By Chef Selwyn Richards
A slow cooker can be a great asset during the busy holiday season. You can make no-fuss meals that are easily transported to parties or potlucks, and you can have a dish ready ahead of time (or cooking while you’re getting ready) if you’re having people over.
You can even make holiday beverages in your slow cooker and serve with a ladle and cups. Here are some holiday recipes for your slow cooker.
- Chocolate Fondue
A holiday party is perfectly rounded out with a lovely fondue station. You can keep it warm in the slow cooker if it has a “warm” setting. If not, wrap the crock snugly in festive holiday towels to hold in heat. Makes 6 to 8 servings.
Break into pieces and place in your slow cooker:
* 8 squares semi-sweet baking chocolate (find this in the baking aisle of your grocery store)
* 4 squares sweet baking chocolate (also find this in the baking aisle)
* 3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
Turn slow cooker to High (do not cover) and stir as chocolate melts. Turn cooker to Low and stir in:
* 1/4 cup sugar
* 2 tablespoons kirsch (cherry brandy – optional)
Cover and cook on Low until the mixture simmers slightly. Then remove and serve with fresh fruit, cake squares, or banana chips.
- Mulled Cider
Set the cooker on Warm or Low and serve this with cups and a ladle right at the table or from the kitchen counter. Makes 8 to 10 servings.
In a cheesecloth bag, tie these spices:
* 2 cinnamon sticks
* 1 1/2 teaspoons whole cloves
* 1 teaspoon whole allspice
In your slow cooker, pour in:
* 2 quarts apple juice
* 1/2 cup frozen orange juice concentrate
* 1/2 cup brown sugar
Drop in the bag of spices, cover and cook on Low for 3 hours.
- Holiday Ham
Have holiday ham ready and waiting!
In your slow cooker, place:
* 1 spiral-cut ham, bone in (about 7 to 8 pounds)
Rub over ham:
* 1 cup brown sugar
Pour over ham:
* 1/2 cup maple syrup (the real thing)
* 2 cups unsweetened pineapple juice
Cover and cook on Low for 6 to 8 hours. During the last hour, baste the ham a bit with the juices forming in the pot. Remove the ham to a platter and let it sit about 15 minutes before carving.
- Simple Meatballs
These tangy meatballs can be served right from your slow cooker as well. Give guests small plates and toothpicks, and they can use a slotted spoon to scoop out the meatballs. Serves 8 to 10.
Heat 2 pounds of frozen, pre-cooked meatballs according to package directions. Then place them in your slow cooker. (You can also make your own meatballs, brown them in a skillet, drain, and place them in the slow cooker.)
In a bowl, mix together:
* 1 cup grape jelly (apple jelly also works)
* 2 cups chili sauce
If you like some zing, add:
* 1 teaspoon ground horseradish
Pour jelly mixture over meatballs, stir, and cover slow cooker. Cook on high for 1 to 2 hours.
~Chef Selwyn’s Cooking Tip~
Consider Making A Festive Bean Salad
Instead of cooking hot green beans, consider making a festive bean salad with red, green and yellow beans – there are many wonderful recipes on the net. Make it the day before, cover and chill in your refrigerator to marinade. Introduce it as “Christmas Bean Salad” and make it a tradition!
Selwyn Richards is an award-winning master chef. He is also the President and Executive Chef at The Art of Catering Inc. and is the author of “The Art of Cooking: Soul of The Caribbean”. Chef Selwyn can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone — (905) 619-1059.