Crock Pot Sides

There are an amazing number of side dishes that can be cooked in a crock pot or other slow cooker. I bet you didn’t know that mac-n-cheese and even dinner rolls can be prepared in a slow cooker rather than in a conventional oven. Here are a few recipes to get you started.

These recipes are written more like concepts than with the usual ingredients list due to the many variations that are available for each.

MAC AND CHEESE
Slow cooked mac and cheese is creamier than baked, so make sure to have some nice crusty bread on hand to bring it all together. Whisk together 1 1/2 cups of milk, 12 ounces of evaporated milk, 1/4 cup of melted and cooled butter, three eggs and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Pour into a buttered crock pot. Add three cups of shredded cheese and 1/2 pound of macaroni. Stir gently to combine and cook on high for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to low and cook for three more hours.

DINNER ROLLS
Cooking dinner rolls in a slow cooker creates bread that is warm and soft with a steamed bun texture. Take any yeast bread dough and cut into small roll-sized pieces. Put them in a buttered crock pot and let them rise for an hour. Cook the rolls on high for 60 to 90 minutes until they’re no longer sticky. Serve warm, and moan because they’re so delicious.

GERMAN “FRIED” POTATOES
My mother used to do this dish in a cast iron skillet, first on the stove top and finishing in the oven. In experimenting with crock pot cooking, I have discovered that these potatoes can be easily set up and cooked without constantly being watched. Spray or spread a little olive oil in the bottom and lower sides of your crock pot. Add sliced potatoes (skin on is more traditional), thinly sliced raw onion, minced garlic and a bit of salt and pepper to taste in layers to fill the crock pot about half way. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. Serve with a spot of sour cream and a sprinkle of chives on top.

POTATOES AU GRATIN
Everyone loves cheesy potatoes, right? As with the potato dish above, spray olive oil to coat the bottom and lower sides of your crock pot. Layer sliced potatoes (skin on or off as you prefer), grated cheese (cheddar, Gouda, or another firm cheese is recommended), and a little minced garlic. Add salt and pepper to taste on each layer if you like. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. Serve with a spot of sour cream and a sprinkle of chives on top or just add more grated cheese.

Give these side dishes a try and let us know how you enjoyed them. See if you don’t agree that the crock pot method is a time-saving twist on these home-made favorites.

–Ann Cathey

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