It is no secret that I LOVE MY SLOW COOKER. We are totally BFF’s! She (because it is that good) is the best kitchen appliance, uncomplicated and makes my life so much easier.
Slow cookers are a very reasonably priced kitchen appliance and they last forever. Unless of course you break the inside crockery dish, which I foolishly did once. I had finished cooking my meal and while it the dish was still hot I took it out and put it in the sink to wash. Then I did a silly thing…. I turned on the cold water tap, full blast and sadly my dish cracked clean down the middle! As soon as I did it, I realised what I had done and kicked myself (not to literally!)
That was years ago now and since then I have had the same Kenwood Slow Cooker, which I think cost around $50 or $60, I think this is amazing value for something that can bring so much ease to your life.
I have a few slow cooker recipes that you can enjoy and I will be posting more in the coming weeks now that winter is here and I am back in love with this type of food.
Here are my 10 slow cooking tips so that you can enjoy amazing slow cooked meals this winter.
Which slow cooker to buy
I don’t think that you need a fancy slow cooker, but you do need one, I promise you will not regret it as just another dust collecting appliance in the back of the pantry! My advice is to get a basic slow cooker but make sure that it is a large size even if you have a smaller family. You can always cook extra and have left overs or cook smaller amounts by not filling it up as much. That is better than not being able to fit all the ingredients in that you want to, especially when you cook large portions of meat, such as corned beef or lamb shanks.
It is also great to choose a slow cooker that has a warm button, slow button and high button.
Choose less expensive meat
Another fabulous reason that the slow cooker is so awesome, is because you can cook with less expensive cuts of meat. Don’t go putting sirloin steak in the slow cooker, go for the less expensive cuts, the meat will melt in your mouth after it has been slow cooked. Beef brisket, chicken drums, pork shoulder, chuck steak or silverside are a few suggestions.
Cook vegetable dishes too
The slow cooker isn’t just for meat dishes, you can also make amazing and flavorsome vegetable dishes, such as vegetable curries, dahl, soups and vegetable stews. Make a medley, how about a sweet potato flan or make dishes with beans and chickpeas, get creative.
Cut down your prep time by hours per week
For me personally, I love the slow cooker because it is so fast to prepare amazing meals. Choose your recipes carefully rather than recipes where there is a lot of pre-prep. The dishes that I make are ones where you can just throw all the ingredients in, turn it on and that’s the prep. You know me, I love everything to be super-fast.
Lots of recipes want you to brown the meat first and this is technically the right way to keep in the flavour, but if you don’t have time, I don’t think it is essential. Just be relaxed about it, it will still turn out delicious.
Prep the slow cooker the night before
If you are stretched to get out the door in the morning, you can prep your dish the night before and leave it in the fridge overnight. Then all you have to do in the morning is put the dish into the slow cooker and turn it on. So easy!
Place mince in frozen, yes do it!
I know this sounds weird, probably technically cringe worthy and I don’t know if anyone else does this but it works. This is real life, sometimes I’m not organised and I am in a rush! I do this method when I haven’t pre-thought about defrosting the meat. It works like a dream. I mix the ingredients together (apart from the meat), such as the tomatoes, onion, garlic, herbs, veg and anything else in the dish first, making sure that it is all combined. Then I place the frozen mince on top and shut the lid. When I get home, I mix it all through and it tastes amazing!
Just leave your dish
Turn your slow cooker on and just let it do its thing. If you keep opening the lid, the heat goes out of the pot. Just enjoy not having to slave over the hot stove or worrying about what’s for dinner that night and let it happen.
Don’t stress about too much liquid
When you are just throwing things in and not following a recipe or adapting a recipe (which is what I tend to do) the liquids may not be right on point. Also because the lid is tightly sealed, the liquid doesn’t evaporate and there can be a fair amount of liquid. The liquid will often come to the top, so then you can leave the lid off for the last hour or so, or you can just scoop the excess liquid off the top and place in a saucepan to use for a glaze or gravy.
Don’t over full your slow cooker
If you overfill your slow cooker it may start bubbling out of the top, it will make a mess and may not cook as well. The ideal is to fill the slow cooker half to two-thirds of the way up.
Adapt any recipe you like to cook in the slow cooker
If you love a dish, like your favourite butter chicken dish, try cooking it in the slow cooker. Just throw everything in and see what happens. You will be surprised how well so many dishes work in the slow cooker. Have some fun with it and enjoy all the spare time that you have now that you are not slaving over a stove after a long day.