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Slow Cooker Comfort Food

Judith Finlayson - February 12, 2010

Nothing says winter like warm, hearty comfort food. With a fix-it-and-forget-it twist on some old classics, these delicious recipes are certain to warm up the family while allowing you some extra time to curl up with a good book.

Down Home Chicken Gumbo
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 ounces fresh chorizo sausage, removed from casings
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 4 stalks celery, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cracked black peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 cup short-grain brown rice
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 pound skinless boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 cups sliced okra (1/4 inch)
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
  • finely chopped green onions, for garnish
In a skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add sausage, onions, and celery and stir until sausage is cooked through, about 7 minutes. Add garlic, Cajun seasoning to taste, salt, peppercorns, and bay leaf and stir for 1 minute. Add rice and toss until coated. Stir in tomato paste. Add tomatoes with juice and bring to a boil.

Transfer to slow cooker (4 to 5 quarts). Stir in stock and chicken. Cover and cook on low for 5 hours or on high for 2½ hours, until hot and bubbly. Stir in okra, bell pepper, and cayenne. Cover and cook on high for 20 minutes, until okra is tender. Remove and discard bay leaf. Garnish with green onions. Serves six.


Short Ribs with Horseradish Cream Ribs:

  • 4 to 5 pounds beef short ribs
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cracked black peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup cherry or grape juice
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
Horseradish Cream:
  • 3 tablespoons prepared horseradish
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or crème fraîche
Position broiler rack six inches from heat source. Broil ribs on both sides, turning once, for ten minutes per side. Drain on paper towels. Separate ribs if in strips and place in slow cooker.

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, and celery, and cook, while stirring, until softened (about 7 minutes). Add garlic, thyme, salt, peppercorns, and bay leaves and stir for 1 minute. Add flour and cook, while stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in tomato paste and juice and stir for 2 minutes. Stir in stock and bring to a boil.

Transfer vegetable mixture to stoneware. Cover and cook meat and vegetables on low for 8 to 10 hours or on high for 4 to 5 hours, until ribs are falling off the bone. Transfer ribs to a large serving dish and keep warm. Remove and discard bay leaves. Using an immersion blender, puree the sauce and adjust seasoning. Pour over short ribs.

Horseradish Cream: Meanwhile, in a small serving bowl, combine horseradish and sour cream or crème fraîche. Refrigerate for at least one hour to allow flavors to meld. Pass at the table, allowing guests to serve themselves. Serves six.


Hot Sausage Sandwiches

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cracked black peppercorns
  • 2-inch piece of cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth, optional
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 French baguette, cut into 4 pieces and split horizontally
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • roasted banana peppers, optional
In a skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add sausage, onion, celery, and carrot and cook, while stirring, until sausage is no longer pink, about 7 minutes. Add oregano, salt, peppercorns, and cinnamon stick and stir for one minute. Add both, if using, and bring to a boil for two minutes, scraping up brown bits from the bottom of pan. Stir in tomatoes.

Transfer to slow cooker stoneware. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or on high for 3 to 4 hours.

When ready to serve, preheat broiler. Place top halves of baguette on baking sheet and sprinkle liberally with mozzarella. Place under broiler until cheese melts and begins to brown. To serve, place one bottom half of baguette on each plate. Spoon sausage mixture over, garnish with hot peppers, if using, and top with grilled cheese half.


Adapted from Slow Cooker Comfort Food: 275 Soul-Satisfying Recipes by Judith Finlayson; Robert Rose, Inc. Available at amazon.com.

© Robert Rose, Inc.