If there is one item in the kitchen that makes life so much easier it is my slow cooker. It stood in my cupboard, grossly under used for years until lady number three arrived as did I to my senses. I have a lot hate relationship with cooking, I like it and I hate it in equal measures. I try so hard with my efforts often falling short of the cullinary delight I expect after all the effort I put in. The slow cooker is perfect not just for time pressed parents but for me it is great because it takes my average cooking to a whole new level, meals are so much tastier when they’ve been stewing away slowly for hours.
I don’t use it everyday but I use it at least once a week, days when there are art classes in the evening. I generally use a whole variety of meats and sauces. I never brown the meat before I put it into the cooker, I just pile the meat and sauce in at around midday and throw the veg in later around 3 o’clock. Some really easy things to do include chicken thighs, especially ones that have been marinated in a sauce, the meat literally falls off the bone after a few hours in the slow cooker and makes a great and easy accompaniment to steamed potatoes and veg. This is also great for us because I tend to eat with the girls around 6 but my husband doesn’t get home for another while, and in the slow cooker his food isn’t dry by the time he gets to sit down to eat. Here are five meals that I have done over the past week or so, everyone of them have been gobbled up by all three ladies, even the small lady had the curries! Another thing I love about the slow cooker is the way the meat breaks down, my middle lady was never a massive fan of meat finding it too chewy for her liking but she always enjoys it out of the slow cooker so it’s winning all round.Curries – I think curries are the real winner in the slow cooker, they are so fragrant and tasty. I admit that at times I use a jar but it’s no ordinary jar, it’s by Cork based Green Saffron (I think you can get them in Supervalu) I get the jars in the farmers markets here in Cork and there is absolutely nothing added other than spices, tomatoes, onions etc. I generally use either lamb or chicken in these and I like lamb because I’m not a huge fan of lamb but the strong taste of the meat is nicely toned down by the curry.Beef curry – this is BY FAR the biggest hit when it comes to the slow cooker. I have made this so many times and every time it is devoured. So easy to do, simple ingredients and it turns out perfectly. I serve this with couscous just to mix things up if we’ve had a pasta heavy week.
Spaghetti bolognaise – actually this is really the basis of a few different meals, you could make lasagna, spaghetti bolognaise or a cottage pie using this basic concoction. I use mince beef, a tin of tomatoes, a dash of beef stock and then whatever spices I lay my hands on and let it work away over a number of hours. I got my slow cooker in Aldi or Lidl a long time ago, I don’t think it cost much more than about €20 and it’s a 6 litres in size (I’m pretty sure!) which is perfect for a family of five and also fits a full medium sized chicken.