Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Experiments in slow cooking

When the Boy is working evenings, I find it difficult to get inspired cooking for one. In an attempt to wean myself off my lazy nursery food habits - fish fingers and mash, beans on toast, soup and a baked potato - I invested in a slow cooker.

The plan was to cook up a storm one night a week and fill the freezer with delicious home cooked "ready" meals. Unlike most resolutions of this type, it seems to be working so far.

I started timidly with a couple of recipes designed specifically (or perhaps just marketed?) at slow cooker owners. With limited success... Bland mostly, with overly sweet gloopy or watery sauces.

So I've mostly been adapting regular stew and soup style recipes. The key seems to be browning the meat and shaking it in flour to get a decent gravy, chucking softer ingredients in halfway through the cooking time, and running it off a timer switch (Mine is a pretty basic model that doesn't have an inbuilt timed off switch).

Tagines work really well, this one is adapted from BBC Food.

Chicken and apricot tagine

Adapted for slow cooker from http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/chicken_and_apricot_97224

1. Marinate chicken in harissa.
2. Fry chicken until colour changes, shake in seasoned plain flour. Put to one side.
3. Fry onion and garlic.
4. Chuck everything into the slow cooker with stock, apricots and tomatoes EXCEPT chickpeas. Cook on high for five hours. After two hours add the chickpeas and give a quick stir.
5. Go and get on with your life.
6. Eat with couscous.

Having said that, though, the most delicious thing so far was a melt-in-the-mouth bolognaise sauce: pancetta fried off, browned mince seasoned with basil, oregano, thyme and black pepper (did you read about this recipe book boo-boo? Awkward! ), simmered in passata and stock for five hours. So good!


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