It’s almost summer. Sunny days at the pool, balmy nights…I mean, it’s practically synonymous with a hearty stew prepared in a slow cooker, right?
Okay, okay. I know. TOTAL OPPOSITES, but let me tell you why I prefer using my slow cooker in the summer more than any other season. First off, using a slow cooker keeps my kitchen nice and cool in the evenings, but more importantly, it frees up time to play outside with the kiddos. With the extended light in the evenings, my kids love to play outside with the neighborhood children during the hours of 5-7pm. Unfortunately, D doesn’t get home until the end of that time frame, so if I’m cooped up in the kitchen cooking dinner, my poor kids are forced to stay inside. Wito looks like a pathetic dog at times, his face pressed up to the window, lightly whimpering. It’s pitiful, really.
Cooking with a slow cooker a few nights a week is the perfect solution for my family. With all the prep work finished in the morning, I am free as a bird in the evenings. We love making barbecue chicken, carnitas, beans, chili…tons of great dishes that are delicious in the summer.
My current favorite is this recipe for pork and beans, and it is downright delicious. Seriously, this dish will rid any correlation you might have with pork and beans and that nasty Hormel canned stuff. SO MUCH FLAVOR.
Fair warning, though. This is not a recipe that involves throwing everything in a crockpot, pressing a button, and walking away. There is a fair amount of chopping, spice-rubbing, and sauteing, but you won’t remember a minute of it once you taste a spoonful of this. Trust me on this one.
Slow Cooker Pork and Beans
2 bacon slices
2 pounds pork ribeye roast, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 tablespoon paprika
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
2 15-ounce cans great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
1 white onion, cut into small chunks
2 carrots, peeled and cut into ½ inch chunks
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
 Cook the bacon in a large deep skillet over medium heat. Remove the cooked bacon to a paper-towel lined plate. In a small bowl, mix the salt, paprika, brown sugar, chile powder and cumin. Rub the spice mixture on the pork and brown the pork in the bacon fat and transfer the pork to a slow cooker. Add the beans and bacon and toss to combine.
 Add the onion, carrots and celery to the skillet and sauté for 4 minutes, stirring often, adding any extra spice rub you have. Add the flour.
 Add the chicken broth and simmer until slightly thickened, stirring often. Stir in the barbecue sauce and tomatoes and pour into the slow cooker. Stir to combine. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.
Any slow cooker recipes that you love during the summer? I’d love to add a few to my arsenal.
AliMay 23, 2011 at 6:08 am
whoorlie did a food post! hurrah :D
I love the slow cooker but I just never think to use it. Like you said it is perfect for summer when you don’t want to heat up the house with the oven. Your recipe sounds yummy.
CaleeMay 23, 2011 at 6:18 am
I’m all about the slow cooker in the summer too! Favorites include– BBQ beef (stew beef in water, add BBQ sauce at end after shredding) and roast chicken. That’s right, you can put a whole chicken in the cooker, no water, and it will cook perfectly. Spice it however you like!
KatrinaMay 23, 2011 at 7:30 am
Ooo, could we have the recipes for those carnitas and bbq chicken? I normally don’t think of the slow cooker as a summer thing, but maybe I’ll have to change my mind. My absolute all-time favorite slow cooker recipe is Smitten Kitchen’s Tangy Brisket. So. Good. http://smittenkitchen.com/2010/04/tangy-spiced-brisket/
DarceyMay 23, 2011 at 7:53 am
I love my slow cooker for the same reason!
I use it a lot in the summer for bbq pork sandwiches — great for a party! Throw a 3lb pork roast/shoulder in the slow cooker with a couple bottles of your favorite beer (this is the one time I prefer to use a darker beer) and a sliced red onion. Cook on low for 6-8 hours, then remove and shred the meat. Put in an oven-proof dish with your favorite bbq sauce, then bake until the ends start to caramelize (usually 15-20 min at 350) and serve on fresh buns with a vinegar-based coleslaw. Yummy!
marMay 23, 2011 at 9:28 am
I am with you 100% – we have no A/C, which means forget about turning on the oven in July or August!
My current fave 2 recipes are sort of variations on each other, and my favorite part is that you use FROZEN boneless chicken breasts in them. Yes, FROZEN. As in – you don’t have to remember to take them out of the freezer ahead of time!!!!! Genius, right?
You can google them, I’m sure, but it goes basically like this. I have a gigantic crockpot, and I like having left overs of this, so my recipe is big, but you can adjust in any way you like – it’s hard to do it wrong.
Mexican chicken – dump 1 bag (16 oz) of frozen corn in crockpot, arrange 7-8 frozen boneless chicken breasts over top. Sprinkle one package of taco seasoning over top, then dump one can of rinsed black beans over top. Then add either one jar of salsa or if by any chance you don’t have taco seasoning in house, one jar of taco sauce, put the lid on, put it on high for 6 hours. After 6 hours, open, shred the check w/2 forks, stir all together, and put it back on low for 30-60 minutes. Don’t like black beans? Don’t use them. Don’t like corn? Don’t use it. Too spicy – add one small can (8 oz) of plain tomato sauce during the last hour after shredding. You can serve this a multitude of ways – over rice, with soft tortillas, shredded lettuce and cheese, taco style, nacho style … and it makes awesome leftovers. Total prep time – 5-10 freaking minutes!!
Shredded BBQ chicken – chop one red onion, put in bottom of crock pot. Chop up one cubanelle pepper, put on top of onions. Arrange 7-8 frozen chicken breasts on top (sensing a theme here?), dump most of one bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce on top. (reserve just a little for garnishing your sandwiches) – and one small can (8 oz) of plain tomato sauce. Cook on high, 6 hours, shred chicken w/2 forks, and cook on low for another 30 to 60 minutes. Serve on soft rolls (when my kids were little, hot dog rolls were the perfect vehicle for this! Total prep time – no more than 10-15 minutes!
Both recipes will look like there is too much liquid in them when you first open the crockpot up after 6 hours – don’t worry. After you shred the chicken breasts and let them cook another 30-60 minutes, all the liquid will be absorbed.
You can make all kinds of variations of these, but the genius is the frozen chicken breasts – no need to plan very far ahead! Target has frozen chicken breasts in a big plastic bag -they are perfect for this!
Torrie @ a place to share...May 23, 2011 at 9:33 am
I agree. Summer’s the best time to pull out the slow cooker… more time to play, or to head out for the day… less time in a hot kitchen. I can’t wait to try your recipe… Looks and sounds delicious. This recipe is one of my favorites for the summer.
LynneMay 23, 2011 at 12:46 pm
I love my slow cooker and I use it year around. That is the only way this single mom gets a decent dinner on the table!
I love the cookbook Make it Fast, Cook it Slow. Everything I have tried has been fantastic. Her blog has most of the recipes too – Asian Peanut Butter pork is a favorite!
HaleyMay 25, 2011 at 7:35 pm
I definitely also recommend Steph @ http://crockpot365.blogspot.com
Everything is easier than easy, and tastes great…
(Plus its gluten-free…good for me at least!)
MUST CHECK IT OUT! 2 of my faves are the chicken noodle soup (with sweet potatoes, spinach, and parmesean) and the italian beef (simple!)
WindyMay 26, 2011 at 11:39 am
Here are my favorites:
Salsa chicken and black beans
asian pork “tacos”
Oh, and the William Sonoma chicken olive tangine recipe is also a house favorite, but you really need to like olives!
LisaJune 12, 2011 at 1:16 pm
Just whipped your recipe up with my son! He loved helping!! Thank you!