What can I cook sans-stove?
January 30, 2008 12:59 PM   Subscribe

What can I cook with a countertop grill, a crock pot, and no stove?

I'll be visiting my boyfriend in Winnipeg at the end of next month--we live in different cities and can only work in a couple visits each year, and, typically, I would do a fair amount of cooking (I enjoy cooking, he enjoys eating--it works out rather well).

The problem: since my last visit, he's moved into a new house and currently lacks a functioning stove (the house's wiring won't support one--this isn't going to be fixed between now and then). The only cooking devices I'll have recourse to, aside from a microwave and a toaster oven, are a crock pot I bought him as something of a joke gift, last year (I'm pretty sure it's still in its box, unopened and unused--that is, assuming his skiddy friends haven't figured out a way to distill codeine in it) and a countertop grill of the George Foreman kind. The problem is that I've never used either of these pieces of equipment, and I'm fairly stumped as to what I can make with them.

I've of course come across scads of slow cooker recipes, but a) having never worked with a crock pot, I'm finding it difficult to assess which ones are going to yield something palatable, and b) most of them require a stove for some part of the process. I should think the grill could do some of the stove stuff (browning onions and whatnot), though I might be wrong about that.

Either specific recipes or general tips pertinent to stoveless cooking would be greatly appreciated. FWIW, neither of us eat meat (which has put a further damper on the recipe hunt--both Foreman grill and crock pot owners seem to be, as a group, rather fond of the stuff); I'm pretty good at modifying recipes to exclude it, though. Mostly I'm just worried about blowing a lot of money on ingredients and winding up with giant batches of slowly-simmered crap.

He'd probably be happy with two weeks of crock pot chilli and grilled sandwiches, but, you know, I don't see him that often, and I'd like to make at least a few things a bit more "special" than those. Super-double-plus bonus points for Indian or Middle Eastern recipes, although those (particularly the former) seem like long shots, given the equipment at hand.
posted by wreckingball to Food & Drink (24 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
If a crockpot is something that heats itself, then I'd guess you could do a nice layered rice + lentils + veggies dish in it. I've cooked meals like that in a pot in a slow oven very successfully. Rice at the bottom, then red lentils (the small, split kind), then cauliflower + carrots + broccoli at the top. Judging the water is the only slightly tricky bit. I don't soak the rice, so use about 1.5 C per C of rice, and similar amount per lentils.

I'd guess you can probably add flavorings (but have not tried this), so you can experiment with "Easternizing" it easily ... apricot + yoghurt, maybe?
posted by anadem at 1:16 PM on January 30, 2008

This doesn't answer your question at all, but: Why not get a cheap hot plate?
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 1:19 PM on January 30, 2008

The big question is how hot either of these implements can get. For the grill, it's a question of whether it gets hot enough to brown/sear. For the crockpot, it's whether it has a setting that can maintain a simmer or (better yet) a boil. It doesn't have to get to boiling quickly, as you could use the microwave for an initial boost if you need to boil a lot of water or something. The toaster oven may also be able to give you decent heat (maybe a broil setting?). A secondary question is whether the grill has a smooth surface or just a grill surface, and what kind of lip it has. I can't guess at the answers, but your SO could presumably check. With the right answers to these questions, I'd say that you could make almost anything.
posted by madmethods at 1:28 PM on January 30, 2008

Response by poster: qxntpqbbbqxl: it may very well come to that. idunno, i'm kind of curious to see if i'm up to the challenge. also, if i can successfully demonstrate the crockpot's usefulness, it's less likely that his friends will use it to make drugs.

madmethods: this is the model of the crockpot. it just says it has a "hi" setting, and amazon reviews and whatnot don't mention whether it can sustain a boil. i'm pretty sure that the grill is just a grill, with no changeable plates, but i'll have to check on that.
posted by wreckingball at 1:41 PM on January 30, 2008

With a cheap hot plate, you will be able to cook anything that you could on a stove. You should be able to get one for about $15. If you have enough money to buy a crockpot as a joke, this shouldn't present an obstacle.
posted by yohko at 1:41 PM on January 30, 2008

Response by poster: had, had enough money to buy a crockpot as a joke. it's dry times for joke appliances, i'm afraid.
posted by wreckingball at 1:43 PM on January 30, 2008

Lots of good crock pot recipes here.
posted by jerseygirl at 1:50 PM on January 30, 2008

Any soups and stews, chowders, that sort of thing do well in a crock pot, and there are lots of recipes for "roasts" and other main course style meat dishes. I would think some Indian recipes that use sauces could be fairly easily adapted and maybe even able to cook with the rice at the same time. Indeed a search for crock pot curry or tandoori turned up some promising recipes.

The George Foreman works for anything you'd grill, obviously. Meats, of course, but I think you could do panini-style sandwiches, too, as well as some vegetables.

I think a bit of creativity and the right attitude will get you far.
posted by 6550 at 2:32 PM on January 30, 2008

When I lived in Prague we had NOTHING but a hot plate -- I'd have killed for what you've got. (Also, I would have committed MANY sins for a proper piece of toast, but that's neither here nor there).

There's a ton of "one pot cooking" books and websites out there -- use "one pot" as your search term and you should be fine. The grill you can probably fry up some lovely veg, or meat or other things to add into the crock pot yummies.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 2:45 PM on January 30, 2008

There are about 5 million crockpot recipes on the internet. You throw some food in when you wake up, and when you get home you have delicious smells filling the house and dinner. Also see "slow cooking".
posted by herbaliser at 2:48 PM on January 30, 2008

You can do pretty much any tagine/stew recipe in a crockpot. The basic idea is thus:

Hunk of meat (shoulder of any animal is good for this)
Can of good-quality peeled tomatoes.
Onion, chopped
Dried fruit like apricots, currants, figs (optional)

Turn on high for a couple of hours, leave on low overnight. Pull meat out and pick out bones and big chunks of fat that didn't render. Meanwhile, turn crockpot back to high to let the liquid reduce down a bit. Add meat back in to rewarm.

For lamb in particular I strain the mixture into a bowl so that I can use some icecubes to defat the liquid, then I throw everything back in.

Serve over rice or couscous prepared in the microwave.
posted by desuetude at 3:00 PM on January 30, 2008

If you have a crockpot and ingredients, there's really nothing more you need in life. I've managed to get amazing results with this recipe, and it doesn't require much in the way of preparation or ingredients.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 3:18 PM on January 30, 2008

Oops! Copied the wrong information. Try this.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 3:20 PM on January 30, 2008

Crock pot apple betty
posted by Sara Anne at 3:57 PM on January 30, 2008

Aloo Gobi in the crockpot. Basmati rice in the microwave. Voila.
posted by Stewriffic at 4:19 PM on January 30, 2008

Or, for that matter, Channa masala or any number of
Indian dishes.

Don't sautee the things they say you need to. Use the crockpot as a place to boil things--use canned beans.

Indian is great for crockpots.
posted by Stewriffic at 4:31 PM on January 30, 2008

my mother was a ridiculous user of the crock-pot; she adapted a lot of her favorite curries to crock-pot usage. It might be a little harder without a stove, but I'm pretty sure you could toast the spices and brown the onions/garlic/ginger in some oil in the toaster oven, before adding them to the stuff in the crock pot.
On a vegetarian note, I find freezing and defrosting fresh tofu to work really well in slower cooking; it changes the texture entirely to something chewier.
posted by heeeraldo at 5:03 PM on January 30, 2008

Try these
posted by alcopop at 5:17 PM on January 30, 2008

Tap, tap

FWIW, neither of us eat meat (which has put a further damper on the recipe hunt--both Foreman grill and crock pot owners seem to be, as a group, rather fond of the stuff)

wreckingball is asking for assistance with vegetarian recipes, so, you know, that means that recipes involving hunks of meat are probably not going to be helpful. Just thought I'd reiterate that.
posted by mumkin at 5:55 PM on January 30, 2008

If you can get water to a boil in the crockpot (or in a pot on the grill) then you've got a huge world of recipes designed for camping available to you.

But yeah, if you can somehow stretch the budget to a hotplate then you've got it made. If the budget is really that slim you might try the various charity stores that sell donated items. They tend to have a fair of old kitchen gear on the very, very cheap.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 5:56 PM on January 30, 2008

Ooops. Thanks mumkin.

Skip the hunk of meat, add root vegetables. Off you go.
posted by desuetude at 7:57 PM on January 30, 2008

Oh, and the crockpot isn't really going to get water to a boil, just a good solid simmer. But it's a moot point, since there's a microwave.
posted by desuetude at 7:59 PM on January 30, 2008

The grill can do good grilled veggies. Try bell pepper chunks, onion slices, mushrooms, etc.
posted by jjj606 at 8:21 PM on January 30, 2008

posted by mdonley at 2:28 AM on January 31, 2008

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