Nobody feels like cooking full meals the day after Thanksgiving, which is where leftovers come in. But you don't have to stick with the same old reheat-eat-repeat. By letting your slow cooker do most of the work for you, you can take those leftovers and transform them into brand new dishes with just a little bit of time and effort on your part. Here are three of my favorite recipes.
These sweet potatoes have just enough (read: plenty of) butter, heavy cream, and milk. Brown sugar and cinnamon play up the natural sweetness, but I also slip in a subtle ingredient that adds complexity: carrots.
Creamed kale is an easy side dish that deserves its place on your table all through the fall and winter. The only problem is, making it entirely on the stovetop takes up valuable space and time, especially around the holidays when both are at a premium. Letting your slow cooker do the work solves that problem.
Loaded with the flavors of both summer and fall, this lasagna features a garlicky mixture of eggplant, carrot, onion and prosciutto, along with a good dose of both Gruyère and mozzarella cheeses.
This no-fuss, foolproof oven-roasted tomato sauce is loaded with bold ingredients: salami, sherry vinegar, kalamata olives, capers, and a smashed anchovy, all tied together with olive oil and a touch of white wine. Its secret ingredient? A bit of maple syrup for sweetness. Then, it's tossed with al dente spaghetti noodles and showered with Pecorino and lemon zest.
Who can say no to tender, braised meat in a rich sauce flavored with wine and vegetables, not to mention that ultra-flavorful and tender marrow inside a shank? The slow cooker makes the whole thing pretty darned easy, while beef shanks make it a heck of a lot cheaper than veal.
It's important to build the flavors for this slow-cooked, Moroccan-inspired beef pot roast: we use a tomato braising liquid that's spiked with a lemony mint puree and ras-el-hanout, a Moroccan spice mixture. It's served with tart, dried cherry-specked Israeli couscous that's brightened with a touch of lemon zest and fresh parsley.
Rich chicken tortilla soup, made from slow-simmered chicken thighs, joins quintessential toppings—avocado, red onion, sour cream, cilantro, cheese, tortillas, limes and hot sauce—in this simple, sustaining slow-cooker meal. The broth gets both depth and brightness from chili powder, smoky chipotles, fire-roasted tomatoes, cumin, and a couple of secret ingredients: unsweetened cocoa powder and apple cider vinegar.
This slightly spicy meatloaf is flavored with ancho chili, sautéed jalapeños, onions, and garlic. Bloomed gelatin, chicken stock, and eggs, coupled with ground Saltine crackers, keep it moist, while a molten cheddar cheese core oozes out when you slice it open. Homemade chili sauce forms a burnished crust.
This shepherd's pie-inspired meatloaf is stuffed with a mixture of carrots and peas. Then it's slathered with Parmesan potatoes, dotted with butter and baked in the oven until browned. Meanwhile, a quick Stilton cheese sauce simmers on the stove, waiting to be served alongside.
Individual serving-sized chicken meatloaves baked in a cupcake pan house a secret melted blue cheese center. Celery and homemade wing sauce complete the mashup between two comfort classics. Our recipe uses a touch of gelatin to help keep the meatloaf tender and moist.
Inspired by a campfire hamburger tradition, this unusual take on meatloaf is loaded with onions, garlic, pickles, and mushrooms, then topped with a rich beer-cheese sauce.
Instead of getting charred and snappy like they would on the grill, these German-style garlic sausages wind up with a nice, evenly browned surface thanks to a hot oven and baste in beer, olive oil and red wine vinegar. An accompaniment of quick-pickled peppers and onions ups the ante -- and offers an excuse to use end-of-season produce.
Containing a mix of light and dark meat, country-style pork ribs braise well, yielding tender meat that both flavors and absorbs the liquid they cook in. With that in mind, I built mine from rustically cut nubs of carrot, celery, onion and garlic, plus tomato paste, all cooked in the same Dutch oven that's used to brown the pork. It's all flavored with cider, vinegar, and dijon mustard. After a time spent in a low oven, the whole shebang is served on top of creamy mashed potatoes.
A sacred Italian-American institution, Sunday gravy is a meat-forward, all-day-simmered meal, with as many variations as there are Italian families. My version incorporates flank steak braciole, Italian sausage, tender meatballs, and pork ribs along with onions, carrots, celery, and garlic, all simmered together in a rich red sauce. The slow cooker makes easy work of what once took hours of stove-side babysitting with a wooden spoon.
Homemade Italian sausage is formed into patties and stuffed with nuggets of mozzarella cheese. Then, the burgers are heavily pepper-crusted on the rims and finished with a dollop of creamy ricotta, red sauce, and fresh basil. Perhaps best of all, though, is the garnish of vinegar peppers that roast in the oven (or, alternately, cook in a tin right on the grill).
Assertively seasoned with garlic, oregano, pepper, and enough salt to form a crust, pernil—a Puerto Rican mainstay—lingers in the slow cooker for 18 hours until browned and fork-tender. It's served with vinegar-based pique criollo, a hot sauce made with peppers, garlic, pineapple and herbs.
A base of roasted red pepper cream sauce swaths pre-cooked, medium-sized pasta shells. I like the sauce smooth and silky, so I purée the roasted pepper mixture before adding a combination of heavy cream and half-and-half, along with three cheeses: ricotta, Fontina, and Asiago. Italian sausage, garlic, and onions, boost the sauce with extra flavor.
This insanely delicious sandwich requires a little more prep work than most but it is absolutely worth it: Filled with juicy, shredded beef short rib, sweet and tender caramelized onions, melted Gouda cheese, and a sharp mustard sauce, then tucked into griddled marbled rye bread, they're far more than just an easy snack. This is an indulgent meal unto itself.
In recognition of the transition from summer to fall, this dish takes a summertime staple—bratwurst—and turns it into a filling with rice for stuffed cabbage rolls. The rolls are then bathed in a bacon-and-beer-infused tomato sauce and baked until tender.
An easy fig jam, made on the stove, joins nutty Manchego cheese as the filling for simple but elegant stuffed chicken breasts. Finished in a port wine pan sauce with garlic, a touch of grainy mustard and heavy cream, the results are luxurious.
A fair question: who doesn't like jalapeno poppers? With that in mind, this dynamite chicken recipe offers a drool-worthy alternative to the average, grilled bird. The chicken is filled with a cream cheese and sour cream mix that's specked with canned, roasted jalapenos, garlic and Parmesan cheese. Then, it's wrapped in bacon and grilled over indirect heat for a smoky finish.
A simple yet flavorful mixture of chorizo, jalapeño, and onion serves as the filling for these pounded chicken breasts, which cook in an ultra-creamy, beer-based cheese sauce.
These plump chicken breasts are stuffed with an andouille-spiked rice and vegetable mixture, then topped with a creamy Creole shrimp sauce.
This Hungarian-inspired dish, part of a weeklong series focused on fun stuffed chicken breast recipes, centers around a lemony mushroom filling. The chicken is stuffed, seared, and then cooked in a rich, creamy paprika sauce.
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