It dawned on me recently that there is an easier way to handle the pressure of weeknight dinners. Slow cooking! Put the dinner on before you leave the house in the morning and come home to delicious smells and a piping hot meal. Yesssss!
So I did the research – the Which? website is great for kitchen gadget advice – and bought myself a slow cooker (pictured below). I went for a 4.7 litre version which is bulky enough, but I’ve made room for it and am delighted with this new addition to our little kitchen. The inner ceramic pot is dishwasher safe and doubles as a serving dish so less washing. The “keep warm” feature is excellent – once the cooking time has been reached it automatically switches to “keep warm” mode. It’s low energy too compared to a lot of other appliances.
I’m now kicking myself that it took so long to cotton on to slow cooking. It’s not for every day (variety is the spice of life after all) but coming home after a really busy day it helps to have dinner already on so you can focus on the kids. The extra 15 minutes prep in the morning is well worth it.
So what have I cooked so far?
Bolognese – twice in fact as it was such a success the first time. “Best bolognese ever” apparently. I fried off the mince first and drained the fat, and included plenty of chopped carrots which lent a deliciously sweet / umami taste when simmered long and slow.
Beef stew – twice. The first version turned out very watery – you really need to hold back on the liquid with a slow cooker – so the second time around I added the step of rolling the beef pieces in flour first and frying briefly, which made for a thicker sauce. Tip: a handful of barley or whole lentils helps soak up the extra liquid too.
Whole corn-fed chicken with Sumac and Za’atar à la Ottolenghi with halved potatoes on top and served with toasted pine nuts and lots of flat-leaved parsley. I removed the skin as it doesn’t crisp up like roast chicken. Delicious, but I’ve learned that chicken breast dries out in the slow cooker unless immersed in liquid, so the next time I cooked it I simply turned the chicken upside down.
I’ve also cooked a whole turkey breast with root veg and barley. Very successful.
I’d love to hear of any other slow cooker recipes – please post below!