I like using my crock pot. A lot. The idea of gathering a bunch of ingredients and just letting it cook without interference is perfect for someone like me: working mother, scatterbrained multi-tasker, culinary-corner-cutter. But using it every day seems… impossible.
It was not impossible for Stephanie O’Dea, who in 2008 did one crock pot meal a day. That’s a lot of cooking… and frankly a lot scrubbing, and I don’t know about her but I hate cleaning my big behemoth of a crock pot. Her site, which I found from this pin on Pinterest, chronicles her journey with a recipe for every day of the year, and on the post from January 27 I found the recipe for lasagne in the crock pot.
Lasagne in the crock pot? For realsies? I can make my favorite meal, the meal I always requested my mother make for birthdays and special events and post-giving-birth-food-gifting… in the crock pot? Um, YES I want to try this!
And try it I did, with Shakespearean results. Unfortunately they were more Romeo and Juliet and less As You Like It.
Stephanie’s blog post title said “Super Easy!” and sure, it was quite easy to assemble, cooking the meat mixture first and layering everything like you would normal lasagne… and you don’t even need to cook the noodles, what?!
That looks delightful, doesn’t it? Having assembled this creation on my first Saturday back from my Argentina trip, I left the house to visit with my parents across town with thoughts of the fabulous smells that would fill my house during the day, and the cheesy lasagne that would be in my belly that evening. Sadly, I learned the hard way that this is not a fix-it-and-forget-it kind of crock pot meal. This is a crock pot meal that requires monitoring to make sure that the meat mixture, spinach, cheese, or noodles don’t begin to burn while cooking.
Which is exactly what mine did while I was out of the house all day.
Six hours and 15 minutes later I walked in the door, arms full of Squirrel and her accoutrements, to the smell of burning. Food burning. Meat burning. It was worse than that burnt popcorn smell that lingers in your house or office kitchen for freakin’ days. And there were still 45 minutes left on the crock pot timer.
As I removed the lid I’m pretty sure the neighbors heard my wails of despair.
After peeling off the layer of toasted cheese and scraping off the burnt ends of noodles, the meal was salvageable, but not nearly as palatable as I’d hoped. Everything tasted like grease, including the ricotta, which is my very favorite part of traditional oven lasagne. The different flavors and generous spices seemed to be lost in the I AM FROM A COW overpowering beef/grease taste. Besides the sub par result, the fact that I cannot just set this bad boy up to cook for 7-8 hours and not worry about it defeats the purpose of my idea of crock-potting it up.
Thus ends my first foray into unconventional crock pot cooking. Maybe my main mistake was using beef instead of turkey. Maybe this would work better with just veggies… and maybe I’ll actually try it again someday. When I have four hours to babysit a crock pot.
Moral of the Tutorial – By all means, keep cooking all-day meals in the crock pot, as long as whatever you’re cooking is soup (or is allowed to look like it).
Thank you for reading and for not judging me, even when I majorly screw up an attempted Pinventure. No secrets, blog readers! You get the good and the bad!