Southwestern Slow CookingBy Santa Fe School of Cooking
Southwestern Slow Cooking
Taking It Slow and Low: Southwestern
With Cheryl Alters Jamison from Santa Fe
This new class—about the range of uses of the slow cooker—is based on
Cheryl’s book, Texas Slow Cooker.
Blue Crab and Corn Soup
I think very few things are better together than corn and blue crab from the Gulf of Mexico. Together they make a superlative lightly creamy soup. Low-fat buttermilk lends a lot of the creaminess to the soup, and a little tang that’s quite fitting too. This is a great starter for a holiday meal.
Cooking Time: 3½ to 4½ hours on low
Serves 6 or more
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter (divided use)
1 large onion, chopped fine
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon tomato paste
2 Tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups low-sodium chicken, seafood, or vegetable broth
12 ounces red-skinned potatoes, diced fine
1 cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
1/2 red bell pepper, diced fine
1 teaspoon kosher salt or other coarse salt, or more to taste
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup half-and-half
1 pound blue crabmeat
Fresh thymes sprigs or chives, optional, for garnish
1. Generously butter the inside of the slow cooker with about 1 teaspoon of the butter.
2. Warm the remaining butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until limp and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and continue cooking until the onion is tender, about 3 more minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and thyme, followed by the flour. Cook for 1 minute. Stir in the broth, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom. Transfer to the slow cooker.
3. Add to the slow cooker the potatoes, corn, bell pepper, and salt. Cover and cook for
2 1/2 to 3 hours. Stir in the buttermilk, half-and-half, crabmeat, and more salt, if needed. Continue cooking covered for 30 to 45 minutes.
4. Ladle soup out into bowls, garnish with thyme sprigs, if you wish, and serve.
Mexican mole, even when made in shortcut fashion, can develop lots of complexity from its lengthy time in a slow cooker. The shortcut here is to start out with a store-bought jarred version black or red mole paste or a powdered mole mix. If you have a favorite from-scratch version, it can be used here too.
Cooking Time: 4 to 4 1/2 hours on high, 8 to 9 hours on low
Serves 6 or more
Vegetable oil spray
4- to 4 1/2 pound bone-in skinless turkey breast
Kosher salt or coarse sea salt
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, minced
About 1/2 cup black or red mole paste or powder
14 to 15-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
Sesame seeds, orange wedges, and cilantro sprigs for garnish
1. Generously spray the inside of the slow cooker with oil. Spray the turkey breast all over too. Rub the turkey breast with salt, between 1 and 2 teaspoons, then place it in the slow cooker.
2. Make the mole sauce. Warm the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes, until translucent. Mix in the mole paste, the tomatoes and juice, and the broth. Add salt, if needed to the sauce. Pour the sauce over the turkey. Cover and cook on the high heat setting for 4 to 4 1/2 hours or on low for 8 to 9 hours.
3. Transfer the turkey breast to a cutting board. A pair of tongs and a large sturdy spoon or fork will help with this process. Let the turkey breast sit for about 10 minutes, then slice across the grain. Spoon out mole sauce for each portion. Any leftovers of either turkey or sauce can be refrigerated together. If you wish, shred the turkey and mix it together with the sauce as a filling for enchiladas or other dishes.
Black-Eyed Peas and Collards
Eating black-eyed peas for New Year’s is considered a symbol of good luck. Don’t restrict your enjoyment of the peas, though, to just one day. A soothing bowl of peas and collards is perfect anytime. I like these best when the collards cook for about half the time of the dried peas. However, if you want to make this and will not be at home to add the collards later, simply toss it all together at the start. It will still be good.
Cooking Time: 6 hours on high, 11 to 12 hours on low, can be held on warm for several hours
1 pound dried black-eyed peas
4 thick-cut bacon slices
3 celery stalks, chopped
5 plump garlic cloves, minced
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt or coarse sea salt
4 cups chicken broth, preferably low-sodium
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon red chile hot sauce
3/4 pound roughly chopped collard greens
1. Combine everything but the collard greens in the slow cooker.
2. Cover and cook on the high heat setting for about 3 hours. Add the collards to the top of the slow cooker, cover again quickly, and cook for approximately 3 more hours. The dish is ready when both the black-eyed peas and collard greens are very tender. Serve hot with some of the “pot likker.”
Cheesecake with Prickly Pear Syrup
The warm moist environment of the slow cooker makes it an exceptional way to prepare a cheesecake. The cake provides a luscious but simple canvas for a final flourish of effusively magenta syrup, made from the fruit of the prickly pear cactus.
Cooking Time: 1 3/4 to 2 hours on high
1 1/4 cups cup graham cracker crumbs
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
19 ounces cream cheese (two 8-ounce packages and one 3-ounce package), softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon table salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or paste
Prickly pear syrup, such as Cheri’s
1. Pour 1/2 -inch of water into a slow cooker. Roll up an 18-inch piece of aluminum foil from one of its long sides into a snake. Then bend it into a coil to fit in the bottom of the slow cooker. Place this aluminum foil “rack” in the bottom of the slow cooker. The water should be below the level of the rack.
2. Stir together crumbs and sugar in bowl, then stir in butter until evenly moistened. Pour crumb mixture into 6-inch spring-form pan and press into an even layer with the bowl of a spoon.
3. Combine cream cheese, sugar, and salt in food processor and process until combined and smooth. Add sour cream, eggs, and vanilla and pulse several times just to combine.
4. Scrape filling into prepared pan and smooth top. Place pan on rack in slow cooker and cover. Cook on high for 1 3/4 to 2 1/2 hours, until cake is lightly set but is still moist looking, and the internal temperature is approximately 160° F on an instant-read thermometer. Turn off the slow cooker and let cheesecake sit in it covered for 1 to 1½ hours. Transfer to baking rack.
5. Let the cheesecake cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate until well-chilled and set, at least 4 hours and up to 2 days.
6. Shortly before serving, run a small knife around inside edge of pan, then remove the side of pan carefully. Cut into slices, cleaning knife blade off with hot water between cuts. Drizzle a couple of spoonfuls of prickly pear syrup over each slice before serving.
Shopping for Ingredients
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Ingredients and Tools available at the School of Cooking
- Large onions, garlic cloves, tomato paste, all-purpose flour, low-sodium chicken, seafood, or vegetable broth, red-skinned potatoes, corn kernels (fresh or frozen), red bell pepper, kosher salt, buttermilk, half-and-half, blue crabmeat, fresh springs of thyme or chives (optional), turkey breast, sea salt, olive oil, diced tomatoes, low sodium chicken broth, sesame seeds, orange wedges, and cilantro sprigs for garnish (optional), black-eyed peas, bacon, celery stalks, bay leaves, dried thyme, collard greens, graham cracker crumbs, sugar, unsalted butter, cream cheese, salt, eggs, sour cream, lemon zest