At some point or another we all seem to have a relationship that makes us ask the question, “Why do I bother?”. You wonder why you keep investing time and energy to try to make it work when it would be so much simpler to just let it go. You could save yourself headaches and hours of therapy.
I’ve had that sort of relationship with my crock pot. I like the idea of it, but the reality never quite works out to my expectations. I’m not a big soup fan (once a month in the cool months is plenty) but that’s the one thing that generally works in the crock pot. Most of the time, though, I find myself disappointed with the texture and flavor of meals I make in the crockpot compared to those I make in the oven or on the stove top. I like the flavor of the herbs and seasonings to be fully realized, not drowned in a sea of juices and fat.
I also hate to clean the thing. I mean, it’s got a removable crock and it’s dishwasher safe so it ought to be really easy, right? But it’s so darn big that I often end up washing it by hand, which means I don’t even want to get it out of the closet in the first place.
Enter the Reynolds Slow Cooker Liner. You can get a free sample at the website, so go check it out, cheesy ad and all. The people who brought you the oven bag for your Thanksgiving turkey, have brought you another easy clean up tool!
This week I made a chicken in the crock pot. Of course, chicken brings up another iffy relationship for me. While I was preparing the bird for the crock pot, I realized that part of the reason I’ve been able to eat chicken the last few years is because I generally buy the boneless, skinless breast. The whole bird, with its giblets and neck stuffed in the body cavity and fatty skin still on, vividly brought back the smell of wet feathers. While gagging, I put the liner in the crock according to the instructions, dumped in my cleaned bird, sprinkled it with seasoning, several cloves of garlic, onion, and celery, put the lid on and let it cook all afternoon.
It looks pretty nice here, but after it had cooked it was swimming in greasy chicken juices and looking less appetizing. I pulled off all the meat and left the rest of the mess in the bag. Once it was cool, I just grabbed the bag and tossed the mess out. There were a few spills in the crock, but it cleaned up much more easily than without the bag.
When I made soup for the ladies’ retreat I used a liner for the first time. Then, I tossed the ingredients for the soup in the bag and froze it without cooking. I was hoping I could take the bag out once it was frozen solid and not have to have the crock in the freezer too, but I didn’t make it very far in advance and it didn’t seem like there was enough room at the top of the bag to seal it once it was frozen. I think that’s worth trying again, however, because how handy would it be to be able to toss all the raw ingredients into the lined crock and then pull it out on the morning you want to use it and let it heat in the crock all day? When I arrived at the retreat late in the evening, my soup was still frozen solid and we wanted it for lunch so I put it in the heating unit on low all night and it was thoroughly cooked by 9 AM.
The biggest downside to the liners is the cost. They run about $4 for 5 bags. Maybe not something I would use every time if I were a frequent (weekly or more often) crock pot user, but worth it for my usage. It’s something to keep the relationship together for a while, but I think roasting chickens and I are just done.