Four years ago I bought a slow cooker. I was in awe of the promises “it cooks dinner for you while you’re not home”, “quick easy dinners for busy people”. What I got? Extended slow cooking that fogged up the windows of our townhouse and didn’t exactly create the flavour filled meals I anticipated. No matter what recipe I followed I ended up with stodgy meals. I was not in love with my slow cooker.
What did I use it for? Two dishes: sticky chicky and bolognaise sauce. That was it. Every winter, I would haul it from the pantry and cook a massive batch of bolognaise and maybe a couple of batches of sticky chicky over the course of the coming months. Then come the first blooms of spring, it was hidden away again.
But lately I’ve been kind of time poor, especially of a Tuesday. Miss 4 has dancing at “very inconvenient o’clock”. Basically she finishes dancing when on any normal evening I’d be stacking the dishwasher. So I needed to learn to love my slow cooker again. I‘ve been trying out different things in it. Yes, it’s brilliant for the long slow cooking that bolognaise requires, but it’s even better if you are just making flavours pop and then combining them with something else. I’m talking beef that is slow cooked and then paired with (not slow cooked) noodles and zoodles, taking advantage of the flavours made stronger and punchier by the slowcooking…but without the stodge. Here is one recipe that does that: beef and lemongrass noodles.
Now…there are slow cooker groups on facebook. Some even do things like coffee in the slow cooker. I can’t do that. Coffee is a thirsty second extraction through the coffee machine. It certainly shouldn’t be in a slow cooker for a couple of hours. And I can’t do fudge. Nope sorry. It just isn’t going to happen. But flavour? Yes I want that.
The best way to love your slowcooker again is to decide on something that tastes good however you normally cook it…but needs an extra little something like the sweetness in this Slow cooker Moroccan Lamb, it is enchanced by the long slow cooking. Just bear in mind, the slowcooker can’t actually create the flavour for you…it needs to be there to begin with!
Remember one, of the key things to love about your slowcooker is that you can double and even triple what you are making, dependent on the size of your slow cooker! That means you can prep the base for a few meals like Tacos, burritos and steamed buns just by cooking a meat such as Pineapple Pulled Pork then freeze….retrieve it when you need it and half the effort of dinner is done. I think the way the slowcooker works best (if you’re not a fan of stews and casseroles) is to prep a large quantity of a a meat, then use it with fresh ingredients such as a fresh salsa, coleslaw or zoodles so that it doesn’t end up a textureless mass of goo!
So…drag out the slow cooker and give it another go. Your rushed dinner-o’clock self will love you for it.