I was recently introduced to a new way of slow cooking, from a brand with a both a social and environmental conscious. It is called the Wonderbag, and rather than constantly generating low heat to cook and tenderize, it uses insulative technology to preserve existing heat to do the job. This not only saves energy, but makes the process of cooking itself portable. Once you complete a short initial cooking time, the covered pot is safely tucked into the Wonderbag and snugged close with a latched drawstring. Slow cooking in a Wonderbag is so easy.
Why Do I Like the Wonderbag?
This slow cooker process appealed to me, since I am fond of browning meat a bit before braising for added flavor. By the time I’ve browned and deglazed meat in my Dutch oven, I am not about to then dump the contents into an appliance to cook further (I’m not that fond of doing dishes), so I typically end out just simmering it on the stove top. Now, with the Wonderbag I can cook in my style, not dirty anything extra, save energy and get great slow cooker results.
Not only can I slow cook in this pretty bag, but I can take it on the road. How convenient to spend a few minutes getting a meal started, pop it into the Wonderbag and bring it along with you to whip out a freshly cooked hot meal for friends or family when you reach your destination. No need for plugs. No need to worry about spilling or making a mess, the pot’s lid is secured in the snugly tied bag & it’s wide base is unlikely to budge, even if you slam on the brakes (but let’s not do that).
Cooking in a Wonderbag
At first I must admit, I was a bit incredulous that this would really retain the heat well enough to do the job. So, being the cruel taskmaster I am, I put the Wonderbag to work cooking one of the things I am most fussy about… chicken thighs. If not cooked properly, I find them downright revolting. I decided to stew the thighs in a dried plum sauce with ginger (yes, dried plums are prunes… but use the word prune and people wrinkle up their noses at you with visions of old ladies and regularity). Well, low and behold, the chicken came out fantastic. The stuff that needs to dissolved did, the chicken broke apart easily, but wasn’t dry & the sauce was rich and flavorful. #Win
This is perfect to help prepare for storm related power outages, and would be a great for bringing meals to friends who are grieving or have a seriously ill family member, as they have a long window of time to open it for a hot & ready meal.
Not only is a Wonderbag a great gift (why not make a meal and deliver it in their new Wonderbag… for a 2-in-1 gift), but for each Wonderbag purchased another is donated to a poor family in Africa. While a Wonderbag is handy and energy saving for us, it can make a huge difference for these families. For the women in these families, gathering the water and fuel used for cooking takes up a large part of their time. Women and girls often have to travel far distances to gather the wood for cooking, placing themselves in danger of rape and other violence & using up time which could have been devoted to schooling. Households with a Wonderbag are able to greatly reduce both their fuel and water usage, enabling them to lead a safer and more productive life. This is exactly why Wonderbag was developed.
Follow the story and developments of this great company on Facebook, as they continue to help families gain the opportunity to get out of poverty and help the environment while they are at it. They are also available on Twitter, and if you are a more visual person, follow along on Instagram.
- 3 strips of bacon (center cut or trimmed)
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 1 cup diced prunes
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- ⅛ tsp cayenne
- 1 tbs oil
- 1½ lbs boneless chicken thighs, trimmed & cut into approx 3x3" chunks
- ½ cup orange juice
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- 3 tbs low sodium soy sauce
- 2 tbs honey
- 2 bay leaves
- Place dutch oven or pot over med-high heat. Chop the bacon into small bits and drop into pan. Once it starts brown and render fat, add the onion and garlic. Stir.
- Once the onion and garlic are cooked add the prunes, ginger, cinnamon and cayenne, cook for a minute, then reserve to a bowl and set aside.
- Pout the oil into pan (still on med-high), then drop chicken into pan. Cook for 4-5 minutes until starting to brown, then flip and cook another 3 minutes.
- Add the remaining ingredients to pan, stir to deglaze, and add the bacon/prune mixture back to pan, stir and bring to a boil. Reduce to low-med and cook for 5 minutes, then take off burner and seal up in Wonderbag.
- Allow to slow cook for 3-4 hours, then serve over rice or bulgur or pull the chicken and serve in sandwiches or tacos shells.