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Slow-cooker recipes call for longer cooking times but little effort

Quick look: No stirring. No peeking. Just prep the ingredients and place them inside the slow cooker. An hour to 11 hours later, the dish is done – with little effort on the part of the chef.

What’s inside: Warm up this winter with comforting stews, soups and casseroles that call for longer cooking times but little hands-on effort. Like the name suggests, this soft-cover cookbook offers 500 recipes that home cooks can fix and forget – at least for awhile.

Unfussy recipes are divided into 16 chapters, organized by type of dish or ingredients: breakfast and brunches, appetizers, lunches and light bites, soups, stews and casseroles, chicken and poultry, fish and seafood, beef, lamb, pork, desserts, drinks and more. Most are accompanied by photographs.

There are breakfast dishes that cook for 8 to 9 hours overnight so home cooks can wake up to Vanilla Breakfast Prunes and Figs or Breakfast Baked Tomatoes.

The quickest slow-cooking recipes take 40 to 60 minutes to make. Most take between 4 and 8 hours.

Look for Caramelized Onion Soup, Irish Stew, Creamy Chicken Korma, Beef Bourguignon, Pot-Roast Lamb with Rosemary and Baked Ham in Cola. Vegetarian dishes include Green Bean Risotto with Pesto, Mixed Mushroom and Lentil Braise, Mushroom and Walnut Cobbler and Lentil tagine with Pomegranate. For desserts, there are mainly puddings and cakes. Hot beverages, which take 3 to 4 hours to make, include coffee liqueur-spiked Skier’s Hot Chocolate, Hot Mexican Coffee, Cider Toddy, Mulled Wine and Hot Buttered Rum.

The introduction includes helpful tips for novice slow-cooker users, such as no peeking. Every time the lid is lifted, it adds another 10 to 15 minutes of cooking time.

What’s not: Hearts signify recipes under 500 calories. That’s assuming per serving, not per entire dish, but the key at the front of the book doesn’t specify. There’s no other nutritional info provided per recipe.

Pot-Roast Lamb with Rosemary

From “Slow Cooker 500 Recipes” by Sara Lewis

1/2 lamb shoulder on the bone

3 rosemary sprigs

1 red onion, cut into wedges

2 tablespoons red currant jelly

1 cup red wine

1 cup lamb stock

Salt and pepper

Preheat slow cooker, if necessary. Put lamb in slow-cooker pot, set rosemary on top, tuck onion wedges around sides of meat.

Add red currant jelly to a small saucepan and pour in wine and stock. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, stirring so that the jelly melts, then pour the mixture over the lamb. Cover with the lid and cook on high for 7 to 8 hours or until a knife goes through the center of the lamb easily and the meat is almost falling off of the bone.

Lift meat out of slow-cooker pot and put it on a serving plate along with the onions. Discard the rosemary sprigs and pour the wine and stock mixture into a pitcher to serve as gravy. Carve the lamb onto plates and serve with steamed green vegetables and baby potatoes.

Yield: 4 servings

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