I know I’m a little late to the game. OK, I’m decades late to the game, but I just recently got my first ever slow cooker, sometimes referred to generically as a Crock-Pot, and I feel like a horribly self-deprived asshole for believing they existed only to steam massive vats of chili. On the contrary, I’ve come to find out, slow cookers are magical kettles that warm and steadily marry what’s within them to create the extraordinary. They have different settings — from slow cook to pressure cook — and, guys, you can leave them on for hours and come home to a delectable creation!
OK, OK, this may not be news. You may have been whipping up soups and stews and cobblers (yes, you can make a cobbler in a Crock-Pot) since you were a young tyke. I get it. You’ve probably been sampling the likes of your mother’s vegetable soup a la Crock-Pot since before the first Bush administration, but… have you been drinking from it? That’s right, friends, you can make slow-cooker libations in the comfort of your own kitchen, and just as Kentucky’s late fall frost begins to creep among us, at that. Crock-Pot cocktails, anyone? I’ve got a few recipes for you — to leave party guests drooling, or simply get sloshed solo and feel toasty warm on the couch.
The Hot Chata: Fill the Crock-Pot halfway with eggnog, and half with unsweetened vanilla almond milk. Add half a bag of Andes Crème de Menthe baking chips, two cups of Rum Chata and a couple of liberal shots of light rum (heavy on the liberal, if you’re like me). Add a few dashes of vanilla extract and a tablespoon of nutmeg, and slow cooker that deliciousness on high (not boiling) for 60 minutes or so. If you want to get real fucking fancy, grab some peppermints, toss them in a bag and slam it around on the counter, with a canned good, whatever you like, and use that to garnish the rim of your mugs. Finish with whip cream and a few marshmallows, and you clearly win girls night in… forever.
The Chamomile Toddy: the ultimate elixir for when you’re feeling crummy and cold. Fill your Crock-Pot with water and two cups of bourbon (or, frankly, as much as you’d like to taste), 10-12 chamomile tea bags, a quarter cup local honey, two lemons (sliced), a few cinnamon sticks and a star anise. Simmer all ingredients on low for around two hours, ladle that warm goodness into your favorite mug and feel that Kentucky hug. Ahhhhhh. Pro-tip: when you’ve turned off the slow cooker, and the concoction has cooled, pour over ice and top with extra dry champagne for a refreshing chilled drink.
Mulled Wine: While we all may have had mulled wine at a family holiday a time or two, my version takes it to another level with locally-made Copper & Kings Brandy. Combine two 750-milliliter bottles of merlot (two-buck chuck from Trader Joe’s works just fine), four ground cloves, the zest of one orange, two sliced apples, three cups of apple cider, cinnamon sticks (use two in the slow cooker and one in each mug as a garnish when finished), two cups of Copper & Kings small batch American Brandy (finished in bourbon barrels, of course), one star anise and a quarter cup of local honey. Let all this juicy deliciousness marry together on low for three to four hours — these flavors will begin to dance, and your house will smell divine. Remove the lid, breathe it in, portion it out into mugs and finish it with a slice of orange and a cinnamon stick. Perfect for holiday soirées, dinner parties, Monday mornings, etc.
These delectable delights are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the glorious concoctions that can come from a Crock-Pot, as I’m finding out. I plan on spending some time in the kitchen with various spirits and ingredients to dazzle my friends, get them buzzed, and keep them warm throughout the cold months. Hot buttered Fernet, anyone?