Ask Peter: Slow cookers
Could you give me some advice on using the slow cooker please? My results are very hit and miss, with some expensive disappointments, but I would love to make the slow cooker work so that I can cook in the morning and be free in the afternoon.
We have a lot of homegrown lamb and hogget, which it would be great to be able to cook in the slow cooker, but last night I ruined a hogget leg. I put some onions and garlic in to the mix but it was bland. Heather
Here is some of what I answered to a similar question a few years ago:Herbs, garlic, spices and seasoning are no doubt the easiest things to add for flavour, and using any or all of these will make sure your meal will be powerful and punchy.
Other things to add are soy sauce or fish sauce (instead of salt), grated fresh ginger, a bashed lemongrass steam (lovely with a batch of chicken legs and even a boned lamb shoulder), chillies, lime leaves and even liquids like coconut cream, stock, or a little booze like red wine (for beef) or cider (for pork).
I tend to brown the meat in a hot pan with a little oil and place in the cooker sitting on a few herbs. In the same pan I caramelise sliced onions or whole shallots, and thickly sliced peeled garlic and when they’re ready add a cup or so of liquid (as above) and bring to the boil. Pour this over the meat, put the lid on and let it cook away.
You can baste the meat too as it cooks which helps it keep nice and juicy, although the joy of a slow cooker (or a heavy pot with a tight fitting lid) is that the cooking juices don’t easily escape. After about 3-4hours (depending on the size of the joint of meat) add large chunks of scrubbed kumara or potatoes and let them cook as well.
Mum cooks a great dish of thickly sliced porkbelly. She marinates the slices for a few hours in soy sauce, honey, garlic and a little sesame oil then layers them into the slow-cooker and drizzles a little water on top. She’s also very good with a simple rolled boned shoulder of lamb. Personally I’d unroll the shoulder and smother it with lots of roughly chopped herbs (thyme, rosemary and sage), crushed garlic, chilli flakes, lemon peel and a good amount of seasoning. Roll it back up and tie firmly with string then place in the cooker sitting on the stalks of the herbs. Add a good slosh of pastis or any other anise-type liquor and a few bay leaves.
For a beef dish, I’d mix diced beef with a few tablespoons of miso paste and mirin (or use a little honey and red wine mixed together), sliced onions, field mushrooms and carrots, bay leaves and horseradish paste. Pour on enough stock or even water to cover it by 2cm and leave it to cook away. Season it towards the end either with salt or soy sauce and stir in lots of roughly chopped parsley at the end — and serve with mashed potatoes.
For more recipes, take a look at our slow cooker collection on bite.co.nz