Nothing beats walking into the house on a freezing winter’s night to the aroma of dinner well on the way. Herein lies the appeal of slow cooking in a cooker or crockpot.
There are numerous options for slow-cooked meals. Choosing the right cut of meat is especially important. Because the process is long and slow, it’s well suited to the traditionally cheaper, tougher cuts of meat, which are can be a bit fattier, become meltingly tender, and add to the flavour. Leaner cuts tend to dry out in slow cooking, so steer clear of these.
Cuts we suggest as ideal for slow cooking:
- lamb shanks
- corned beef
- pork shoulders
- blade steak
- crosscut blade
- short ribs
- oxtail …
Don’t stop there! Dark chicken meat such as thighs and drumsticks are well suited to slow cooking. They will remain juicier than the white chicken breast.
A few key pointers to get the most of your slow cooking:
- Thoroughly thaw the meat before turning on your slow cooker.
- Brown the meat first to add extra flavour and give it that lovely caramelised crust.
- Keep vegetables chunky and evenly sized so they retain their shape and cook evenly. Place firm vegetables such as potatoes and carrots at the bottom of the crockpot or slow cooker, then put the meat on top.
- Submerge herbs in the liquid so you get the most out of their flavour.
- Wine alert – because the cooker is sealed the alcohol in wine doesn’t evaporate out as it would in a pan on the stove. A splash goes a long way!
- For best results, fill a slow cooker half to two-thirds full. If you want to do a large shoulder, ensure you have a big enough cooker.
- Slow cooking is … slow. It’s tempting to switch the cooker to high and only cook for 4 hours, but if you have the time, cook it on low for a longer time. This gives more time for all the flavours to come out.
- Don’t lift the lid – no matter, how good it smells! It’s not going to be a disaster if you do, but remember: every time you lift the lid the cooking time increases.
- No need to stir – as tempting as it might be, this also tends to slow down the cooking.
- Thicken sauces near the end of cooking with a little cornflour mixed with water if needed.
- Add dairy last – milk, yoghurt and sour cream can break down in the slow cooker, so mix them in in the last 15 minutes of cooking.
Experiment a bit. If you have a favourite conventional recipe you want to cook in the slow cooker, no problems. Just reduce the liquid, as the tight seal on a slow cooker creates moisture, and juices accumulate. As a general rule, reduce liquid by about one third.
Happy slow cooking, and check out our shop for cuts of meat to use in your slow cooker or crockpot.