October 29, 2014

Bachelor Cooking

Having a chat with a co-worker today and got talking about food.  I mentioned that I had a heap of good barbecue for lunch, and he got all excited:

"Oh, I love barbecue, and wish I could make it.  You always make really interesting sounding food, JB..."

I guess.  I mean, yes, I think the food that I make is tasty, but it's not hard nor is there any real secret to cooking good food even if you're a bachelor.  While I make dinner for four now, it wasn't long ago that I made dinner for... well, just me.

The trick, I think, is having a slow cooker, a.k.a. Crock Pot.  With it, and some basic stuff, you can make a lot of decent food.  Then add in a few dozen resealable plastic tubs (tupperware, basically) and space in the freezer...

Barbecue Shredded Pork:

My Texas pals will cringe at this, but you can make a modestly fair heap of pulled pork in the crock pot.  Get a decent sized pork shoulder roast (as big as will fit the crock pot) and put it in there.  Add a bit of water, perhaps an inch, to the pot.  If you wish, work in some dry barbecue rub on the meat.  Put the whole thing, crock pot and all, into the fridge* and go to bed.  Next morning, just before you leave for the office, put it in the heater, lid on, and turn the heat to low.  8 hours later, you'll come home from work.  Get the pork out and into a cake pan, drain the water/juice (or save it to make beans... see below), chop up the meat, and return to the crock pot.  Add a bottle of sauce (Sweet Baby Ray's is really solid, IMHO) and crank to HIGH.  Warm through, serve on bread or buns.

Roast and Veggies:

This is one of the all-time favorites at Casa d' JB.  A beef roast, seasoned liberally with salt and pepper and onion powder and garlic and whatever else you like.  Into the crock.  Add some baby carrots, some green beans, and some potatoes cut into fourths.  Pour a can of Cream of Mushroom soup on it, and add a splash of red wine.  Low heat, 7 hours.  Remove the solids, add a bit of flour to thicken the liquid for gravy.


Get a pound or two of kidney or pinto beans (I like pintos), rinse and drain, then put into a container filled with water and cover.  Let soak overnight.  Drain, rinse, and into the crock they go.  Add water (or, if you have it, that broth from the barbecue you made above) and some diced onion, chopped bacon, and a fair measure of garlic.  Low heat, 8 hours or so until beans are tender.  Drain whatever liquid remains, then load up with castup, barbecue sauce, mustard, etc.  Whatever suits your fancy.

Ham and Bean Soup:

If you are fortunate enough, the end of a spiral cut ham will work great.  Otherwise, use hocks and cubed ham, or leftover riblets, or whatever pork source you have.  It really makes no difference.  Get the meat in the crock, add onion and celery and a bay leaf and some water.  Low heat for a LONG time... maybe 8 or 9 hours.  Put this on the night before, then go to bed.  In the morning, remove the bones and bay leaf.  Add a pound or two of Great Northern Beans that have been soaking in cold water for 24 hours, return to the heat, and let it go another 8 hours.  Serve with cornbread.

All of these will make a fair quantity of food that you can store in your plastic tubs in the freezer.  When you get a hankerin', pull out one of them and let thaw.  But the key here is that they all use the slow cooker.  That item is indispensable for a working single person.

*Putting the crock into the fridge cools the ceramic, making it take a while to heat up... Thus buying you more cooking time.  Without that step, cooking time can be reduced by an hour or more.  I put it into the fridge because I leave the house at 7:30a and don't return until 6:00p-ish.  Without that step, my food would be done long before I get home, and overcooked before I got home.

1 comment:

Old NFO said...

Sounds good. I may have to invest in a new crock pot (the old one bit the dust a few years ago)!