This month we welcome our food and lifestyle writer Louise Beach to share some of expertise. We all know slow cookers are great in the winter for stews, soups and a variety of other hearty warming dishes, but what about in spring? Time is even more limited with the start of the eventing season! Louise had a think about what she would cook in a slow cooker and what was seasonal. Below are two of her favourite recipes.
To start with some top tips when using your slow cooker:
Long and low is always better – the longer you can cook on a low temperature for the better, this will release flavours slowly and make your meat (if using meat) fall apart in your mouth!
Not too wet – always remember that when you slow cook the liquid doesn’t evaporate so don’t be too keen to add to much liquid.
Fill with flavour – I’m a big fan of herbs and spices, you can add a twist to any easy meal by adding spices, a standard lamb stew can easily be turned into a Moroccan stew simply by adding herbs such as Cumin, Coriander, Mint and Chilli
Cheap cuts are a winner – with slow cooking you can use the cheaper cuts of meat as the process of slow cooking makes the meat nice and tender, don’t waste money on expensive cuts for your slow cooker….save that for a professional pic at your next event!
Jerk Pork and Salsa Carribean Style
3 lb boneless pork shoulder, all fat removed
6 cloves garlic, crushed
2 – 3 tbsp Jerk Seasoning (as spicy as you decide)
1/2 tsp salt
1 lime, squeezed
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
For the salsa
1 avocado, diced
2 large mangos, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 1/2 tbsp chopped red onion
1-2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
2-3 tbsp fresh lime juice
salt and pepper, to taste
The night before, marinate the pork: Using a sharp knife, cut slits into the pork and stuff holes with half of the crushed garlic. Combine the remaining garlic, jerk seasoning, and salt then rub all over the pork. Place in a large container, pour the lime and orange juice over the pork; cover and refrigerate overnight, turning pork occasionally so the marinade covers all of pork.
Now for the cooking in the morning:
The next morning, put everything in the slow cooker and cook on LOW for 9 hours. After 9 hours, remove pork and shred using two forks.
Keep the liquid from the slow cooker for later. Add shredded pork back to the slow cooker and add about 1 cup of the liquid back into the slow cooker and taste for salt and pepper. Let it cook an additional 15 minutes.
Meanwhile make the salsa:
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, season to taste with salt and pepper then refrigerate until ready to serve.
3 large boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 celery stalk
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic
450ml chicken stock
1/2 cup hot wing sauce
Combine the chicken, onions, celery stalk, garlic, and stock in a slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.
Remove the chicken from the pot, reserve 1/2 cup stock, and discard the rest. Shred the chicken with two forks, return to the slow cooker with the reserved stock and the hot sauce. Cook on high for an additional 30 minutes.
Serve chicken in lettuce cups, in wraps, or on a baked potato
So don’t forget your slow cooker isn’t just for hearty winter foods, but can be a great way of cooking your meat with limited time. Once the meat is flavoured and cooked you can then serve any way you wish. This also works for whole chickens and big roasting joints, the meat falls off the bones and is always juicy and tender.