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If you got married in the 1970s, chances are one of your shower gifts was a “Crock Pot,” now more commonly known as a slow cooker. The outer shell of mine was in the popular color of the day—avocado. (Don’t you agree that styles and color trends often change for the better?)

That particular Crock-Pot, shaped rather like a pickle barrel without the center bulge, was more upright than roaster-shaped, which is to say you couldn’t fit in all that much. I recall making exactly one dish in it—kielbasa sausage and sauerkraut. I recall not making it very often. Relegated towards the back of a cupboard, the Crock-Pot eventually made some unknown bargain hunter quite happy at a garage sale.

Flash forward to this millenium, and an article that caught my eye in the January 29, 2003 edition of the New York Times. Noted cookbook author Mark Bittman’s “Low and Slow is the Way to Go” made me rethink my antiquated notions of slow cooker cooking. (His recipe for short ribs with Chinese flavors is off-the-hook delicious. I haven’t made it in a while but I should move it up in the rotation. Just re-reading this article made me want it.)

Reading his article for the first time made me covet the kind of slow cooker he was using. Unfortunately, the photo isn’t included in the online version of the story, but you can see it in my mise en place photo for today’s recipe. With its gleaming stainless steel shell and spacious oval shape, it’s one of my favorite pieces of kitchen equipment. I bought it nearly 10 years ago. I’m still using it. I love it. (But not as much as I love John.)

This recipe for poached salmon is delectable. I never prepared fish all that much back in Ohio; even though we lived near Lake Erie, I never made fried perch. I’m just not a huge fan of fried food. I also didn’t live near a good seafood store. I know people who rave about the seafood at Costco, but I prefer a small shop where they truck the fish in fresh daily, and everybody knows your name. Since moving to Richmond, I shop at Yellow Umbrella, where they truck their fish in two or three times a day. (I love Yellow Umbrella as much as I love my slow cooker.)

I bought a one-pound fillet of organically raised, low-density New Zealand salmon for this—it’s one of our favorites. The recipe comes from volume two of Lynn Alley’s wonderful book, The Gourmet Slow Cooker: Regional Comfort-Food Classics, published by Ten Speed Press. My thanks to Lynn for giving me permission to include her recipe in TMSW!

Copyright © 2006 by Lynn Alley. All rights reserved. Used with permission of the author.

Simple Poached Salmon

—Serves 4

1 cup water
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 yellow onion slice (I typically use 2)
1 lemon slice (I typically use about 3 slices)
1 sprig dill (If seasonal and the bunch is large. If using a packaged herb, I use about 4-5 sprigs…and I always buy organic)
1/2 teaspoon salt (I use Kosher)
4 (6-ounch salmon fillets…for two people I buy a one-pound fillet)

Combine the water and wine in the slow cooker and heat on high for 20 to 30 minutes. Add the onion, lemon, dill, salt, and salmon.

Cover and cook on high for about 20 minutes, until the salmon is opaque and cooked through according to taste. (Since I didn’t portion out the fillet, what you see below actually took longer than 20 minutes to cook—closer to 45 minutes.) Serve hot or cold.

From Lynn Alley’s notes to the recipe:

Poaching salmon, or any fish for that matter, in the slow cooker is a no-brainer. Although it isn’t a traditional dish for long, slow cooking, it is one of the things that the low, even temperatures of the slow cooker does well with. Poached salmon, needing no oil to cook, makes a light lunch paired with lemon rice. steamed vegetables, and salad, or a sumptuous dinner with herbed mashed potatoes and grilled vegetables. SUGGESTED BEVERAGE: Salmon, a classic Pacific Northwest ingredient, generally fits like a glove with pinot noir, Oregon’s most beloved grape.

My notes:

I serve this hot with rice pilaf and either roasted asparagus or sautéed spinach. Our wine that evening was James River Cellars’ Chardonel