Anything but chili: what to slow cook for multiple allergies
December 28, 2018 5:05 PM   Subscribe

What are some slow-cooker main dishes for potlucks / open house type meals that allow for working around allergies and other dietary restrictions? Give me all the ideas.

I want to serve something hearty, filling, and interesting but that will not harm my guests, and I'd like to have a few different options to rotate. It needs to be make ahead, where I get everything in the pots early in the day, stir every hour or so all day while I'm cleaning house, and then can stay on low heat for a couple of hours while people come and go.

I have two slow cookers, 4 and 6 qt, plus a 3 qt instant pot. I usually make two slow cookers full of food, once with meat and one without (vegetarian but not vegan). Ideally it's all the same ingredients in both, with additional meat in the one.

We just did chili last month, and discovered that a new friend is highly allergic to garlic and onions so could not partake; we can work around that next time but I'm getting pretty tired of chili. I had thought maybe a curry, but will that be ok without the onion and garlic?

The allergies I'm working with for New Year's are:
  • no onions, garlic, or anything else in that family
  • gluten free for celiac
  • shellfish allergy
  • tree nut allergy
  • plus one guest who keeps kosher but insists she already ate before coming over so please don't bother
posted by buildmyworld to Food & Drink (16 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I had thought maybe a curry, but will that be ok without the onion and garlic?

Jains do not eat onions or garlic and make excellent curries without them. Manjula's Kitchen is a popular and easy to follow recipe side that features exclusively Jain recipes.
posted by saeculorum at 5:14 PM on December 28, 2018 [8 favorites]

I would do congee with meat and veggies. I like brown rice base for health and flavor reasons, but white rice is delicious and more traditinal. Maybe chicken and peas and mushrooms, or beef and carrots and ginger. It’s a very flexible and filling format for slow-cooked meals. Works well with meat, vegetarian or vegan modes, I like dried tofu skins and wood ear mushroom in vegan versions.
posted by SaltySalticid at 5:15 PM on December 28, 2018 [3 favorites]

You can definitely do curries without onion and garlic. This is my go-to book for Vedic cooking, which does not use onion, garlic, mushrooms or meat. (no gluten either.) Manjula's Kitchen also has a lot of great recipes without onion or garlic.

(on preview, jinx, saeculorum!)
posted by chbrooks at 5:18 PM on December 28, 2018 [3 favorites]

A friend recently did an Ina Gartner corn chowder and a toppings bar with it that was fantastic. I’m not sure what’s in the soup itself but she did bowls of bacon bits, grated cheddar, chives, (something else I can’t remember?) for people to add into their individual bowls. It was excellent and apparently freezes nicely as well.
posted by raccoon409 at 5:26 PM on December 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

As others have said, you could definitely do a great curry without onion or garlic (or wheat or nuts, of course). I might do one central vat of vegan curry with plenty of veg* and then bake some chicken and tofu marinated in curry seasonings to be added as desired (you can do a sheet pan of onions that way too, in a bowl on the side), with basmati rice.

*My winterfood cravings have determined that brussels sprouts are amazing pressure-cooked or slow-cooked in curry, they get silky but still have density.

You could do baked potatoes in the slow cooker (or roast in the oven and keep warm in the crock) with a toppings bar that includes vegan chili with no onion/garlic. (Use the little IP to make pulled chicken as a topping too.) You can also do a mashed potato bar, same deal.

Nachos, with taco meat and Beyond crumbles as your meat options.

I have been on a tear with broccoli-cheese soup lately, and you could take a tip from the keto genre and make Fathead breadsticks (skip the garlic, dust with parm, and use the coconut flour alternate option to avoid almond flour) to go with. They're *really* good, and have a satisfying chewiness. You could offer a garlic butter drizzle/dip for those who can indulge.
posted by Lyn Never at 5:45 PM on December 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

Taco bar with salsa chicken and ground beef?
posted by notjustthefish at 5:50 PM on December 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

Bbq pulled chicken? You just need to find
a gluten free bbq sauce without onion or garlic powder, or make your own. And for the vegan option maybe there's a slow cooker bbq jackfruit recipe out there? Have gluten free buns, pickles, cole slaw on the side.
posted by at 6:17 PM on December 28, 2018

Carnitas are often made without garlic or onion. I find Mexican food works really well and is also easily gluten and nut free. You can take pretty much any recipe and just add a bit more of the other spices (cumin, coriander, cilantro, etc.) chili powders usually have garlic, so create your own (chipotle or cayenne, cumin, paprika). I also tend to cook without jalapeño these days due to children, but certainly spice is a good way to distract from a lack of onions/garlic as well.
posted by rainydayfilms at 6:57 PM on December 28, 2018

Also came in to say carnitas, they are amazing in the slow cooker. You can do just salt and pepper for seasoning and then put out some salsa verde and some bbq sauce, some Hawaiian bread biscuits and some tortillas, and some shredded cheese and let people create their own dinner masterpiece.

The last vegetarian meal I made was a lentil stew, but it included some of the ingredients you don't want. But maybe you could find something in that vein.
posted by vignettist at 7:05 PM on December 28, 2018

I often do a build-your-own taco bar with lots of tasty fillings for accommodating multiple complicated dietary restrictions. Easy to include meat, vegan, onion-free, gluten free, etc.
posted by octopodiatrist at 7:38 PM on December 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

This Quinoa Red Lentil Stew sounds delicious and meets all your guests' restrictions, I think.
posted by taz at 8:45 PM on December 28, 2018

Baked potato bar! Everyone gets their own baked potato and assembles toppings as desired! Pair with salad to mitigate the carb overload.
posted by larthegreat at 10:27 PM on December 28, 2018

Split pea soup with ham and bacon (or not, your choice). Can easily be made ahead of time and the array of things to go with could include cornbread, crackers, a cheese tray, veggie tray, etc.
posted by Lynsey at 11:44 AM on December 29, 2018

Thanks everyone. I am currently covered in curry powder due to a dex fail unsealing the jar, but am proceeding with one pot of veggie curry and one with just chicken curry so each can combine to their desired proportion. Planning to make rice in the instant pot closer to serving time.

it bodes well for the new year that my dex fail resulted in me smelling like food rather than bleeding on the potatoes
posted by buildmyworld at 8:26 AM on December 31, 2018 [2 favorites]

Depending on your friend's type of kosher observance, there may not be anything you can cook for her since your pots-pans-knives-dishes have all been exposed to unkosher foods. So I wouldn't worry about that unless she has previously indicated willingness to eat, say, vegetarian fare.
posted by Lady Li at 2:33 PM on December 31, 2018 [1 favorite]

Jain recipes are a great idea for your friend with the allergy, though (such a hard restriction for many cuisines.)
posted by Lady Li at 2:34 PM on December 31, 2018

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