Hello, and welcome to Five Weeknight Dishes. It’s no secret to anyone who knows me that I love my slow cooker. (I’ve used it so much that the temperature markings have worn off, and I’ve had to write over them with a Sharpie.) Slow cookers get a bad rap for many reasons, but, for a lot of busy home cooks, they are a lifesaver. The key is choosing your recipes wisely.
The complaint I hear most often is that they’re a “myth”: Many recipes require several steps, so they’re not convenient. My tip? Don’t make those recipes! Or do as I do and skip the searing and sautéing, and use jarred chopped garlic and frozen chopped onion. Take a cue from our recipe developer Sarah DiGregorio, and amplify flavors with a 1/2 teaspoon or so of garlic or onion powder.
If you’re still not convinced, that’s OK! The good news is that many of this week’s dishes can be made on the stovetop or in an electric pressure cooker. You do you.
Do you love the slow cooker? Do you hate it? Do you want more, or less? Let me know at [email protected]. Emily is back next week. It’s been a pleasure!
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Here are five dishes for the week.
This creamy Thai-influenced soup from Sarah DiGregorio is lovely served on its own or over a pile of rice. You can make it vegan, if your chile paste doesn’t have fish or shrimp in it, and adjust the thickness with some water. Since the spice level of chile paste can vary so much, start with a little and add more to taste. One reader used leftovers as a sauce for chicken the next day, which is a very smart move.
This pulled pork is based on a three-ingredient recipe — pork shoulder, Dr Pepper or cola, and barbecue sauce — that can be found all over Pinterest and food blogs. I asked the members of the NYT Cooking Facebook Community if they’d tried the recipe and liked it. There were strong opinions! I made it, tweaked it a little, and landed here. There are a couple more steps and ingredients, but it’s still a breeze to make. Sub coffee or beer for the soda, if you like.
This hearty meatless stew-soup from Sarah DiGregorio made with creamy white beans, chewy wheat berries, fennel and Parmesan is an absolute delight. Wheat berries take a long time to cook, so they’re ideal in the slow cooker, but whole-grain (not pearled) farro or spelt will work, too. Add them a bit later because they don’t require as much cooking and will get too soft. If you, like me, can never remember to soak your beans the night before, employ the quick-soak method or add four cans of cooked white beans about halfway through cooking time.
This is the recipe that made Sam Sifton fall in love with, um… let’s say reconsider, slow cookers. It’s inspired by another Pinterest-favorite, which is made with a three-pound beef chuck roast, a packet of powdered Ranch dressing mix, a packet of powdered au jus gravy mix, a stick of butter and a handful of pepperoncini peppers. Sam figured out a from-scratch approach, and readers went wild. It was our most popular recipe of 2016. (It also works with pork shoulder.)
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