The kids are back in school, the evenings are getting darker, and we are all beginning to leave the light and fresh salads and tasty barbeques of the summer months behind. As the cold weather draws in we tend to seek out comforting and hearty dishes to nourish us during the long winter period.
Getting back into a routine can be tricky and we just want something that will make life (and our meal times) quick, handy and healthy.
Luckily, we have just the answer: The good old slow cooker!
It’s not really an instrument of summer cooking, but for those looming autumnal evenings, it’s the quick and easy answer to our mealtime prayers.
There are many benefits to using the slow cooker, but we’ll give you our top 5:
1) It is super quick and takes care of itself: Just throw your food into the slow cooker in the morning, head off to work and 8 hours later and you’ve got a delicious pot of rich and tasty food to feed the whole family AND it doesn’t involve burning the house down!
2) Slow cookers can save you money: We all know that those tougher cuts of meat cost less and take longer to cook. Luckily, with a slow cooker, you can have the best of both worlds as you can use those cheaper cuts of meat that you wouldn’t normally use if you were in a hurry. When you cook meat on a low temperature for several hours, meat has a chance to soften and tenderise. Slow cooking also brings out the best in the flavours of the meat and can transform cheap cuts of meat into delicious, juicy chunks that fall apart in your mouth.
3) You can save energy: Compared to an electric oven, slow cookers use considerably less energy. Your standard oven uses around 4,000 watts of power each hour it runs. Slow cookers, on the other hand, use just 300 watts, and even though it takes longer to cook your meal, it is still significantly cheaper to run than your oven would be for a shorter space of time.
4) The meals are super easy to make: Anyone can master meals with slow cookers, even the most challenged of cooks! All the ingredients for the recipes are usually added at the same time and besides an initial stir to mix everything together you simply pop the lid on and leave it until it’s done. In fact, simply leaving the ingredients alone until the cooking time is up helps to ensure that you seal the moisture and flavour in the pot!
5) Slow cookers are very safe to use: They are designed to be left unattended. Their maximum wattage is 300, which is similar to leaving three 100-watt light bulbs running. Unless you’re using a very old appliance that has a frayed cord or you’ve done your own rewiring work these cookers are safe to use while you’re away or as you sleep, in fact, there are some great recipes for breakfast items which you can put into the pot before you head off to bed!
You can see why slow cookers are such a big favourite in the Kane family household!
Aside from being super easy to use, they’ll save you money on both the cuts of meat you need to buy and on your electricity bill; they produce some delicious meals, and they save heaps of time on planning and cooking those family meals!
Below is one of our favourite slow-cooked recipes, which is quick, tasty and really easy to make.
We hope that you’ll enjoy as much as we do:
Beef and Guinness casserole
Serves 6 (possibly more)
2lb meat pieces
1 tbsp Broighter Gold cold pressed oil
2 small onions, finely chopped
2 carrots, chopped
Mushrooms, chopped or sliced
1 tsp thyme or mixed herbs
1 beef stock cube
200 ml Guinness (optional, or you can add more)
200 ml water
1- Add 1 tbsp oil to a hot pan and seal the meat pieces in batches; set each batch aside before adding the next.
2- Add all the ingredients, including the seared meat pieces, to the slow cooker pot, add water to about halfway up the dish, set the heat on high (for approx. 4 hours) or low (for 8hours plus) and put the lid on.
3- Leave for the designated amount of time, thicken your gravy with gravy thickener/ granules, give it another 15-30mins and serve with a delicious plate of creamy mash, or freshly sliced sourdough bread.