I just got a slow cooker. What delicious and good dishes should I make in it?
Pitt, Horsham, West Sussex
Put aside its cumbersome look and you’ll be hard pressed to deny the slow-cooker’s allure: Add your ingredients in the morning and, unsupervised, you’ll have a meal ready and waiting for dinner to come. “I love coming home when it’s cold and dark and the kitchen smells great,” says Guardian columnist and slow cooker fan Tamal Ray. “You can also use cheaper cuts of meat that need more time and like to release their flavor slowly.” Slow cookers save energy, too—according to research by energy supplier Utilita, slow cookers cost about 16p a day to run (electric ovens typically cost 87p)—so this is a win-win.
When cooking over a low, slow heat, Ray often resorts to lamb on the bone. “It’s the way my mom would,” he says. “Saute it with garlic, ginger and paprika, then add two cans of chopped tomatoes, and some soaked chickpeas.” [about 300g] Salt, and let it sit throughout the day.” If he’s feeling fancy, Ray puts the eggplant over the flame on a gas stove, then once it’s cool enough to handle, removes the skin, “cuts the meat and adds that to the slow cooker near the end. The smoke is delicious.”
Rebecca Woods, author of Foolproof Slow Cooker, is also in good shape with her “baked” cereal. You first cook the onion and garlic pieces in a skillet, then transfer them to the slow cooker [soaked and drained] Beans, pasta and some water. Boost the flavor with some smoked paprika, maple syrup, and crunchy bacon bits, then cook for eight hours. “Pile in tanned potatoes and put cheese on top, or serve as is on toast.”
Whole chicken is also an easy way to make in the slow cooker. James Jay, chef at Sur-Mer at The Suffolk in Aldeburgh, Suffolk, tends to get fresh and zingy (lemongrass, ginger, chili, garlic, lemon leaves, and broth) or “savory and homey,” inspired by the chicken hotpot. Traditional (potatoes, carrots, onions, celery, mushrooms, broth). Meanwhile, the other Ray goes for pheasant and apple soup: “Combine two pheasants and saute them in butter with salt and pancetta.” This is then put in a slow cooker with 500ml apple juice, dried thyme, bay, sliced onions and carrots, and brought to a boil adding a few pieces of apple for the last hour of cooking. Another small number of fruits, says Jay, are pig’s shoulder (“or cheeks are much cheaper”) and quince, which also includes applesauce, anise, and a drizzle of vinegar and water. “To me, the beauty of the slow cooker is that you only have one pot, so you don’t use multiple pots.”
Finally, you can’t get more autumnal plants than butternut squash, which Woods pairs with satire. “It’s like risotto, but it looks a lot healthier.” It couldn’t be easier than this: Soften the onion and garlic in a skillet with a little oil, then place in a slow cooker with the broth, pumpkin, cubes, apple, sage leaves, chili flakes, and spices, and cook over high heat. for a few hours. Eat goat cheese, and more sage and toasted walnuts: “The walnuts provide crunch, which is usually hard to achieve in a slow cooker.”