So, supposing I was going to suggest to my menfolk that they buy me a slow cooker for my birthday, any advice I should give them on brands, types, things to look for?
Thus began two debates running simultaneously over the merits of slow cookers versus a good cast iron pot (with a few people weighing in with pressure cooker comments as well) and also whether or not a slow cooker was actually an acceptable birthday gift.
Eventually a brave friend gave me this answer.
Meredith I'm not sure if I'm brave enough to wade into this discussion but I love my slow cooker. I always brown everything first and use it endlessly in winter for curries and casseroles and mass quantities of spaghetti sauce. Would recommend one with low, high and keep warm settings and a heavy ceramic dish. Have heard lots negative about the new ones you can brown in - non stick surfaces that easily damage and leach funny taste/chemicals. Good luck and happy New Year! x
And so armed with that advice, off they went and on THE day I unwrapped one of these.
The irony of this post from Deb, appearing a week after my birthday was not lost on me.
So the new slow cooker sat there for a while and eventually I was ready to give it a go. The first recipe? Jane's pulled pork. I sent a quick message to clarify what sort of BBQ sauce one would require.
Do I just use Masterfoods BBQ sauce? I couldn't see a BBQ marinade in Coles today...but it may be that I have whole new section of the supermarket to explore. What do you suggest?
I'm sure Masterfoods BBQ sauce would be fine, but I've only used a BBQ marinade from the sauces section of the supermarket. I totally think regular BBQ sauce would work - just make sure you use about 375mls of it. The pork will produce lots of liquid throughout the cooking process as all the fat renders off - just let it drip on a wire rack over the slow cooker for a good five minutes before pulling apart and serving.
OK. I have everything I need to know so off I go to the shop to find the marinade. I walk up and down the relevant aisles and eventually I stop right in the middle of one and sigh a deep sigh. The accompanying son asks what's wrong and I tell him I am about to have to go home and write a really silly email to someone because I can't find a bottle of sauce in a supermarket and therefore I am going to expose myself as a complete goose.
And as the word "goose" leaves my lips I see the marinade.
Anyway, to cut short what is turning into an unnecessarily long story, a few days later (because I needed to recover from the stress of the shopping trip before venturing into new recipe and appliance territory) I made the pulled pork. And in my excitement with the ensuing aromas I invited people over for dinner. New recipe. New cooking method. Throwing caution to the wind. Outrageous.
And it was lovely. If for this one dish only, I am sold.
Since then I have tried a beef dish that came in the recipe section of the instruction manual. It was OK. A beef casserole of sorts. Too much thyme. Not really to our tastes.
Then I did a version of beef stroganoff very close to Jane's recipe. I think Jane's addition of some tomato paste would seal the deal with this recipe.
And I am looking forward to having a go at this lamb dish - the lamb rival for pulled pork I do believe.
Somewhere along the line I worked out that the slow cooker is really just an electric casserole dish. You can use it on high and it will cook in the equivalent time it takes to do a casserole in the oven. And I am a convert to browning everything before placing ingredients in a casserole anyway, so this is no different. The benefit is to be found in the slow cooking function that turns tough, cheap meat into tender deliciousness over a much longer cooking time. So I am looking forward to trying out some of my tried and tested casserole dishes in the slow cooker and seeing how they go.
|And I have been told this is THE |
slow cooker recipe book to own.
And as for gift suitability, this one worked for me. I like a practical gift although not so practical as to be a lawn mower, iron or vacuum cleaner. There's a fine line. They landed on the right side of the line with this one.