Crockpot Challenge: what is it?

Crock pot challenge

Slow cookers and crockpots

I have always been intrigued by slow cookers, but I have never owned or used one like the Crockpot. My sister auspiciously bought one for my parents years ago, and I think it never even got out of its box and it’s gathering dust somewhere. It is probably not a cooking method for everyone, yet I have often heard praises particularly from people who are short on time and who spend most of the day out of their homes.

Crockpot encourages friends and families back to the dinner table with its Time Together campaign supported by chef, Chris Baber

Coming back to a steaming, hot, warming meal is an appealing prospect, especially now that winter is here and the days are cold and often miserable.

No surprise then, that I accepted the Crockpot challenge with enthusiasm: cook fresh and healthy food to share with friends and family at least once a week for a month!

Scarily, new research suggests lively conversations at the dinner table with family and friends has become a thing of the past, with a third (33%) of Brits now regularly eating meals alone, despite 78% acknowledging that sharing meals is an important way to spend quality time together. I grew up without a TV by the dinner table, and always had meals with my parents. It is something that I fully intend to continue doing with our young son.

To help with this ‘challenge’, Crock-Pot has partnered with chef and influencer, Chris Baber, to create healthy and delicious recipes that are quick and easy to prepare, so people can spend time together with friends and family instead of hours in the kitchen.

I was provided with the recipes and with a Crock-Pot Lift & Serve Digital Slow Cooker. I was ready to begin the challenge

The Crockpot

It was, I admit, a little daunting at first. Big, bulky, lots of buttons and lots of instructions. I thought to myself ‘oh what have I done, I am never going to use this thing’. But I persevered, and choose one of Chris’ recipes to get on with: Pulled Mexican Chicken.

After a few hesitant moments, I realised how easy it actually is to use the Crockpot. I put the ingredients in, pressed a couple of buttons (timing, type of cooking) and there, it went. In fact, we got back home about an hour after the cooking time had ended, and the machine had gone into ‘Keep warm’ mode automatically. Genius!

We enjoyed a meal with almost no efforts. Because the 5 minutes or so of prep are spent hours earlier, it actually feels like someone’s done the cooking for you.

Crockpot

Ready to serve … even if not the most attractive!

Initial thoughts

What about the flavours? I found the flavours pretty good, but something a couple of people had warned me about proved to be correct. The meal did require more seasoning, salt particularly – slow cooking tend to do this, apparently. Also the chicken was really well cooked, and very ‘pulled’ which – in this recipe’s case – worked very well.

I enjoyed cooking with the Crockpot so much that I used it again a couple of days later already. This time, I used the pressure cooking function, another new thing for me. I made a chicken casserole recipe I usually make in the pan, and of course this was so much easier – I actually got some stuff done in the meantime. Compared to my pan version this was more like a chicken soup, I probably added too much stock, but it was flavoursome and the chicken was really well cooked and had kept really moist. Will come up with a recipe soon, as this is one of my ‘chuck it in, be creative’ things.

Chris Baber’s Mexican Chicken Recipe is shared below.

The challenge has started, and I am already on two meals and it’s not even been a week. I feel like winning already! More to come…

Mexican Pulled Chicken Chipotle
Soft, spicy, pulled chicken with tortilla and guacamole
Prep Time
5 min
Prep Time
5 min
Ingredients
  1. Equipment Required: Crock-Pot® slow-cooker, such as the Crock-Pot® ‘Lift & Serve’ 4.7L Digital Slow Cooker
  2. Cooking Time: 8-10 hours on a Low setting; 6-8 hours on a High Setting
  3. Preparation Time: 5 minutes (with an additional 5 minutes for the Guacamole and Salsa)
  4. Ingredients
For the chicken
  1. 12 skinless and boneless chicken thighs cut in half
  2. Salt and pepper
  3. 2 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
  4. 2 tbsp. chipotle paste
  5. 2 tbsp. oregano
  6. 2 tbsp. smoked paprika
  7. 1 tbsp. cumin
  8. 2 tbsp. chilli powder
  9. 1 tbsp. honey or sugar
  10. 2 red onions, diced
  11. 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  12. 1 chicken stock cube, crumbled
  13. 1 tbsp. tomato purée
  14. 2 tbsp. corn flour mixed to paste with 2 tbsp. water
To serve
  1. 1 lime zested and cut into wedges
  2. 2 iceberg lettuces
  3. 10 flour tortillas
  4. Sour cream
  5. Grated cheese
  6. 2 chillies finely chopped (optional)
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Instructions
  1. Method
  2. 1. Place all the ingredients, including the chicken, (except the corn flour paste) into the Crock-Pot®
  3. 2. Give everything a good mix around.
  4. 3. Cook on Low for 8-10 hours or on High for 6-8 hours.
  5. 4. Once cooked, lift the lid and stir in the corn flour paste to thicken the sauce.
  6. 5. Now, using two forks pull the chicken apart.
  7. 6. Scatter with freshly chopped coriander and lime zest.
  8. 7. Serve in lettuce cups or tortilla wraps with guacamole, salsa, sour cream and grated cheese.
  9. 8. If you like it spicy add some freshly chopped chillies.
For the salsa
  1. 5 large ripe tomatoes
  2. ½ red onion
  3. ½ red chilli
  4. Small bunch fresh coriander
  5. Juice of 1 lime
  6. Salt and pepper
  7. Method
  8. 1. Finely chop the tomatoes, red onion, chilli and coriander and place into a bowl with the oil.
  9. 2. Squeeze in the lime juice, add salt and pepper.
  10. 3. Mix everything together and serve.
For the guacamole
  1. 2 ripe avocados
  2. Juice of 1 lime
  3. ¼ red onion
  4. 2 ripe tomatoes
  5. Salt and pepper
  6. Method
  7. 1. Halve the avocados, remove the stone and scoop out the flesh with a spoon.
  8. 2. Place the avocado flesh into a bowl, squeeze in the lime juice and mash with a fork until smooth.
  9. 3. Finely chop the red onion and tomatoes, then add to the mashed avocado. Season with salt and
  10. pepper and give everything a good mix together.
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Pastabites http://blog.pastabites.co.uk/

I received the Crockpot complimentary for the purpose of the Crockpot challenge; opinions are my own

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