Book makes case for taking it slow

Slow-cooker recipes easy to follow, yield exciting results



It takes a confident kitchen hand to toss this one into the mix of holiday season cookbooks: “Cooking Slow: Recipes for Slowing Down and Cooking More” (Chronicle, 2013; $35, 94 recipes). Given the enormous popularity of quick, easy and five-ingredient come-ons, the subtitle might as well be “Recipes That Most of You Don’t Have Time to Even Shop For.”

But you’d be wrong not to pick it up and at least thumb through — especially you, Millennials. Author Andrew Schloss persuades with dishes that can take 10 minutes to prepare before an application of low and slow heat transforms them. It’s a matter of convenient timing, he writes: “By keeping the temperature moderate, proteins firm more gently, making finished meats more tender, custards softer, fish moister, and casseroles creamier.”

A slow-cooker is one of the ways to do so; Schloss did, after all, produce “The Art of the Slow Cooker” in 2008, which is holding up well in its genre on The oven, the steamer basket, the grill and cast-iron pots and pans are more vividly put in play here, as is that sous vide appliance some of you might have splurged on two years ago.

Philadelphian Schloss is a veteran cooking instructor and one of the clearest, most thoughtful recipe writers working today. In “Cooking Slow,” you’ll find the bases well covered. The time required to make each dish is broken down in mini-chart specifics after each headnote. Chicken wings in a spicy soy glaze: 12 to 24 hours of chilling time; five minutes of prep time; and about three hours of cooking time, with storage and reheating information.

His food is tempting. Four pounds of the funky butcher’s cut known as hanger steak become a succulent masterpiece that makes its own demi-glace as it cooks. A dice of red-skinned potatoes fries in 75 minutes without absorbing the fat that might otherwise render them sodden. Schloss’ method for Thanksgiving turkey is more easily measured in days than hours. Nonetheless, he makes a convincing case, and a slowpoke bird is on my to-do list for November.

The multi-tasker who dives into “Cooking Slow” will have something aromatic and delicious to show for it.

Triple Chocolate Bypass

Makes one 8-inch cake (16 to 20 servings).

This takes 15 minutes to assemble and 4 hours to bake in a slow oven. When you take it out, it will look like chocolate pudding, but after a cooling period and refrigeration, it will become firm. You’ll need an 8-inch springform pan. For best results, do not substitute a different kind of chocolate. Serve with whipped cream, if desired. MAKE AHEAD: The cake needs to be chilled for at least 2 hours before serving. It can be refrigerated for up to 5 days. Adapted from “Cooking Slow: Recipes for Slowing Down and Cooking More,” by Andrew Schloss (Chronicle, 2013).

2 cups heavy or light cream

1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1 pound semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon almond extract

8 large egg yolks, preferably at room temperature

Raspberries, for garnish (optional)

Preheat the oven to 175 F degrees. Grease the sides and bottom of the pan with cooking oil spray, then line the bottom with parchment paper.

Combine the cream and brown sugar in a large saucepan over medium heat. Once the mixture begins to bubble, reduce the heat to low. Stir in the chocolate until it has melted. Remove from the heat.

Stir in the salt plus the vanilla and almond extracts, then the egg yolks. Pour into the pan. Bake (on the middle rack) for about 4 hours. The cake will be solid yet not quite set at the center. Cool to room temperature on a wire rack, then refrigerate for at least 2 hours until firm.

Unmold, carefully remove the parchment paper and transfer the cake to a plate. To serve, dip a sharp, thin knife into very hot water before making each cut. Garnish with raspberries, if desired.

NUTRITION Per serving (based on 20): 260 calories, 3 g protein, 25 g carbohydrates, 18 g fat, 11 g saturated fat, 120 mg cholesterol, 45 mg sodium, 2 g dietary fiber, 21 g sugar

Slow-Baked Hanger Steak in Demi-Glace

6 to 8 servings.

Hanger steak is sometimes called “butchers’ steak,” because butchers used to keep this oddly shaped cut for themselves. What a transformation it undergoes when it’s cooked this way. As the meat, vegetables and spices bake slowly, their flavors gradually mingle and bloom to create the silken texture that is the hallmark of a classic, wine-fortified concentrated meat broth. Serve over rice. You may wish to top it with pea shoots or other greens, just to add a hit of color to the rich, dark meat. Adapted from “Cooking Slow: Recipes for Slowing Down and Cooking More,” by Andrew Schloss (Chronicle, 2013).

4 pounds hanger steak (see headnote)

1/4 cup flour

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon dried thyme

Pinch ground cloves

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped

4 medium carrots, well scrubbed, then finely chopped

2 ribs celery, peeled, then finely chopped

1 cup dry red wine

2 cups water

1 tablespoon tomato paste

4 tablespoons ( 1/2 stick) unsalted butter

Pea shoots, for garnish (optional)

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Have a large Dutch oven at hand. Use paper towels to pat the steaks dry.

Combine the flour, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of pepper, all of the thyme and the cloves on a sheet of aluminum foil. Lightly coat the steaks all over with the mixture, reserving any excess.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in the Dutch oven over high heat until the oil shimmers. Working in batches, add the coated steaks. Sear for about 5 minutes on each side (they are ready to turn over once they no longer stick to the bottom of the pot), then transfer to a plate.

Reduce the heat to medium, then add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the Dutch oven. Once it’s hot, add the onions, carrots and celery, stirring to coat. Cook for about 8 minutes, until lightly browned.

Stir in the reserved flour mixture; cook, stirring, for about 4 minutes, until lightly browned. Gradually add the wine, stirring to incorporate. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.

Add the water and tomato paste, stirring until the mixture returns to a boil. Return the steaks to the Dutch oven along with any accumulated juices. Cover tightly, transfer to the oven and slow-bake for about 6 hours. The meat should be fork-tender, and the liquid will be slightly thickened.

Uncover the Dutch oven and increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees. Cook for 15 minutes, until the meat, now more exposed, has browned. Remove from the heat.

Transfer the steaks to a cutting board to rest for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, strain the sauce in the Dutch oven through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl, discarding the solids. Wipe out the pot, then pour in the strained sauce. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; cook for about 6 minutes, until slightly thickened and bubbly, then stir in the butter 1 tablespoon at a time to thicken the sauce further and give it a glossy sheen.

Carve the steaks as desired. Serve warm, with the sauce spooned over. Garnish with pea shoots, if desired.

NUTRITION Ingredients are too varied for a meaningful analysis.

Chocolate Lamb Chili

Makes 11 1/2 cups (8 servings).

Lamb gives this chili a slightly gamey richness. The chocolate smooths the sauce and moves the flavor profile closer to that of a Mexican mole. The ingredient list isn’t as daunting as you might think: Everything ends up in the slow-cooker, which should have at least a 5 1/2-quart capacity. Serve with rice or triangles of warm pita bread. MAKE AHEAD: The chili needs to cook for 4 to 5 hours on high or 8 to 9 hours on low. It can be refrigerated for up to 4 days. Adapted from “Cooking Slow: Recipes for Slowing Down and Cooking More,” by Andrew Schloss (Chronicle, 2013).

2 tablespoons chili powder

1 tablespoon ground coriander

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

2 tablespoons flour

3 pounds boneless leg of lamb, trimmed of visible fat and silver skin, then cut into 1/2-inch pieces

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 large yellow onions, diced

1 medium eggplant, peeled, then cut into 1/2 -inch squares

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 chipotles in adobo, finely chopped, plus 1 tablespoon adobo

1 1/2 cups no-salt-added beef broth

28 ounces canned, no-salt-added diced tomatoes plus their juices, preferably not fire-roasted

30 to 31 ounces canned, no-salt-added white kidney beans or cannellini (may substitute navy beans)

2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

3 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro

Combine the chili powder, ground coriander, ground cumin, dried oregano, dried thyme, ground cardamom and flour in a small bowl.

Season the lamb with salt and pepper to taste.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in three or four batches, brown the lamb pieces, transferring them to the slow-cooker as they are done.

Add the onions and eggplant to the skillet, stirring to coat. Cook for about 4 minutes, until lightly browned, then add the garlic and chipotles; cook for about 30 seconds, then stir in the adobo and the chili powder-spice mixture. Cook for about 1 minute, then stir in the broth and tomatoes. Cook, stirring a few times, for about 5 minutes.

Transfer to the slow-cooker. Cover and cook for 4 to 5 hours on high (or 8 to 9 hours on low). The lamb should be falling apart. Stir in the beans; cover and cook just until they have warmed through.

Just before serving, add the chocolate and cilantro, stirring until the chocolate melts.

NUTRITION Per serving: 440 calories, 37 g protein, 33 g carbohydrates, 18 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 90 mg cholesterol, 240 mg sodium, 10 g dietary fiber, 9 g sugar