Easy Slow Cooker Pork BBQ

Sometimes I make my own BBQ sauce, which (by the way) isn’t difficult. At all.

Easy Slow Cooker Pork BBQ

And yet, other times I use bottled BBQ sauce. Luckily it’s easy to find an organic, simple BBQ sauce (with pronounceable ingredients) these days at most grocery stores – even the “regular” chain stores like Safeway, not only specialty stores like Wegmans, Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s (all of which I love, but aren’t always convenient for everyone).

So, the other morning I had 10 extra minutes before we needed to leave for school and work – a miracle, I know. I also had a lovely pork roast sitting in my fridge from the weekend’s grocery shopping trip. And a bottle of organic BBQ sauce.

HELLO DINNER!

Easy Slow Cooker Pork BBQ

All I did was coat the pork roast with garlic powder, salt and pepper. Then I dumped about a quarter of the jarred BBQ sauce into the bottom of my slow cooker, set the roast on top (fat side up), then coated the roast with all of the remaining sauce, covered my slow cooker and set it for 9 hours on low.

That’s. It.

When I got home from work I used two forks to break the roast apart into pulled pork, and then I let it sit for a while in the BBQ sauce and juices while I prepared the other things to go along with it.

Easy Slow Cooker Pork BBQ: for those days when you need a “set it and forget it” recipe that can be thrown together in five minutes at 8 a.m.

Easy Slow Cooker Pork BBQ
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 2-3 pound pork roast
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 jar BBQ sauce, preferably organic
Instructions
  1. Pour ¼ of the BBQ sauce into the bottom of a slow cooker.
  2. Coat the entire pork roast with the garlic powder, salt and pepper. Set it into the slow cooker, fat side up. Pour the remaining BBQ sauce on top of the pork roast, making sure it's covered on all sides. Cover the slow cooker and set it on low for 9 hours.
  3. Use 2 forks to pull the pork apart and shred it, right in the slow cooker. Give the pulled pork a stir to evenly coat it with the BBQ sauce and juices. Let it sit while you make the rest of your dinner.
  4. Serve with buns or by itself.
Notes
If your slow cooker has an automatic "warm" setting after the cooking time is up, it's okay to let the pork roast sit for a while before you pull it apart (like if the 9 hours of cooking time is up before you get home from work).

 

 

5 Slow Cooker Dinner Recipes

5 Slow Cooker Dinner Recipes

Tomorrow is the BIG GAME, which means fans (and non-fans) will be watching a lot of football (and really great commercials) while feasting on all kinds of game-time goodies.

We’re keeping it small at our house: the husband, one friend, our basement man cave, and a slow cooker full of beef chili!

The kids and I will probably keep ourselves occupied elsewhere in the house (watching Harry Potter on ABC Family – I may have already set a reminder), flipping every now and again to the game. Maybe.

The great thing about slow cooker dinner recipes is that you can feed an army, and you can also be really flexible about when dinner’s served. If the guys don’t want to come up for dinner at 7 p.m. because it’s in the middle of a nail-biter end of a quarter, so be it. The chili can slowly  simmer away, waiting patiently, flavor developing fabulously the longer it goes.

Chili’s not the the only thing that’s great for the Big Game though! How about 5 slow cooker dinner recipes that are perfect for when you’re gathering a group?

5 Slow Cooker Dinner Recipes

Perfect for game day or any other day!

 

Whole Chicken in the Slow Cooker

1. Whole Chicken in the Slow Cooker

I love this recipe. It will never replace a true roast chicken, but it’s perfect for  a day where you’re running around, super busy, or just want to have the yummy-ness of slow cooked chicken without having to really do much of anything. For the Big Game, you could pull the meat off the bones (remember to save the bones and carcass for Overnight Slow Cooker Chicken Stock!), and make chicken salad, BBQ chicken sandwiches, or a variety of other meals to feed a crowd.

Slow Cooker Beef & Potatoes2. Slow Cooker Beef and Potatoes

Beef roasts are the best when you can find them on sale at the grocery store – I always stock up on a few and throw them into my deep freeze. Another great idea is to find a local farm with grass-fed organic cows, and buy a 1/4 cow directly from the farmer. They’ll butcher it and let you pick the cuts you want, plus you’re eating healthier and supporting local agriculture. This recipe is another that can feed an army if you pick the right size roast. If you don’t want to serve it with potatoes, leave them out and instead shred the beef when it’s cook. It would make a killer hot beef sandwich, especially with the au jus!

Slow Cooker Shrimp & Sausage Jambalaya3. Mediterranean Inspired Shrimp & Sausage Jambalaya

The fabulous flavor combo of sausage, shrimp and all the other goodies slowly cooking together for hours and hours is drool-worthy. This is also one of those dishes that gets better with time. I find the next day, leftovers trump the jambalaya from the night before. SO, you could make this today, and then just reheat it tomorrow for the Big Game. How easy would that be? Also, not an olive fan? Just leave them out – flavor will still be just as fabulous.

Slow Cooker Black Bean Chicken Chili4. Slow Cooker Black Bean Chicken Chili

Making chili with chicken instead of beef or pork is a great way to appeal to a broader set of palates, especially when folks don’t eat red meat (my brother-in-law) or pork (my parents – except for bacon, LOL). I happen to love beans in my chili, but my husband hates it. When I make this for him, he either has to pick them out, or I make it bean-less. Hrmph. Can’t please everyone!

Slow Cooker Chili - Texas Twist5. Slow Cooker Chili – Texas Twist

Speaking of chili, one of my favorite things to do is make slow cooker chili with a Texas twist – stew beef! After it cooks all day, the stew beef just falls apart with a spoon, it’s so tender. Super hearty, a mugful is enough to fill most bellies, which means one slow cooker full of chili can really feed an army of game watchers!

Chicken Stew

Chicken Stew in the Dutch Oven

It’s the new year, and I have a few goals to accomplish – none of which are impossible, nor difficult. I’m going to grow a container garden, try making more foods by hand (like cheese), and get back to exercising.

Easy, right?

I’ve found the hardest part about getting started is, well, starting. I was all set to hit the pavement with my iPhone and C25K app this weekend (yes, starting back at the beginning with W1D1), but then we had some snow blow in, followed by an ice storm.

Ice and snow make it not so easy to hit the pavement. I even told two friends I wished I had a dreadmill, even though most runners hate them. While I prefer running outside in my neighborhood, or in downtown Frederick, I would love the ability to run indoors on a treadmill if the weather wasn’t cooperating. I’m saving my pennies; one day I’ll have a treadmill. Mark my words.

Running is my favorite exercise. I love the simplicity of it. Shoes, running clothes and music. No gym membership, no classes – just the streets.

But since I couldn’t get out and start running, I decided to cook an all-day meal. That’s a logical alternative, right?

(Cut me some slack.)

A foodie friend of mine and fellow Ina Garten fan was talking the other day about a recipe he tried from Ina’s arsenal.

Tell me you’ve tried Ina’s chicken stew with biscuits. You HAVE to try her chicken stew.

Well, I hadn’t.

Omigod, Liza. It’s SO good. You must make it.

It doesn’t take much convincing for me to try a new recipe, especially from a friend who loves food and cooking as much as I do. I looked it up, and sure enough I had most of the ingredients on hand already.

But, being that it was a Saturday, and we had absolutely nothing to do (which included me not running), I decided to make a tweak. I decided that I’d try and make the chicken stew in my slow cooker.

Chicken Stew in the Slow Cooker

Not all ideas are perfect.

Good news is, I enjoy a challenge.

After four hours in the slow cooker on high, the chicken came out tender and falling off the bone. THAT was what I intended.

Chicken Stew in the Slow Cooker

I used the chicken I had in my freezer, which ended up being 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts and 4 bone-in chicken thighs. I also used 2 cups of my overnight slow cooker chicken stock and 2 diced onions. All of this simmered together for 4 hours; the scent throughout the house was knock-you-over good.

Even though the chicken practically fell apart from tenderness, I was still able to roughly dice it into large chunks.

Slow Cooker Chicken Stew

Then I had to stop.

The problem was that Ina’s recipe called for a bechamel base to the stew that is then incorporated with more chicken stock and followed by being baked in the oven with homemade biscuits on top.

I don’t claim to be a whiz with my slow cooker. I’m a hair more than mediocre, I’d say. I’m an average slow cooker user.

I couldn’t decide how in the world to translate the next steps of the recipe into something equally delicious cooked anywhere but stove-top and in the oven.

So I bailed on my slow cooker, and I brought out my trusty Dutch oven.

Chicken Stew in the Dutch Oven

I let the stew simmer for a while on the stove, and boy did it smell good. I loved the colors in Ina’s chicken stew, but my husband hates peas in any type of stew or soup (or really in anything EVER), so instead I used some green onions I had in the fridge. This actually worked out well because I didn’t have pearl onions like Ina uses in her recipe.

I love it when a plan comes together.

Then there’s the cream. I love cream. I prefer cream in recipes when it’s called for. I didn’t have cream on hand, so my chicken stew uses whole milk. I want to reiterate that I would have used cream if I’d have had it on hand. I’m not one to skimp on the milk fat, people!

The last step was to pour the chicken stew into a baking dish, and then after about 15 minutes in the oven, top it with homemade biscuits that cook right on top.

Chicken Stew

No. I didn’t use saffron in the recipe. The yellow is the horrid look of a picture that I’ve tried to correct via PicMonkey after taking the photo at night without proper studio lighting. I’m embarrassed to be sharing it. Close your eyes and pretend it’s actually been taken with beautiful natural light, mmmmmmkay? Thanks.

The flavor though? UH-may-zing. Just what you’d expect from lots of butter, whole milk, chicken that’s been slowly cooked all day. I could go on. The leftovers will be devoured this week at work.

I think it’s time for a jog.

Chicken Stew
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
A take on Ina Garten's "Chicken Stew with Biscuits"
Author:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 2 boneless/skinless chicken breasts
  • 4 bone-in chicken thighs (skin removed)
  • 3 large onions, diced
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 2 sticks salted butter
  • 2 cups + ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ + ¼ cup whole milk
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • ¼ cup freshly chopped Italian parsley
  • 2 green onions, diced
  • ½ cup freshly chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon of water
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
Instructions
  1. Put ⅔ of the chopped large onions into the bottom of your slow cooker. Place the chicken in one layer on top, season with 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper and the Italian seasoning. Pour 2 cups of chicken stop over top. Cook for 4 hours on high.
  2. Remove the chicken from the slow cooker and let it cool for 30 minutes. Remove the bones and discard them. Give the meat a rough chop so that you end up with large cubes of chicken. Set it aside.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  4. Melt 1 stick of butter in a Dutch oven (or heavy bottom stock pot) over medium-low heat. Pour the stock from the slow cooker and another 2 cups of chicken stock into a medium pot. Bring the chicken stock to a boil, then reduce heat to keep it simmering.
  5. Once the butter has melted in the Dutch oven, add the remaining ⅓ of the large onion and saute it for 10 to 15 minutes, or until it's translucent. Add ½ cup of flour and whisk the mixture together for another 2 minutes. Pour the warmed chicken stock in all at once, and continue whisking until the mixture thickens (about 2 minutes). Add 2 teaspoons of salt and ¼ cup of milk, and whisk it together. Whisk in the parsley, carrots and green onions and then stir in the chicken. Let the stew simmer for 10 minutes and then pour it into a 10x13" baking dish and bake it for 15 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, while the stew is baking, make the biscuits.
  7. Combine 2 cups of flour, baking powder, sea salt and sugar in the bowl of a mixer fit with a paddle attachment. Cut a stick of butter into small cubes and add it to the bowl. Mix the ingredients on medium speed until the butter is the size of peas. Add ¾ cup of milk and continue mixing on medium until the dough forms, and then turn the dough out onto a floured counter.
  8. Roll the dough out to ½" thick and use a 2-1/2" biscuit cutter (or a cup works fine too) to make 12 biscuits. Save any remaining dough in the fridge to use another time.
  9. Pull the chicken stew out of the oven and top it with the 12 biscuits, then put it back in the oven and continue cooking for 30 minutes or until the biscuits are golden on top and the stew is bubbly.

Overnight Slow Cooker Chicken Stock

Overnight Slow Cooker Chicken Stock

A couple months ago I discovered the beauty of cooking a whole chicken in the slow cooker. It certainly doesn’t replace a perfectly roasted chicken in the oven, with its crispy skin and juicy meat {drool}. But, it’s a fine alternative for a busy day when there’s no time in the evening to prep and cook a regular home cooked meal.

Plus, cooking a whole chicken this way is the perfect setup for overnight slow cooker chicken stock! The meat literally falls off the bones, leaving you with the perfect base of cooked down onions, juices and spices – and bones – to create an amazing slow cooked stock.

Overnight Slow Cooker Chicken Stock Ingredients

That’s right. Homemade chicken stock made right in the comfort of your own home, with the ease of a slow cooker while you’re sleeping. Credit (once again) goes to 100 Days of Real Food for the inspiration and idea!

Don’t want to slow cook a whole chicken first? No worries. A leftover carcass from an oven-roasted chicken (I freeze mine after roasting a chicken in the oven), or baking a package of inexpensive chicken drumsticks, can give you the perfect bone base too!

All you do next is add a fresh halved onion, carrots, celery, some fresh or dried herbs (whatever you have on hand), lots of salt and enough water to fill the slow cooker to within an inch of the top. No carrots or celery on hand? Doesn’t matter. I’ve made this with only some onion and dried herbs, and it still turned out better than store-bought.

Then you cook the stock on low for 10-12 hours, while you’re sleeping.

Warning: the scent from the overnight slow cooker chicken stock wafting through the house in the morning will make you want to leap out of bed and dance a jig – it’s unreal.

Once it’s done, all that’s left is letting it cool and then packaging it up to freeze or store fresh. I usually keep 2-3 cups in the refrigerator in a Mason jar, and then I freeze the remainder in 2-cup portions in zip-top freezer bags laid flat so that they stack.

You’ll never go back to the store-bought stock!

Overnight Slow Cooker Chicken Stock
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Adapted from 100 Days of Real Food's recipe for Overnight Chicken Stock in the Crock Pot.
Author:
Ingredients
  • Bones, skin, and scrumples left over from a roast chicken
  • 1 large onion, halved (it's fine to leave the skin on!)
  • 2 carrots, rough chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, rough chopped
  • 1 handful fresh parsley (or a couple tablespoons of dried herbs)
  • 2 tablespoons sea salt
  • 12+ cups water
Instructions
  1. Throw all the ingredients into a large slow cooker, and set it to cook on low for 10-12 hours.
  2. Strain the stock into a large bowl and let it cool in the fridge. Discard all the pieces of bone and vegetables.
  3. Once cool, skim the fat off the top of the stock, and then freeze in 2-cup portions in zip-top freezer bags. Tip: lay the bags flat while freezing so they stack easily.
  4. Makes 12 to 18 cups of chicken stock depending on the size of your slow cooker.

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