom of the crock pot in the morning before you leave for work (you can cut everything up the night before, if you're not up on your knife skills). Rub the roast with salt and pepper and plop it down on top of the onions. I find that if there's a fatty side, putting that up works best. Throw your herbs on top. Cover and turn on low. (In the past, I've tried turning it on high for an hour and then turning it down: This makes no difference). Go to work. Come home to find a tender, flavorful roast sitting in a ton of jus. You will have leftovers (it makes an awesome sandwich with horseradish sauce). I store it in a tupperware with the jus in it, this will keep it from drying out, and you can just microwave the whole thing to re-live your home-cook-rock-star dinner on another late night later that week.
I will try to post more often, I have some pretty good material lined up for November.