On Yom Kippur, we fast and deny ourselves sensual enjoyment; on Purim we feast. So Purim is known for costumes, drunken revelry and…meat! Yes, there is genuine rabbinic commentary on exactly what kind of meat one should consume during the Purim feast. This comes from various rabbinic ideas about what it means to “feast” in the biblical sense.
Whether your idea of a feast involves beef, chicken, lamb or chickpeas, there’s nothing like a crockpot of slowly bubbling goodness to make you want to celebrate. And the best part: if you put up the slow cooker before you start drinking, chances are you will have a perfectly cooked meal to serve when you are in no condition to cook.
Beyond the commentary, the shivery last push of winter often marks Purim in our Mid-Atlantic climate, and a hearty, meaty, nourishing crockpot fulfills several different mitzvot (commandments) at once.
Of course, there’s nothing mitzvah-like about a CAFO (confined animal feeding operation), so make sure to source your meat from someone who’s raising animals right. KOL Foods and Grow and Behold have beautiful meats for those who keep kosher, and a trip to the farmer’s market can supply non-kosher-keepers with plenty of ethical, sustainably raised local options.
A great thing about crockpot cooking is you can buy the cheapest cuts of the highest-quality meat you can find!
Naf Hanau, owner of Grow and Behold, says his current favorite for an affordable crockpot feast is chuck pot roast. He recommends browning the meat and then putting it in the crockpot with beef broth, bay leaf, dried rosemary and chopped onions for eight hours on high. He adds some potatoes and carrots an hour before serving.
I like to tell people that when making pickles, 75 percent of the quality of your finished pickle is in the quality of the vegetables with which you start. Contrary to pickling, slow cooking really is magic—what you get out is better then what you put in. The toughest, cheapest cut of meat can be transformed into ambrosia with a little bit of liquid and eight to ten hours of slow cooking.
Slow cookers are a modern convenience, but they draw upon millennia of food wisdom. Cook something over low, even heat for hour after hour, and it turns into the taste of comfort. Whether soup, stew or a rich braised meat, it’s hard to go wrong with a slow cooker, and with some trial and error and a word or two from the experts, it’s easy to go really right.