Emma Waverman writes about the chaos of modern family life in the kitchen and out of it. She has a weekly food column on CBC Radio One, Here & Now. She is the co-author of the family cookbook Whining and Dining: Mealtime Survival for Picky Eaters and Families Who Love Them and is hoping to one day finish her certification as a parenting coach. She lives with her three kids, ranging from tween to university student, and husband in Toronto. Emma has written for a variety of national lifestyle magazines and newspapers. When she's is not making typos, telling you what she thinks, and thinking about dinner, you can find her on Twitter at @emmawaverman and Instagram. You can contact Emma at embracingchaos@hotmail.ca.

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Let's Talk about Slow Cooker Recipes

I wasn't kidding when I said that the biggest fight my mother and I ever had as adults was over slow cookers. It was also in front of our editors, so that was not at all embarrassing. 

I was arguing that the convenience of the slow cooker overrides the compromises in taste. Eventually we agreed that you can coax good flavours out of the slow cooker by layering the flavour. But there will never be browning, or very much sauce reduction. 

The Morroccan chicken recipe that we developed is delicious, and you can do it in a slow cooker, a Dutch oven in the oven (for two hours), or in a pressure cooker (25 minutes on high). I wanted to show Gill Deacon, host of CBC Here and Now the difference between the oven and slow cooker so I divided the recipe and did half in each appliance. 

slow cooker version on the left, oven version on the right

The oven one (which to be honest, I left in too long) was thicker and tastier. But my husband looked at me like I was crazy when I pointed out the difference. 

Find the recipe here.

From the Globe and Mail:

"Cooking time varies depending on the brand of slow cooker, so check your machine. Mine, an All-Clad slow cooker, took four hours on high and eight hours on low. You can find premixed Moroccan seasonings, but this easy one can be made in larger quantities and will keep in a container for six months. Harissa can be found in a tube in most larger grocery stores. We used precut butternut squash in this recipe – a time-saver ingredient that is available in many produce sections."


Slow-cooked Moroccan chicken, photo courtesy of Globe and Mail

We also added in some important tips to ensure slow cooker success including: no peeking, a handy conversion guide and how to layer flavour.  The recipe has been a family and reader favourite. Try it out and let me know what you think.

If you are a die-hard fan of the slow cooker, just remember that fatty meats like thighs, shoulder, shanks and brisket do better because the fat breaks down slowly and the collagen helps keep the meat tender. And firing up a pan to brown the meat and sauté the onions will improve your flavour, somewhat. 

I know that some people absolutely adore their slow cookers while others leave them to collect dust in the basement. I admit, I use mine intermittently, mostly for chili and brisket. But now I have a new love in my life -- my Instant Pot and next Wednesday on CBC Radio Here and Now I am going to talk about how and why I love it so much. 

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