Every day I bring you an item on Amazon that I personally use or has been purchased by many members of the audience and I have researched enough to recommend.
Today’s TSP Item of the day is the 1.5 Quart Courant Mini Slow Cooker. I started looking for a good small slow cooker a while ago to solve a few issues.
The biggest one being in staying keto the number one thing I have found that helps is having food ready in advance, especially for lunch. Dinner is a pretty solid thing, you take out a steak or what have you and when dinner comes around you cook it. Everyone has had the experience though with lunch, you kind of forget about it, next thing you know it is 2 or 3 in the after noon and you are ready to eat a doorknob if you don’t find some actual food soon. This is when we slip and eat something we shouldn’t because it is easy and quick.
Well with a slow cooker you can take the left overs from the night before (sometimes the last two nights even) and always come up with something with it. Some ideas will come at the end. But pretty much if I have some sausage left over, a half a steak, a few meat balls, a couple pieces of chicken, you name it. In about 10 minutes I can come up with some stuff, toss it in a slow cooker and the results are going to be damn good.
The problem comes in with full sized croc pots here in that we are talking 1-2 servings, not a giant family meal. And who the hell wants to have to clean a giant croc pot if you don’t have to? Not me! Also when you put a small amount in a big croc you end up over cooking and it is also a cooked on the sides mess.
Next up most well almost all the small slow cookers have one setting “on” or if you are lucky “low” and “high”. Inevitably these are too hot or not hot enough. The 1.5 Quart Courant however has three like a full sized pot and they work. The warm is really a “warm setting” as it it will not simmer and if you drop it down to there it will keep say queso warm without scorching the hell out of it to the sides. The high setting will get you to an aggressive simmer, but not stupid hot with a full rolling boil. Low if about half full or more will end up eventually in a perfect bare simmer. That is a couple of small bubbles breaking through the surface every 2 to 3seconds in different spots.
The small footprint is awesome as well. It is really nice that if you want you can just toss the croc into the dishwasher. Though clean up is so easy I rarely do. The real advantage is it fits in the refrigerator without moving shelves around. The reason this is so nice is most of the time I make up my lunch for the next day right after dinner. I toss everything in, then chuck it in the fridge. I get up in the morning, make my coffee and just set the croc in the cooker and turn it on, usually high. By lunch everything is done and perfect. I usually drop it to low a about 1-2 hours in, then set it to warm about 30 minutes before I am ready to eat.
Because it is so small I just leave it next to my electric kettle on our coffee bar. This thing has gotten so much more use then our full size cookers, because frankly it is just so much more practical.
Here are some ideas with using it, not really recipes because that sort of goes counter to the way I use it. You just sort of decide the direction you want to go based on what you have on hand. Here are some things I have done lately.
I smoked a pork roast and when we got down to the last about 1/2 lb, I cut it up and tossed it in the croc. I added a hand full of dehydrated jalapeños, a TBS of chili powder, a few cloves of garlic, some diced celery, a handful of dehydrated tomatoes and cumin, salt and pepper. We had some pretty used up cilantro so I finely cut up the stalks into small pieces and tossed them in. Just covered with some chicken bone stock. It was really fantastic and close to smoked carnitas in how it came out.
One day I had two Italian sausages from grilling for company left over. So I sliced them in pieces and tossed them in, at that point I was not even sure what would go next. I checked the fridge and found a half pack of shiitake mushrooms. Oh, okay, cut up and in they go. Added some herbs I think it was along the lines of fennel seed, oregano, thyme, rosemary and a good pinch of red pepper flakes. Again covered with some stock, this time a bit more like a soup. Tossed in a couple TBS of pine nuts. When it was ready I simply went out to the garden and picked a big fistful of arugula and about half a dozen fresh basil leaves. Stirred those in for a few moments and it was flipping amazing.
Last night I looked in the fridge and saw about a third of a ring of andouille sausage. H’mm something something gumbo but no roux and all that flour on keto and I have no okra on hand right now. Look in freezer, yea we have plenty of frozen shrimp but don’t want those over cooked. Plan formed! Shrimp were cut up and lightly coated with Chef Paul’s Redfish Magic Seasoning to firm up for the next day. They go on a plate and into the fridge. Into the produce bin ah, oyster mushrooms, cut em up into the croc. What? Mushrooms don’t go in gumbo, you’re not the boss of me. Shrooms are my go to starch replacement in things like this. Then cut up sausage, dice in a rib of celery, a third of an onion, an Anihem pepper, two cloves of garlic and a handful of dehydrated tomatoes. A bit of Redfish Seasoning and some salt and pepper go in. Cover with stock this time some fish stock made with better than bouillon fish base. I don’t want those shrimp over cooked so I will put the pot on at coffee time then about an hour before lunch drop the temp to warm, stir in shrimp. Let the residual heat do the rest.
To me this is the fun of the thing, what do you have and what can you do with what you have? You end up with a meal for one or two, depending on your needs and then you simply give the dogs the tiny scrapings, 1-2 minutes of sink time and it is ready for the next go round. I don’t do this every day but in general 3-4 times a week. Anything that will over cook just add in at the time you want for the result you want. Like the above sausage/shrimp pseudo gumbo adding the shrimp near the end.
I know people think of big meals with croc pots. Likely this is why there are so few really good small ones. But big ones are just not practical to make use of small amounts of left overs. Like that half of a steak Dorothy always leaves behind but I don’t want it, cuz you know she likes her’s medium well. Man that always makes a good quick stew, often sort of a hunters stew, left over steak from one night, and say a pork chop from another. Add some celery, swiss chard ribs, and dehydrated tomato, finish off with fresh parsley from the garden. Always shrooms if you got em, dehydrated shiitakes do great for this one.
Left over chicken and want something a bit more elevated then “chicken soup”, how about Jamaican Jerk Chicken Soup”? Yea I just made it up, so what? You should know by now how I am with cooking, just roll with it! Toss cut up chicken into pot, add in a knob of fresh sliced ginger root, a tsp of Walkerswood Traditional Jamaican Jerk Seasoning. Some dehydrated corn is nice here, yea not keto but just say a TBS or two of it for some sweet to balance the heat. Dehydrated peppers too. Add enough chicken stock or broth and turn it on. If you eat rice add some cooked rice about an hour before lunch time, or you can use cauliflower rice to stay on the low carb train, it is all up to you. Or just some fine chopped summer squash or squash noodles right near the end. The rules are there are no rules!
As much cooking utility as this provides it also does something else wonderfully that a big crock just is not practical for at our scale, herbal salves. Fill about half way with chopped herbs (last one was a comfrey one with a tiny bit of peppermint and lemon balm for a better smell). Cover just barely with cheap olive oil (save the EVO for cooking). Set on low and wait about 5 hours. Drain off and thicken with bees wax (not in your croc), done.
Of course it will be great for those horrible cocktail wieners and such at parties if that is your bag too, but this one is so much more. It is also damn efficient energy wise, my Kill-A-Watt meter says it pulls about 30 watts on warm, 80 on low and 120 on high. Keep in mind that is from a cold start, so it is not a continuous draw. Once it reaches temp it cycles on and off to maintain that temp. All in it is about like running an old school light bulb.
Lastly you will notice a lot of use of dehydrated veggies in my ideas above and man this thing is great for that. By lunch time they are perfect and lend a ton of flavor to the final dish. This makes it easy to actually use all those wonderful dehydrated veggies on an ongoing basis. So check out the 1.5 Quart Courant Mini Slow Cooker, I really think it belongs in every prepper and homesteader kitchen.
Remember you can always find all of our reviews at TspAz.com
P.S. – Yep at 26 bucks this one is a bit more expensive then some similar ones and yep because it is a third party product you will wait a few more days for it to ship. Honestly after a ton of research I decided that it was “the one” for me. I always say, buy quality because junk ends up expensive. If you want a cheaper version this one is decent, the Maxi-Matic Electric Slow Cooker at only 15 bucks. From a variety of YouTubers though and reading the lower quality reviews on Amazon it seems to have some longevity issues. People don’t seem as happy with the temps either. As I always say, always be frugal, never be cheap. The Courant is high quality and that shows the second you take it out of the box.
P.S.S. – If you ask me to nit pick the one criticism I can come up with is the cord is a bit short. This is a non issue for me with where I keep mine in fact the short cord is great because it is long enough and not in the way. Just remember though with kitchen devices like this, if it is an issue these little one foot extension cords are just slick as heck and they do a lot of other cool things too.
P.S.S.S. – Never did three s’s before! You guys that work at an office. Just leave the cooker at your desk or what have you and take the little croc back and forth. When you get to work, drop it in and turn it on. When your co-workers are eating junk food and spending good money on bad food, you will be chowing down on very high quality gourmet “left overs”. This so beats the shit out of waiting in line to nuke something in Tupperware.