I am a firm believer that a slow cooker has a specific place in the kitchen of love. That is in the realm of soups and chili and now gravy. While I am not overly fond of large (or small)pieces pf meat prepared this way, I do find that soups, chili and other “liquidy” recipes work well. I do also like the convenience of setting and then forgetting these long cooking recipes.
Soups and chilies benefit from long slow cooking. With a slow cooker to keep an eye on things, the cook is able to go about life without the burden of being constantly available to stir and adjust the heat. At times that can feel like a life changing occurrence.
I had never thought to make Sunday Gravy in the slow cooker. I rather enjoy the process of stirring and tasting and adjusting. It brings back wonderful memories of my father making his gravy, meatballs, and sausage. Please, journey back with me by clicking on this link:
Back to the present and the slow cooker. This recipe takes the heart of my father’s recipe and introduces it to elements of the classic Bolognese Sauce. San Marzano tomatoes replaced my father’s Tomato paste and puree, though a good amount of tomato paste was needed to pay respect to the bolgonese.
I used meat that I had in the freezer; in this case two spicy Italian sausage links and a bag of “meat bits”. The bits were mostly chicken, remnants of trimmed thighs and breasts, but there were a few pork scraps as well.
I browned the meat and onions before adding them to the cooker. We all know that a slow cooker can’t brown things. Which in my opinion is one of the factors that contribute to the watered down taste. In this case it was worth the time because the flavors were really there. The tomato paste also had a chance to cook out a bit before jumping into the “hot tub”.
I originally planned to let the sauce cook 6 – 8 hours. It wound up going closer to 10. That was a good thing. It resulted in a thick rich sauce that was wonderful. I strongly suggest waiting until the next day to eat this. The aroma that is created in the house will make that difficult but be strong, I guarantee that the wait will be worth it. You have my permission however, to dip a chunk of bread into the pot to check for proper seasoning. That’s where the salt, pepper and perhaps a bit of sugar listed in the recipe come in.
Serve this over your favorite pasta. I chose spaghetti (Papa D’s favorite). I also used my mother’s technique of serving. A ladle of gravy in the bottom of the bowl with a sprinkle of cheese. Half of the pasta and another ladle of gravy, a quick toss, then repeat. Top with two generous ladles of gravy and a generous sprinkle of cheese and bring it to the table.
I don’t know if my father would have embraced the slow cooker. Back then I think he was as concerned about the process as the product. I do believe that if he were around now he would approve of this take on his prized recipe.
When it comes to snacks, I’m a crunchy-salty kind of gal. Potato chips, cheese curls, tortilla chips all have graced my snack tray. There’s something so comforting and satisfying about the crunch on the palate, the salt on the lips, and the oily residue on the fingers that these snacks provide.
Sadly, these tasty treats have become a very occasional indulgence, but for my taste, there is still nothing like a salty crunchy snack. What’s a gal to do? Oh, nuts! Really, I mean nuts. In their natural state they are a healthy and satisfying snack. With a little imagination and some mostly healthy ingredients they can become the perfect cure for that salt with crunch craving.
There are many good for you nuts out there that provide healthy fat, fiber, and protein to your diet. They are nutrient dense and their rich taste lets a little go a long way. Right now, I’m sharing a recipe for almonds so lets see what this tasty little seed (it is the seed of the fruit of the almond tree) has to offer.
Twenty three almonds (about an ounce) provides about 160 calories, 3 grams of fiber, 6 grams of protein and 14 grams of healthy fats. There’s also a generous dose of vitamin E. It boasts many health benefits including aiding in lowering bad (LDL) cholesterol and blood sugar. Most of the almonds we eat are grown here so that means you are eating American. The U.S. is the number one producer and California is the epicenter.
Enough about the wonders of almonds, let’s talk about how to make them even tastier. To create the smokey flavor I use a generous dose of sweet smoked paprika. I use a touch of garlic powder and sugar, along with a little salt.The almonds get tossed with some olive oil before the savory ingredients are added.A slow roast in the oven and they’re read to eat.
You can make this as spicy or sweet as you want. I often add some rosemary and a little black pepper, but let your herb and spice preferences be your guide.