SLOW COOKERS – JUST something you buy on offer from the Aldi middle aisle only for it to be banished to the back of the cupboard forever, right?
Wrong! Now is the perfect time to resurrect it (or perhaps pick one up), as the days get shorter and the nights get longer. Slow cookers are dead handy for those nights when you don’t have the mental capacity to “cook” after a long day of work. It’s simply a matter of banging stuff into it, waiting a few hours and BAM – a delicious meal with minimal effort.
What you need to know before slow-cooking
For vegetables, go as fresh as possible. Cut root veggies as evenly as possibly, and save your leafy greens until the end.
When it comes to meat, cheap beats all. You want stuff that’s not already super tender, like chicken thighs (though as you’ll see in some recipes below, chicken breasts work too in some circumstances.)
When it comes to cooking, make sure the vegetables have room at the bottom as they take longer to cook. If you’re in a hurry, opt for the high setting on your cooker. Otherwise, go low.
Don’t overfill your pot, and keep the lid on. Generally, leafy greens, fresh herbs, cooked pasta, cooked rice, and dairy should be added in the last 30 minutes.
Dailyedge.ie reached out to readers on social media to ask for their favourite recipes.
Buffalo ‘Pulled’ chicken
- 4 chicken fillets
- Half a bottle of Frank’s Sauce
- 2 tbsp of light mayonnaise
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 2 tbsp garlic powder
Cook for 8 hours on low or 4 hours on high. Shred with two forks when cooked.
“You can serve it with whatever like buffalo chicken tacos, chips, enchiladas or with rice,” reader Amy said.
It’s amazing honestly – I usually do it with soft shell tacos and put and whatever on top then put them back in to melt the cheese and you’re done!”
Fancy shmancy satay
- 1 cup coconut milk about a half a can
- 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce low-sodium
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon ginger peeled and minced
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 3 chicken breasts boneless and skinless
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
Lob in your peanut butter, your coconut milk and whatever. There are loads of good recipes online.”
Mac ‘n’ cheese (with a vegan friendly alternative too)
Lucy, AKA BakingQueen74 put forward her blog, which is full of slowcooker recipes. Here’s one of her most recent recipes for mac ‘n’ cheese.
For the white sauce:
- 40 g butter
- 40 g plain flour
- 500 ml semi-skimmed milk
For the mac and cheese:
- 250 g macaroni dried pasta
- 180 g grated cheddar cheese I used a mixture of mature and medium cheddar
- 250 ml water
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- 0.5 tsp mixed herbs
- 0.5 tsp minced garlic
- 0.5 tsp paprika
To make the sauce:
Melt the butter in a pan, then add the flour. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon. This is the roux which is the basis of the sauce.
Add about a fifth of the milk to the pan, whisk well and it will become incorporated with the roux.
Add another lot of milk, and again whisk it in well.
Continue, adding the milk in about 4 more lots, and whisking after each addition.
Set the pan to cook gently for around ten minutes, it should be at a simmer. Stir occasionally. About two minutes from the end the sauce will thicken, make sure you stir it well and whisk during this time.
Once thickened your sauce is ready to use. Note it will get very thick, and you want it to get very thick before adding it into the slow cooker.
To make the mac and cheese:
Add the dry macaroni pasta and then the cheese in the slow cooker pot.
Pour on the cheese sauce, and add the cold water.
Add the herbs and spices, and season well with salt and pepper. Taste the sauce and make sure it is seasoned to your taste.
- Stir well, put on the lid and cook for 1 hour 45 minutes to 2 hours. Stir occasionally so it doesn’t get stuck to the base of the slow cooker pot. Serve once ready.
You can check out out a vegan version of this recipe here.
Frank on Twitter regularly makes this. Here’s a recipe adapted from The Telegraph to get stuck into.
- Olive oil
- 2.5 kg/5½lb venison shoulder, cut into 4cm/1½in chunks
- 300 g/10½oz pancetta, cut into small cubes
- 2 red onions, finely chopped
- 3 celery sticks, finely chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 3 bay leaves
- ½ small bunch of thyme, leaves picked
- 1 tsp juniper berries
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 400g tin tomatoes, drained and rinsed
- 1 bottle of red wine
Heat a good splash of oil in a wide-based pan over a medium-high heat. Season the venison with salt, then brown (in batches) until golden all over; remove.
Turn the heat down to low and add the pancetta. When it starts to releasing some of its fat, add the onions, celery, carrot and garlic and a pinch of salt. Scrape up any sticky bits left behind from the venison. Sweat for 20 minutes until the onions are soft and sweet, then stir in the herbs, juniper, cinnamon and venison (plus any resting juices).
Turn the heat up to medium-high and when it begins sizzling, add the tomatoes and wine and bring to the boil before immediately turning down to a simmer. Season well, then leave to bubble away for at least two hours until the meat is falling apart. Break it up a little with a spoon and try to hunt down and discard the juniper berries, cinnamon and bay leaves.
Brownies (because dessert is never optional)
Slow cooker brownies are a favourite of Mary’s, adapted from Spicy Southern Kitchen.
- Cooking spray
- 160 g cups all-purpose flour
- 30 g cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 3/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 100 g unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 270 g bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 200 g sugar
- 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 125 g chopped pecans
- 175 g semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Lightly coat a 4 to 5-quart crock pot insert with cooking spray. Place a piece of parchment paper, that is large enough to extend halfway up the sides in the bottom of the crock pot.
- Lightly spray parchment paper with cooking spray. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.
- Place butter and chopped chocolate in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds. Stir. Microwave another 30 seconds. If not completely melted, continue microwaving until melted.
- Add sugar to chocolate mixture and whisk to combine. Whisk in eggs and vanilla.
- Stir in flour mixture just until flour is moistened. Fold in pecans and chocolate chips.
- Pour batter into crock pot, smoothing out the top with a rubber spatula.
- Cover and cook on LOW for 3 1/2 hours. Uncover and continue to cook on LOW for 30 minutes.
- Remove insert from crockpot and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
Not a dinner recipe but I’ve made these slow cooker brownies out of sheer laziness and they were fab!”
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