/ Food & Drink

What’s your favourite slow cooker recipe?

Slow-cooked pork chops, leg of lamb… even lasagne is possible in a slow cooker – and it seems like the boundaries are being pushed to create ever-more creative dishes in this humble pot. What’s your best creation?

As the rain pours down the windows of Which? HQ, I’ve just about given up hope that the summer’s ever going to get going.

Instead I’ve turned my attention to the products we’re testing this autumn. First on my list is a test of slow cookers, which have seen a resurgence in popularity with the trend towards frugal meals and cooking from scratch.

Make a frugal feast

I first came across slow cookers as a student. As the grant cheques ran out, we’d pool all our remaining pennies into the cheapest cuts of meat and unloved vegetables from the supermarket’s reduced section, throw them all in the slow cooker and produce experimental but tasty food for a student family of five.

It’s amazing how, with a bit of judicious browning and seasoning, even the most unprepossessing ingredients can be conjured into a tasty stew. Pork chops slow-cooked in cider, with onions and cooking apples was my piece-de-resistance in those days.

But I was surprised the other day when a Facebook friend announced that they were experimenting with slow cooker lasagne. Apparently it was a great success; after all, it’s just a question of layering the ingredients, cooking until the pasta has softened and popping it under the grill to finish the cheese off.

But that inspires me to wonder what other daring creations people can conjure up with a slow cooker?

Get creative with the slow cooker

I’m proudest of my Segovian lamb, improvised from one of the best meals I’ve ever had at a restaurant in Lanzarote. It’s basically a leg of lamb, basted in olive oil, salt and pepper, and then cooked for a long time, over low heat, in high humidity over a pan of potato slices.

Over the hours the humidity (created by adding a tray of water to the oven) causes the fat and juice from the lamb to dribble out over the potatoes, creating a soggy, crunchy and caramelised potato-based heaven. The lamb is so tender it falls from the bone in juicy chunks.

For the slow cooker version I use lamb shanks suspended on a small cake cooling rack over the pan of potatoes and keep a layer of water in the bottom of the slow cooker. The main advantage is that the hot steamy meat juices are contained in the slow cooker, which is a lot easier to clean than my normal oven.

So, am I the only one pushing the frontiers of slow cookery? Or do you have a secret recipe that delights the family with your ingenuity and its taste? Please do share and help us move the image of the slow cooker on from solid stews to inspiring surprises.

Comments
Member

Sometimes I think Which? Conversations are there to worry us to death about major issues and others that are perhaps a little less important. It’s nice to have a break from the doom and gloom.

I cannot contribute anything, having not used my slow cooker for at least 15 years, but I will dig it out of the back of the cupboard if someone comes up with an appealing recipe.

Member

We try to mix it up…

As for me, the last time I used a slow cooker was for a steak and ale pie. Leaving the steak to slowly cook makes it all the more tender and the sauce all the more rich and creamy. Then pop on a pastry top – and wallah! Best steak & ale pie you’ve ever had.

Member

Mmm, I haven’t got a slow cooker, but this post is definitely making me want one! First item on my Christmas list! (hint, hint!)

Member
Bill Kenyon says:
2 September 2011

I was made up big time when recently I purchased a book dedicated to Slow Cook Pot recipes. The book with 500 plus pages offers 400 easy to prepare step by step recipes each with numerous photos of easy to understand recipes. Written by Catherine Atkinson and Jenni Fleetwood the “Best Ever Slow Cooker One-Pot & Casserole cookbook” is my recommend.

Member

What is the nicest meal you’ve tried from that book? I’m looking for inspiration!

Member

I would love to find a book /some recipes which do not require browning /frying meat and vegetables before use. I found I couldn’t stand doing that first thing in the morning and going to work smelling of meat or fried onions!
I have tried preparing everything the night before and keeping it in the fridge and then chucking everything in and it seems to work without the frying.
The slow cooker makes wonderful rice pudding!

Member
david king says:
2 September 2011

Oxtail is great, if no longer inexpensive. Cover the base of the slow cooker with various vegetables cut into bite-sized peices, leaving enough room to completely pack a top layer of oxtail segments. Cover all with hot stock. Bingo! Any excess liquid after your meal becomes oxtail soup.

Member

I would love to try Victoria’s Segovian lamb in a slow cooker, but I couldn’t follow the recipe. A pan of potatoes inside the slow cooker along with the lamb shanks resting on a cake cooler, and a layer of water at the bottom of the slow cooker? I can’t see how it all fits in.

Member

I think the trick is that my slow cooker is quite big and my cake rack is quite small – although admittedly it is a squeeze! I suppose the other way to do it would be to put a layer of water on the bottom, then a small pot of water to act as a reservoir in the middle of the cooker. Layer up the potatoes and then put the lamb shanks on top of the potatoes – I haven’t tried it so I don’t know for sure it would work – but I am all for experimentation!
My recipe is an improvisation, based on internet research, based on a meal I had on holiday – you could probably say that I belong to the serendipity school of cookery!