We mentioned in a recent weekend roundup that we were planning on using the slow cooker for our weekend cooking. The slow cooker is invaluable in hot weather; you can start it up in the morning and then come home after work to a still-cool kitchen and a freshly cooked meal.
The only problem with slow cookers is, well, slow cooker food. Slow cookers make us think of hearty stews, braised brisket, and starchy fall vegetables. But they are also extraordinarily good at cooking meat, which can be turned into lighter, more suitable hot weather food. We have two recipes here that are ideal for hot weather eating. They get the hot and sticky meat cooking out of the way, leaving you with plenty of shredded chicken or pork for tasty sandwiches, salads, and pasta.
Slow-Cooked Pork Roast
Slow-cooked pork roast is a fabulous hot weather meal. We like to cook a big (cheap) pork roast with some garlic and a handful of chilies. Then we shred it all to pieces and either douse it in barbecue sauce, or pile onto buns with coleslaw. It's barbecue the easy way!
This recipe also makes a lot, so try freezing the shredded meat in individual portions. Then defrost for quick meals later. You can stir-fry a little shredded pork with summer vegetables and eat over rice for a super-quick weeknight meal.
• Get the recipe: Slow-Cooked Pork Roast, Two Ways
• Also, see more info and inspiration on CrockPot barbecue here: Make This at Home: Pulled Pork BBQ
Tender shredded chicken is a great base for many warm-weather dishes. Creamy chicken salad, pasta salads with olives and chicken, orzo tossed with fresh herbs. But who wants to roast a chicken in this hot weather? Throw the chicken in the slow cooker overnight, let cool in the fridge during the day, then come home from work and shred to pieces.
• Get the recipe: Slow Cooker Lemon Garlic Chicken - Just skip most of the seasoning and let the chicken cook all day in a little broth or wine.
Here are a few favorite recipes that call for shredded chicken.
• Recipe: Dill and Yogurt Chicken Salad
• Recipe: Orzo Salad with Rosemary Almonds and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
• Recipe: Broccoli and Feta Pasta Salad
Related: Review: Crock-Pot Versaware Pro Slow Cooker
(Images: Faith Hopler and Elizabeth Passarella for The Kitchn)