Saturday, January 15, 2011

Low and Slow

LabRat has a wonderful post about how the parts of the chicken that most people don't want to eat, the skin, bones, and thigh meat, make the best food.

I couldn't agree more.  The best food in our collective menu here in the U.S., such as chili, barbecue, chicken soup, are best made with the lowest cuts of meat.  What all of these have in common is that they started out as the food that poorer members of society made, and they are all cooked slowly.

A lot of people I know are hooked on food that is either processed until it's no longer directly related to its base ingredients, restaurant carryout or fast food, or things that can be whipped up in a few minutes.  Of the three, the last tastes the best, but foods that cook quickly tend to dry out unless loaded down with added fats or heavy sauces.

That's one of the reasons I love my crockpot.  I can take inexpensive meat, spices, and liquid and make a delicious, nutritious, moist meal while I'm at work.  The best food is cooked slow.

  • Take picked over chicken, turkey, duck, or whatever-poultry-hits-the-pot bones and spiced water, simmer for 8 hours in a crock pot, add some vegetables and you've got the best soup you've ever had.
  • Take some hamburger made from the least edible parts of the cow the government will allow on the market, add some spices, chilis, tomatoes, and beans (yes, I know, this is a religious statement), leave in the crockpot for a day, and you've got chili
  • Take the above, leave out the beans and change some of your spice combination, and you've got the best spaghetti sauce you've ever had.
  • Take the cheap parts of a cow or a pig, soak in a brine for a day or so, rub with a collection of your favorite spices, then smoke them for-freaking-ever with hardwood and your favorite honey, mustard, or tomato based sauce and you've got the food of the gods.
  • Put an inexpensive beef or pork roast in a crockpot with carrots, onions, garlic, and potatoes, add some liquid, and your dinner is waiting for when you get home.

All of this food is the same kind of cuisine your grandmothers made way back when.  Labor saving devices like ready made food, microwaves, and steamer bags are a heck of a lot more work than chopping up your favorite ingredients, throwing them in a pot with a bay leaf and some salt, and letting them simmer all day long while you do something else.

Many thanks to LabRat, Stingray, and everyone else who posts recipes for making good food on their sites!

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