How to get the most out of your slow cooker

Photo: supplied

Photo: supplied

The calendar has ticked over into winter. Mulled wine. Lamb shanks. Slow cooker.

A slow cooker simmering away in the background brings multiple gifts: beautiful aromas, deep flavours, meat with tenderness that only time and patience can provide. But the best gift of all? Easy, no fuss, set-and-forget cooking.

It’s no coincidence that the busiest person I know is also a huge fan of the slow cooker. What are her best ideas?

“A spag bol sauce made from cheap skirt steak,” she says. “It cooks all day and then just melts in your mouth.’ Another favourite is lentil and veggie soup. “The best mid-week thing is that with a busy family coming and going they just help themselves as required to soup and crusty bread rolls.”

This is a moist cooking medium, well-suited to robust ingredients such as root vegetables, pulses and cheaper cuts of meat. But slow cooking has a wide repertoire: curries, stews, risottos, lasagne, tagines, pie fillings, puddings, fruit compotes, beverages and much more.

The best slow cookers have a lift-out pan you can use on the stovetop. This allows browning of ingredients such as onions and meat to enrich the flavour and colours of your dish.

A glass lid for the pan is a good idea too, so you don’t lose heat lifting it to take a look during cooking. Your instruction manual will tell you everything you need to know about using your cooker, and will include a range of recipes too.

Sure, you will have to do some prep in the morning or the night before to get a slow-cooked lunch or dinner organised. The good news is that many slow-cooker recipes are simple; this is after all a one-pot meal you are preparing.

And don’t worry: of course this handiest of helpers can be used all year round.

Top slow cooker recipe picks:

Duck tagine: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/spiced-duck-date-tagine
Lamb curry: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/slow-cooker-lamb-curry
Dhal: https://www.taste.com.au/recipes/slow-cooker-vegie-dhal/ilBmxLlk

Jo Scanlan is a home economist, a writer and an editor. She has written many resources for teachers of home economics and VCE Food Studies.

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