Years ago I did an experiment where I cooked coq au vin in a slow cooker and another batch in the oven and compared the results.
To cut a longish story short, the slow cooker won on tenderness. The oven on flavour.
So being the good minimalist that I was (and am) I gave my slow cooker away to one an SVCS Member.
Then a few years later, after ruining a lovely piece of brisket by forgetting to turn down my oven, I decided it was time to revisit the slow cooker.
This time I’m happy with my purchase.
Not only am I able to make super succulent brisket, I’ve discovered a few other less obvious uses as well…
3 Unusual Ideas for Your Slow Cooker
1. Cooking Dried Chickpeas & Beans
An idea from the lovely Nigella, the slow cooker is perfect for making a big batch of beans or chickpeas without worrying about your pot going dry.
Just soak and drain as per usual then cover with plenty of water and let your slow cooker do it’s thing. Will take 5-6 hours on low.
Everything from whole chickens to vegetables. If I’m in the mood for steaming my slow cooker is my go-to.
Add 1cm (1/3in) water or stock to the base of the slow cooker then put the food on top of the little rack that comes with it.
If you don’t have the rack, build your own using balls of foil. Or sticks of lemon grass or rosemary.
What?! Especially in Summer when I don’t want to heat up the kitchen I love the combination of slow cooker + BBQ.
Brilliant for larger cuts of meat like lamb shoulder, pork shoulder, brisket or a whole chicken. Just pre-cook the meat in the slow cooker then brown or smoke on the BBQ just before serving.
To Make Slow Cooker Meals Taste Amazing
The problem with the slow cooker is the lack of flavour because there aren’t any caramelisation or Malliard reactions going on. Here are my favourite ways to compensate…
1. Add some browning.
Some slow cookers have a stove top insert so you can brown the meat / veg before slow cooking. Mine doesn’t so I generally slow cook first and brown second.
Usually this is on the BBQ but occasionally I pop the slow cooker insert uncovered in the oven for 1/2 hour or so just before serving.
2. Use Soy Sauce.
Soy sauce is a magical ingredient full of caramelized flavours and umami… the very things that slow cooker meals tend to lack.
While you can go fully Asian, like these Chinese Beef Cheeks, adding a few tablespoons of soy sauce to other slow cooked dishes can add depth of flavour (and colour) without making it overtly Asian.
Plus it can save you from the extra browning step mentioned above.
3. Reduce the cooking liquid.
Given there is very little evaporation from the slow cooker, sauces tend to be on the watery side. To overcome this, ladel the excess liquid into a saucepan and let it simmer and reduce before serving. Even 20 minutes can make a big difference.
Slow Cooker Recipes
Are you a slow cooker fan?
Like to see more slow cooker based recipes on Stonesoup or not so much? Let me know in the comments below…
Have fun in the kitchen!
ps. Looking for simple tools to eat healthier?
Then check out The SVCS.
It’s an online cooking school that helps you eat healthier by using a simple approach to cooking and habits.
For more details Click HERE.