“Good things come to those who wait” they say. In the case of cooking fine, restaurant quality meals at home, this adage could not possibly ring more true. Slow cooking is a technique that came to the attention of the general public in the 1970’s with the advent of the ‘Crock-Pot’ and has been adapted over the years with fresh advents in home cooking technology. Now slow cookers are amongst the most popular kitchen appliances on the market.
The idea that you could start a meal in the morning before popping out to work and then finish it off upon returning in the evening was a revelation that also appealed to low-income families because of the way in which the process lent itself to cheaper cuts of meat. The slow, low cooking process results in more tender, juicier meats as it softens the meats connecting muscle tissue without toughening the muscle itself. The ‘all-in-one’ nature of most slow cooker recipes also means it’s a perfect option for making good use of all those ‘odds and sods’ gathering dust in your pantry.
Slow cooking doesn’t have to be the sole refuge of the budget chef though. Here we’ll be examining 5 gorgeous, homely and rustic slow cooker recipes that are as likely to impress the wannabe ‘foodies’ at a dinner party as they are your children on a cold winters evening.
Here’s an easy one to get you started. This recipe couldn’t possibly get any simpler, is easy to prepare and can quite comfortably feed a family of four.
Ingredients – 4 chicken breast pieces/assorted, chopped vegetables/pearl barley/red lentils/2 chicken stock cubes.
- To see the full recipe with instructions, visit: http://www.mumsnet.com/Recipes/i/1157-Slow-cooked-chicken-supreme
Thai Beef Curry
Thai food has seen a real boost in popularity of late so why not capitalise on that popularity with this spicy, authentic green curry?
Ingredients – 3 tablespoons of groundnut oil/2kg of beef ribs or brisket, chopped into chunks/a handful of coriander/2 chopped lemongrass stalks/3 chopped garlic cloves/2 chopped and deseeded green chillies/small piece of peeled and chopped ginger/50ml of rice wine vinegar/50ml of fish sauce/2 tablespoons of light brown sugar/400g of coconut milk/2 star anise/6 kaffir lime leaves/2 juiced limes.
Now I know what you’re thinking, it’s a long and complicated ingredients lift. However most major supermarkets will stock everything on the list, you might just have to look a little harder and trust me, it’ll be worth it! The actual cooking method is deceptively easy though.
- To see the full recipe with instructions, visit: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1977653/thai-beef-curry
Another wonderful warming recipe that doesn’t require as long in the cooker as other recipes due to the already soft and tender nature of the meat.
Ingredients – 2 tablespoons of olive oil/8 sausages of your choice/1 sliced red onion/2 sliced celery stalks/2 crushed garlic gloves/1 tablespoon of chilli powder/1 half a tablespoon of smoked paprika/2 tablespoons of tomato puree/2tablespoons of brown sugar/2 tablespoons of finely chopped rosemary/2 tablespoons of finely chopped oregano/300g of cherry tomatoes/400g of chopped tomatoes/1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce/150ml of red win/200ml of beef stock/400g of drained, mixed beans/bread to serve.
A dish with a lot of ingredients and a lot of flavour, this casserole should serve a family of 4 and is rather straightforward.
- To see the full recipe with instructions, visit: http://uktv.co.uk/food/recipe/aid/658537
The idea of cooking spaghetti in a slow cooker might seem a little unconventional but it really works a treat and gives the dish a less ‘stuffy’ taste and texture.
Ingredients – 2 tablespoons of olive oil/250g of chestnut mushrooms/1 sliced garlic clove/a small handful of parsley leaves/1 chopped celery stalk/1 finely chopped onion/400g of chopped tomatoes/1 half of a deseeded and chopped red chilli/300g of spaghetti/(optional) chilli flakes for more spice/(optional) tabasco.
Not for the feint hearted, this dish is as spicy as its name suggests. It is also however incredibly healthy and very easy and quick to prepare and cook. You’ll never microwave a ready meal again!
- To see the full recipe with instructions, visit: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/5603/spicy-spaghetti-with-garlic-mushrooms
Pulled Pork Sandwiches
An American favourite that has been a staple of ‘good old fashioned’ diners since time began. The perfect lunch.
Ingredients – a 4 pound cut of pork/salt and pepper/2 sliced onions/16 ounces of BBQ sauce/bread.
To finish we’re going to go with an almost ridiculously simple, but tasty pork sandwich.
- To see the full recipe with instructions, visit: http://spoonful.com/recipes/pork-or-beef-bun