A slow cooker can be the best friend of those living in the fast lane. Tasty, nutritious meals can be quickly assembled in one pot in the morning and the delicious aromatic results enjoyed while relaxing in the evening.
Another good thing about slow cookers — they’re great for the budget using minimal electricity and transforming cheaper, tougher cuts of meat into the very, very tender and tasty.
A meal that normally takes one hour to cook in a conventional oven at 160° Celsius takes six to eight hours in a slow cooker on low. The direct heat from the pot, and the lengthy cooking and the steam created within the tightly covered container, combine to destroy any bacteria and make slow cooking a safe process.
However, poultry and vegetable combos can take less time so, if you’re unable to switch it off in time, you may want to invest in a timer to prevent your creation from turning to ‘mush’. Or chill the pot overnight in the fridge — it will take longer to heat up.
It’s best to sauté onion before adding to the cooker as raw onion tends to overpower other flavours. And browning the meat prior to cooking results in a dish with much more flavour. However, this can be skipped if preparation time is limited.
SLOW COOKER MEXICAN CHICKEN
Easy to prepare and delicious served in tacos or on rice. Choose the chilli strength of the taco seasoning and salsa to suit your taste.
8 skinned chicken thigh cutlets
30g packet taco seasoning mix
375g jar Mexican salsa
410g can whole kernel corn, drained
juice 2 limes
1/4 cup chopped coriander leaves and stalks
Place the chicken thighs in a slow cooker. Sprinkle evenly with the taco seasoning. Cover with the salsa, corn and lime juice.
Cover and cook on low for about 5 hours, until the chicken falls from the bones. Add the coriander and cook until it is limp.
Remove the chicken and shred with 2 forks. Add about a 3/4 cup of the cooking liquid.
Great served in tacos with lettuce, finely grated cheese, diced tomatoes, sour cream and coriander. Or serve on rice garnished with these taco toppings. Serves 4-6.
PUMPKIN & CHICKPEA CURRY
Super slow-cooker vegetable curry.
Curry Mix: tablespoons canola oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 tablespoon grated root ginger
2-4 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon whole cumin seed
Vegetables: 400g peeled and seeded pumpkin
350g can chickpeas, drained
2 x 400g can tomatoes in juice
salt to taste
200g washed and sliced spinach
Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan. Sauté the onion until limp then add the garlic, ginger, curry powder and cumin seed. Cook for 1 minute. Tip into a slow cooker.
Cut the pumpkin into 3 cm chunks. Add to the cooker with the chickpeas, tomatoes and salt. Stir well. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours or high for 3-4 hours. Just before serving stir in the spinach. Cover and cook until limp. Serve on rice or with pappadums. Serves 4-6.
GRAN’S SLOW COOKER APPLE COBBLER
Excellent served with custard, yoghurt or cream.
3/4 cup each: lightly packed dark cane sugar, rolled oats, plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground mixed spice
50g chilled butter, grated
4 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and cored
1 cup orange juice
Lightly butter a slow cooker.
Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl. Rub the butter in. Slice each apple into 8 wedges. Add to the dry ingredients and toss.
Place in the slow cooker. Drizzle evenly with the orange juice. Cover and cook on low for about 3 hours. Serve hot. Serves 6.