Watch This, Cook That: A Guide to Maximizing Netflix and Chill
For a trio of pretty benign words, Netflix and chill sure carries a lot of weight these days. No longer just a combination of two separate things people do on the weekends, Netflix and chill—comprising three words that invite a tempting, slightly salacious thrill—has become a thing. But what does it really mean, anyway? Like so many vague turns of phrase, in some ways, it’s open to interpretation. If the primary way you communicate with your friends is on Snapchat and you’ve unironically said “it’s lit” in the past six months, it might mean sex. If you were around to watch new episodes of Gilmore Girls when they aired every Tuesday night at 8 p.m. on The WB, it takes on a more literal meaning—as in literally sitting on the couch (with an S.O., friends, or yourself) and binge-watching the entirety of Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life in one sitting. For the purposes of today’s piece, we’re going with the latter interpretation—and that's where the food comes in.
No Netflix sesh, whether you’re bingeing a whole season or not, is complete without a delicious indulgence. Now that you’re home for the holidays, or soon will be, why not take this chance to upgrade your typical Netflix-and-chill situation with something slow-cooked and delectable? The best part about making a meal in a slow cooker is all the time it frees you up to do other, more useful things, such as artfully dodge blindly insensitive questions about your perpetual singledom, decorate your Christmas tree like a pro, or, yes, get your Netflix on. Below we’ve rounded up six movies (some sleeper hits and a few must-see classics) you need to be streaming on Netflix and paired each one with a slow-cooker recipe to enhance the viewing experience. Play your cards right, and you could take that first tasty bite just as things start to get interesting. Timing is everything.
Amélie + French Onion Soup With Cheesy French Toast
Miramax; Half Baked Harvest
The Flick: As the second-highest-grossing French film to hit the States to date, Amélie is probably already on your radar. But maybe it’s one of those movies or books you pretend to know about but never actually watch or read (much like every single Dostoyevsky novel, for example; Crime and Punishment, I’m still coming for you…). Well, there’s no better time than the holidays to enjoy this contemporary classic about a quirky café waitress who earnestly tries to instill a little joie de vivre in those around her.
The Food: This pairing is, admittedly, a little on the nose, but this delightfully indulgent recipe is too good to pass up. Making the soup is a fairly time-intensive process, so it’s best to get this one started in the morning. The smell of simmering onions wafting throughout the house all day will remind you of the pleasant evening meal to come. Wear a beret and really just go for it—no judgment here.
The Trip + Slow-Cooker Baked Oatmeal With Bananas and Nuts
IFC Films; Foodie Crush
The Flick: Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon are two British actors/comedians who set out on a road trip through northern England to review a series of restaurants. It sounds innocent enough, but with the two playing slightly exaggerated versions of themselves, things start to take a turn for the hilarious; think dueling Sean Connery impersonations and over-the-hill men attempting to peacock in front of young women. On a more serious note, the food looks remarkable. Whoever thought up this winning combination was onto something; there’s even a sequel: The Trip to Italy. Andiamo!
The Food: Most home kitchens aren’t set up to unveil the culinary delights these guys get to indulge in on their trip (duck-fat lollipops, for example), so why not go for a classic oldie but goodie: breakfast for dinner? Slow cooker–baked oatmeal is a simple but delicious standby; it won’t distract from the humor and foam-adorned–scallop situation on your screen, but it will keep you satisfied with a tasty combination of oats, applesauce, bananas, and cinnamon that simmer down to something akin to what might be the greatest meal of all: dessert.
Jiro Dreams of Sushi + Crispy Caramelised Pork Ramen Noodle Soup
Magnolia Pictures; Half Baked Harvest
The Flick: This must-see documentary from 2012 is an exploration of dedication and a love story to one man’s pursuit of his craft. Jiro Ono, sushi chef and owner of what many consider to the best sushi restaurant in the world, Sukiyabashi Jiro—it’s inside a Ginza subway station—has been perfecting his skills since he was just 9 years old. Ono’s sushi-making rituals and focus will inspire foodies, sushi lovers, and people who just love a good story. If your family can’t decide on what to watch, this is a definite crowd-pleaser.
The Food: Subway sushi might work if you’re the greatest sushi chef in the world, but crockpot sushi isn’t happening for anyone. Instead, opt for another crowd-pleaser: ramen. This pork-based ramen hits all the right spots—spice from curry and sambal oelek, the tang of fish sauce, and savory roasted squash.
Nightcrawler + Slow-Cooked Mexican Pulled Beef & Beans on Soft Cheesy Polenta
Open Road Films; From the Kitchen
The Flick: On the flip side, in Nightcrawler, an unusually creepy Jake Gyllenhaal plays a budding L.A. crime journalist whose dedication to his job brings him dangerously close to crossing professional and legal lines. Literally out for blood, he speeds around Los Angeles in the middle of the night, trying to arrive first to home invasions and deadly car crashes to film the grisly scenes. Somewhere along the way, he goes too far and risks everything he’s worked for to get the shot. Think you’ve been there when standing on a wobbly chair to get that perfect overhead Instagram? Think again. Gyllenhaal proves the path to perfection gets dark—way dark.
The Food: Gyllenhaal’s unnerving performance in Nightcrawler might start to leave a bad taste in your mouth. Nip that in the (taste)bud with a savory, cheesy delight of pulled beef and beans on polenta. Pop the brisket in the slow cooker in the morning to make sure it’s ready on time, and plan on enjoying a wholesome and comforting end-of-day meal while watching Gyllenhaal toe the line of decency and morality.
Lovesick + 5-Ingredient Crockpot Chocolate Bars
Netflix; Half Baked Harvest
The Flick: Lovesick* is a UK-based comedy that follows a young man, the goofy but likable Dylan (far right, above), who finds out he has a venereal disease and embarks on a quest to warn all his ex-partners. From this ridiculous premise spring forth anecdotes, both past and present, involving a revolving cast of ladies and Dylan’s ever present besties/roomies, Evie and Luke. Chances are you’ve passed over season one of this show due to its original title, Scrotal Recall. Don’t make that mistake again. Season two was just released in November, and it’s as funny, sweet, and British as the first.
The Food: Prep for a saccharine evening with Lovesick by getting these chocolate bars in the slow cooker. The salty-sweet mixture of pumpkin seeds, pretzels, butterscotch, chocolate, and peanut butter makes for an irresistible snack to munch on as you make your way through both seasons of Lovesick. In fact, better make extra.
*So this technically isn’t a "flick," but let’s not let a silly thing like semantics get in the way of binge-worthy greatness.
Upstream Colour + Slow-Cooker Vegetarian Lasagna Soup
ERPB Films; Foodie Crush
The Flick: It’s honestly pretty hard to talk about Upstream Colour. It’s a feat of storytelling and craftsmanship, that’s for sure, and, once again, of dedication and perseverance: Shane Carruth, the film’s male lead, wrote, directed, edited, produced, scored, cast, and starred in the film himself. At the most basic level, it’s a story about the connection between a couple, a set of pigs, and blue orchids. If you want to get philosophical, which the film all but insists, it’s a meditation on identity—do we control it, or does it control us? For any deeper understanding, you’ll have to watch the film. Twice.
The Food: Trust that you’re not going to be feeling any carnivorous cravings while watching this film. Instead, cry (because you’ll definitely be crying) into a bowl of delicious vegetarian lasagna soup that will dutifully do its part to lessen your existential angst with the ever-comforting combination of noodles, tomato sauce, basil, and lots and lots of cheese.