Tag Archives: slow-cooker

Spicy Italian Beef Sandwiches


In honor of the first night of football, I had to make a large piece of meat! I made The Pioneer Woman’s Hot & Spicy Italian Drip Beef. Her other sandwiches (portobello mushroom and steak) have not let me down.

I used the slow-cooker to braise my roast, because although it has cooled down a bit, it is not nearly cool enough to be football season!  I browned the meat in a pan first, but if I were to make this again, I would try skipping this step.

I served these with quick pickled cucumbers, which acted as both a vegetable and a topping.  Cole slaw or macaroni salad would be great too!

Spicy Italian Beef Sandwiches
(Adapted from The Pioneer Woman)

2 1/2 lbs. chuck roast
kosher salt
1 T vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 14 oz can crushed tomatoes
2 c beef stock
1 16 oz jar of peppers (I used a jar of green and red sweet peppers, which were still quite spicy)
1/2 jar pimientos

For the sandwiches:
provolone cheese

Rinse the chuck roast and pat dry. Season generously with salt and pepper. Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, then sear the roast on both sides.

Place the garlic, tomatoes, stock, peppers, pimientos, and seared beef into a slow-cooker.  Cook on the high setting for 4-5 hours (or low for 8-10 hours).

When the meat is tender, remove it from the sauce.

Pull the meat apart with forks or tongs, then place it back into the liquid.

Toast the rolls and butter lightly.  Top with meat and provolone cheese. Melt the cheese under the broiler.

Optional: You can top these with pepperoncinis (I used fresh ones so that they would be tart) and serve them with some of the liquid on the side for dipping.


Ropa Vieja


Ropa vieja is one of my favorite things to order at Cuban restaurants. It’s stewed, shredded beef in a tomato-y sauce served over rice. When I saw this version in Saveur, I had to try it.

It has been really warm in L.A. lately, so I started mine in a large skillet, then transferred it to the slow-cooker to simmer. If you want to simmer it on the stove, simmer it for 2-3 hours instead of 4, and start the process in a large dutch oven. I served this with white rice and black beans.

Ropa Vieja
Adapted from Saveur, April 2012

4 oz bacon, diced
1 1/2 lbs flank steak (cut into a few pieces so it can be handled easily)
kosher salt
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
1 Anaheim chili, thinly sliced
6 oz tomato paste
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1/2 c red wine
2 c beef stock
14-oz can crushed tomatoes
1/2 c sliced green olives
1/3 c sliced jarred pimientos
2 T capers
1/4 c cilantro, chopped

In a large skillet over medium heat, render the bacon fat until the bacon is crisp. Remove the bacon from the pan (transfer to slow-cooker, if using).

Season the flank steak with salt and pepper. Over medium-high heat, brown the steak in bacon fat on both sides, then remove it and place it in the slow-cooker.

Saute the onions and peppers in the remaining fat, until soft. Season with salt and pepper. Add the tomato paste, cumin, thyme, oregano, garlic, and bay leaf, cook for another 3 minutes. Add the wine to deglaze the pan.

Place the onion mixture in the slow-cooker with the beef and bacon. Add the crushed tomatoes and beef stock to the slow-cooker. Cook on High setting for 4 hours.

Remove the steak and shred the meat.

Return the shredded meat to the slow-cooker with the olives, pimientos, and capers. Cook for 30 more minutes. Garnish with cilantro and serve.


Slow-Cooker Turkey Meatballs


This is more of a method than a recipe. It would work for any of your favorite meatballs recipes, and it’s perfect for when you want a delicious pot of meatballs simmering when you get home from the office or when you don’t want to heat up the house with the oven and stove.

I usually bake my meatballs before simmering them, but in order to avoid turning on the oven, I put the meatballs into the sauce while raw.  The resulting texture was very light and tender. We ate these on meatballs subs and over pasta.

Slow-Cooker Turkey Meatballs

For the sauce:
28 oz can of plum tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 T butter
kosher salt
black pepper
8 leaves of basil

For the meatballs:
1 lb. ground turkey meat
2 eggs
1 T tomato paste
1/2 c bread crumbs
1/3 c grated parmesan
kosher salt
black pepper

Crush the tomatoes with your hands in the slow-cooker. Add the other sauce ingredients (except for the basil) plus 2 c of water to the slow-cooker. Cook on the high setting for 2 hours. Taste and season if necessary.

Combine the meatball ingredients in a mixing bowl, and roll into balls. Gently place the meatballs in the sauce. After they have been cooking for an hour or so, you can carefully stir the pot to redistribute the meatballs. Cook on the high setting for 2 hours.

Add the basil to the sauce a few minutes before serving. Serve with melted mozzarella on a roll or baguette, or over pasta with grated parmesan.

Super simple slow-cooker chili


Chili was one of the first things that my mom showed me how to make while I was in college.  It’s so simple, and can be modified any way that you like.

In my first post-college apartment, my parents gave me a slow-cooker, and chili was the first thing I tried to make with it.  It blew my mind!  I could leave the house while it cooked and let the flavors really develop, and the beans were much more tender.  Now I always make my chili in the slow-cooker. I usually eat it with rice, or try it with baked fries for a healthier version of my favorite food, chili cheese fries.

Slow-Cooker Chili

1 lb. ground sirloin
1 14 oz can of pinto beans, drained
1 14 oz can of kidney beans, drained
1 14 oz can of diced fire roasted tomatoes
1 chipotle in adobo
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp coriander
1 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp red chili flakes
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c water

Serve with any combination of the following:
tortilla chips
french fries
baked potato
finely chopped red onion
sliced green onion
grated cheddar cheese

Add all ingredients to slow-cooker. Cook on High setting for 4 hours or Low setting for 8 hours. Stir and break up the beef with a wooden spoon. Taste and add additional seasoning as necessary. I sometimes add a bit of hot sauce (Chipotle Tabasco is my favorite for chili) or barbeque sauce at this point.

Serve with any or all of the desired toppings.

Other simple chili variations:

  • Use ground turkey or pork instead of beef.
  • Use white beans, black beans, or garbanzo beans.
  • Add beer instead of water.
  • Add chocolate!  A handful of chocolate chips (or 1/4 c if you have big hands) add a little sweetness/richness to the chili.
  • Add more vegetables – Try corn, mushrooms, or bell peppers.
  • Use diced tomatoes with green chiles (instead of fire-roasted) and omit the chipotle in adobo, for a less smokey chili.

Spaghetti and turkey meatballs


Paco requested spaghetti and meatballs for his first post-baseball game meal of the season. I had planned to make something lighter, so I decided to compromise with turkey meatballs. I baked them in the oven and started the sauce on the stove. Then I put both the meatballs and the sauce into the slow-cooker on high, so that they could simmer together for a few hours while I went to watch part of the game.  It was amazing to come home to the smell of meatballs that have been simmering for hours!  You could also simmer them on the stove together for 30 minutes – 2 hours.

Spaghetti and Turkey Meatballs

For the meatballs:
1 1/4 lb ground turkey
1/2 c grated parmesan or pecorino romano
1/2 c Italian-style bread crumbs
1 T tomato paste
2 eggs
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 onion, finely chopped
kosher salt
black pepper
olive oil

For the sauce:
2 T olive oil
kosher salt
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
14 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 c tomato sauce
1 T tomato paste
1/2 tsp dried oregano
15 leaves of basil, roughly chopped

To serve:
spaghetti, prepared according to package directions
grated parmesan or parmesan or pecorino romano

To make the meatballs:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Drizzle olive oil over a baking sheet.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs, tomato paste, parmesan, bread crumbs, garlic, onion, salt, and pepper. Add the turkey meat, and combine with your hands. Do not overmix.

Roll the meatballs into 1-1/2 inch balls, then place on the baking sheet 1 inch apart. After you have formed all of the meatballs, roll them around a bit in the olive oil. Bake for 15 minutes.

To make the sauce:

Turn on the slow-cooker, using the High setting. In a medium-sized pot (or a large one if you are not going to use the slow-cooker), heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, and red pepper flakes, then season with salt. When the onions are soft, add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, and oregano. Bring to a simmer.

Pour the sauce into the heated slow-cooker. When the meatballs have finished baking, add the meatballs to the sauce. Cover and simmer in the slow-cooker for 3 hours. During the last 30 minutes, add the basil.

Serve over spaghetti with parmesan cheese.