Tag Archives: slow-cooker

Carnitas tacos: $1.40/serving

It’s been a very long time since I’ve found a pork roast for less than $3 a pound anywhere except Winco, but I happened to be walking by at the precise moment the Fred Meyer butcher came out with the markdown cart, and snatched this one up before anyone else could even glance at it. It’s not a fabulous deal, but it’s within budget. To celebrate, I’m breaking one of the tenet rules of the $35 a Week Plan: Don’t meat the centerpiece of the meal. This meal is pretty much all meat (save for the tortillas, pickled onions and cilantro), but since I only do it once or twice a year, I’m only slightly repentant. Besides, if you’re going to go all out with pork, carnitas is the way to do it.

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Bacon jam: $1.69/jar

If you’re concerned about the presence of what’s essentially a novelty condiment in the $35-a-week plan, rest assured this was a host gift for my father-in-law’s Easter dinner, à la the jars of custom barbecue sauce I made for Christmas. I wanted something that was complementary to the meal being served (barbecued ribs) yet also unique and inexpensive, so I brought a couple jars of this “jam” along with a large homemade boule. I’ve made bacon jam before (Sur La Table sells it for $9.95 a jar, so it’s not that far out of left field), and while I wasn’t 100% happy with how it turned out this time, no one seemed to notice or care, so I’m recommending a couple of different methods here based on your personal limits of time and patience. It’s great on bread, peanut butter sandwiches, pizza, crostini, biscuits, a spoon…you get the idea.

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Chinese chicken and ramen soup: 76 cents/serving

This is, admittedly, the first thing I’ve made in the slow cooker since November’s Malaysian beef curry that didn’t have me thinking, “meh.” I want to love my slow cooker, I really do, but anything cooked over four hours or so (with the exception of large cuts of beef or pork) just ends up tasting homogeneously, disappointingly bland. And if you’re only going to use a slow-cooker for four hours, that more or less defeats the purpose of using one in the first place, doesn’t it? Maybe this problem is due to my having a cheap Rival model, but buying a super-expensive slow cooker is just not something I ever plan on doing. Oh well. In any case, this is essentially glorified ramen, but the broth is phenomenal, the prep is simple, and it makes a ton.

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Malaysian beef curry: $2.11/serving

A word of warning: This dish (adapted from one in Bon Appetit) calls for a slow-cooker. Normally, I’m not a slow-cooker kinda gal. I bought a cheap-ish one a couple years ago to keep mashed potatoes warm during the frantic, stove-cluttering prep of Thanksgiving, and I’ll occasionally use it for stock if I’m in a hurry, but otherwise I find it pretty useless.

Back in Ye Olden Days of slow-cookers you could throw some stuff in the pot before you left for work, turn it to low, come home, and, eight or nine hours later, the original contents would be perfectly cooked. With my slow-cooker, the contents are boiling—BOILING!—within about three or four hours on low. An Internet search confirmed this is an extremely common problem, as most slow-cookers nowadays—if not all—aren’t really “slow” cookers at all thanks to FDA intervention over potentially unsafe food temperatures. It pretty much defeats the purpose of using one at all, especially for anything more delicate than huge chunks of beef. Thankfully, this dish involves huge chunks of beef, but the cooker still had to be plugged in at noon and unplugged promptly at 5 pm.

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