Introduction: 4-in-1 Slow Cooker
I decided to fit a whole meal with all the sides into a slow cooker.
Step 1: Find the Right Fit
Find and arrange small food-safe ceramic, metal, or glass containers and arrange them in your crock pot to make sure they all can inside with the lid closed. Don't use plastic containers for this or canned food containers because they are often coated with a plastic interior. Round containers can work really well to fit into the curve of the slow cooker.
Step 2: Prep and Season the Food
Fill the containers and season or wrap with foil. Foods that can be cooked a long time work best. For the cherries I put salt, pepper, garlic powder and a drizzle of oil. For the cabbage I cut into chunks and put garlic powder, crushed red pepper flakes, pepper, and a home made vegetable seasoning mix. For the sweet potato i rinsed it in water then sprinkled it with salt on the outside. In the bottom of the dish for the beef short ribs I put equal portions of steak sauce and BBQ sauce, enough to cover the bottom. Then I seasoned the beef with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
Corn or beets would also be a good option to wrap in foil.
Step 3: Sear the Meat
Searing the meat in a little oil is optional but it adds a lot of flavor to the dish. Sear all around on medium high to high heat until golden brown.
Other cuts of meat good for slow cooking can be used like Tritip roast, Chuck roast, etc. Multiple small pieces cook faster than 1 large chunk so cut it up if you have a large piece.
Step 4: Place the First Layer
Arrange the first layer of the containers and add a little water so that it meets about half way up the container with the lowest opening. The water level will rise the more stuff thats put on top so make sure to pour the water in after putting down the first layer.
Step 5: Lid It and Set the Temperature
Place the seared meat back into the container and then lid the slow cooker. Times may vary depending on thickness of meat, type of meat and how tender you want it. I did mine for 5 hours on high and the meat was SPOON tender but the sweet potato was softer than I would like it so maybe 4 hours on high next time.
Step 6: Take Out Your Mini Buffet
Once done turn off the slow cooker, take off the lid and carefully remove the containers using a dish towel or oven gloves. Removing the meat with tongs first will drop the liquid level so it's easier to take the container out without spilling anything.
Step 7: Plate and Enjoy
Plate it and add any extra sauce, salt, or butter to the sweet potato after opening it. The liquid from the short ribs can be made into a sauce but they were great as is. There were enough vegetables for leftovers.
Step 8: Conclusion
The rates of cooking vary on a lot of these but by using smaller cuts of meat and longer cooking vegetables or vegetables that don't mind being cooked long like tomatoes you can have a delicious full meal all done in a slow cooker. You could even fit a desert in there by taking out one of the vegetables or finding better fitting containers.