I have been wanting to use my slow cooker more as I have this idea that making things in it will take less time. You may recall that I bought a clearance Christams light timer so that I could have the slow cooker turn on while I was at work. A colleague wasted no time in pointing out to me that I probably wouldn't want meat sitting out on my counter for half the day. Touche. Back to square one.
America's Test Kitchen Slow Cooker Revolution has been on my list for a while so I was happy when it came up on my library queue.
Wowsas there is a lot of stuff that you can make in a slow cooker! I have been intrigued by slow cooker lasagna so yesterday I made the Sausage Lasagna (p. 234) for dinner.
1. Easy ingredient list
3. Did not make an entire 9x13 pan. (In a household of 2 people, you can get sick of eating lasagna real fast with an entire 9x13 pan of it. For this reason, I try to make 2 smaller lasagnas and freeze one if I make it.)
4. Easy clean up - the recipe calls for lining your slow cooker in aluminum foil.
1. Does not save time - prep time took me as long (or longer) as regular lasagna since the recipe calls for boiling the noodles until al dente, rinsing them in cold water and then spreading them out on kitchen towels to dry. Yesterday was my day off but of course I had millions of things to get done so if you would have walked into my house at about 10 AM yesterday morning you would have seen one whole counter of noodles drying and me multitasking: drinking coffee, feeding maggie and preping the rest of ingredients. I'm pretty sure I didn't give my daughter a case of salmonella by wiping her face with the same towel that I wiped my raw egg laden hands on...
So, yes the pros outnumber the cons in this instance, however, saving time is woth like 10 points so cons win. I don't think I'll be making slow cooker lasagna again.
Next up: Chicken Curry in a Hurry!
For those of you who want to take a stab at it, here is the recipe:
Source: Slow Cooker Revolution
8 curly edged lasagna noodles broken in half
15 oz ricotta cheese
1 1/4 cups parmesan cheese
1/2 cup minced fresh basil
1 large egg
1 (24 oz) jar tomato sauce (the test kitchen favorite is Bertolli Tomato and Basil Sauce)
1 pound Italian sausage, casings removed
4 cups shredde mozzarella
1. Line slow cooker in aluminum foil coallar, then line with foil sling and coat with vegetable spray. Bring 4 qts water to boil on stove. Add broken lasagna noodles and cook until al dente. Drain noodles, rinse under cold water until cool, then spread out in single layer over clean kitchen towels and let dry. (Do not use paper towels - they will stick to noodles)
2. In bowl, mix ricotta, 1 cup Parmesan, basil, egg salt and pepper together. Spread 1/2 cup tomato sauce into prepared slow cooker.
3. Arrange 4 lasagna noodle pieces in slow cooker (they may overlap). Dollop 9 rounded tablespoons of ricotta mixture over noodles. Pinch off one-third of suasge into tablespoon sized pieces and drop over ricotta. Sprinkle with a cup of mozzarella, then spoon 1/2 cup sauce over top. Repeat layering of noodles, ricotta, mozzarella, and sauce twice more.
4. For final layer, arrange remaining 4 noodles in slow cooker, top with remaining suace and sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and parmesan cheeses. Cover and cook until lasagna is heated through - about 4 hours on low.
5. Let lasagna cool for 20 minutes. Using sling, transfer lasagna to platter and serve.