USA: The early American settlers cooked in iron pots set over the glowing embers of an open hearth. Later, when each town had a bakery, women would bring casseroles to cook in the slow heat of the communal oven after the bread was baked. Immigrants from Eastern Europe brought stews like Hungarian goulash.
Beantown’s Best: Boston baked beans have that perfect combination of salty bacon and sweet molasses that’s so warming on a cold day. Corn bread is a great accompaniment, and you can make that in a slow cooker too! If you’re lactose intolerant, just substitute Kikkoman Pearl® Organic Soymilk for dairy milk.
Chili Today: Settlers in the southwest created chili con carne from dried beef, suet and chile peppers, but nowadays we use fresh ground or finely chopped meat. Give your favorite chili recipe a hint of sweet heat with Kikkoman Sriracha Sauce.
China: When you think of Chinese cooking, the first thing that comes to mind is stir-frying, where it seems like more time is spent chopping than cooking. But China also has a highly developed slow-cooked cuisine, which uses clay pots to cook everything from rice dishes to pork ribs and braises. These dishes are perfectly suited to a modern slow cooker, too.
Long-Cooked Short Ribs: Marinate pork short ribs in Kikkoman Hoisin Sauce and Kikkoman Soy Sauce, rice wine, ginger, garlic and orange peel. Layer in a slow cooker with green onions and cook “low and slow” until tender and delectable!
Cook Some Jook: Congee, also known as jook, is a traditional Chinese dish of rice cooked slowly in plenty of water until it’s a creamy porridge. Serve it with condiments like shredded chicken, cooked shrimp, sesame seeds, chopped scallions, grated ginger, hot chili oil and, of course, Kikkoman Soy Sauce.
France: In France, slow cooking is an art, with skillfully concocted braises of beef, chicken, pork, lamb or game featured on menus around the country. Regional variations abound—bean and sausage-based cassoulet is a specialty of the southwest, while in Burgundy you’ll find boeuf bourguignon, beef slowly cooked in red wine. In the traditional coq au vin, slow cooking was a way to turn a tough old rooster into a tender stew—today we use a younger chicken, but it’s just as tasty!
Lazy Cassoulet: In the southwest of France, making a cassoulet can take days. But you can streamline the process by using store-bought sausages and pre-cooked white beans. The flavors will meld even better in your slow cooker if you add a touch of Kikkoman Less Sodium Soy Sauce.
Morocco: Morocco is famous for its succulent tagines—slow-cooked stews of lamb, beef or chicken, with green olives, salty preserved lemons or dried fruit like raisins, prunes or dates. Spices like cinnamon, coriander and cardamom add a sweet note, and there’s often a kick of heat from chiles as well.
Ter-rific Tagine: Brown chunks of lamb shoulder, add chopped onion, ginger, cinnamon and saffron. Cover with water and slow cook until tender and luscious, and garnish with blanched pearl onions and quartered pears glazed with Kikkoman Teriyaki Baste & Glaze with Honey & Pineapple.
India: With the thousands of regional cuisines that are found in India, it’s no surprise to find slow-cooked dishes among them. In Kashmir, in the north of India, lamb is fried and then simmered slowly with the local chiles to make an aromatic stew called rogan josh. Further south, biryanis are made with marinated meat, rice and fragrant spices layered in a dish, which is then sealed and cooked slowly. And, of course, each region boasts its own special curries, many of which are perfect for the slow cooker.
Mexico: Chicken and pork are popular candidates for slow cooking in Mexico, in dishes like tinga, a filling to serve with tortillas and tacos, and posole, a traditional stew made with hominy and pork or poultry, served with a variety of toppings like lettuce, radishes, salsa and warm tortillas. Turkey in mole is another slow-cooked celebratory dish—it’s braised in a sauce that’s made with spices, seeds, nuts, chiles, tomatoes and often a hint of chocolate. Taco Night Revisited: Slow cook chicken thighs or pork in a chile spiked tomato sauce until tender enough to shred with a fork. Use as a topping for tacos or a filling for tortas, accompanied by a cabbage slaw tossed with Kikkoman Lime Ponzu Citrus Seasoned Dressing & Sauce and toasted pumpkin, cumin and sesame seeds.
Italy: For a small country, Italy boasts a wealth of dishes and employs a wide range of ingredients and cooking methods. Ragù alla Bolognese is a slow-cooked sauce of meat, broth, red wine, vegetables and, contrary to what many Americans are used to, only a small amount of tomato paste. Long, slow cooking marries the flavors of veal shanks, white wine and broth to make osso buco—the perfect accompaniment to risotto or, less traditionally, polenta.
Better Bolognese: Next time you cook up a pot of bolognese sauce, create a little “umami synergy” by adjusting the flavors at the end of cooking with a bit of Kikkoman Soy Sauce or Tamari Soy Sauce.
A Hot Idea: Arrabbiata is a tomato-based sauce with garlic and red chiles cooked in olive oil, and it gets its name from the Italian word for “angry,” thanks to its spiciness. If you have a surplus of tomatoes from your garden or the farmers’ market, cook up a batch in your slow cooker. Serve some of it on pasta and freeze the rest in batches to enjoy all winter long. And if you like it really hot, add some Kikkoman Sriracha Sauce.
Next week: Getting Saucy