If you have a slow cooker- and Santa's sleigh might well be carrying a few of these around this year- you can save effort but still eat well (and cheaply). You can buy inexpensive cuts of meat like pork shoulder, ox cheek or tail, lamb shanks or duck legs and then , with just a few minutes preparation you can put your meal on to cook whilst you resume the rushing around.
I've had one for a year now and it is brilliant.
|Brown the meat first|
|Add vegetables and cooking liquor|
|Coq au Vin|
|Bonfire Baked Beans|
|Sausages with Lentils and Vegetables|
|Rich Beef Stew|
After 6 hours or so, the meat falls apart - you could almost eat it with a spoon.
Fancier dishes can easily be achieved- like braised duck legs in vermouth: Brown the duck legs in a dry frying pan until the fat starts to run out readily, (one duck leg per person),then two glasses of vermouth and a bay leaf go into the slow cooker with the duck, cook on high for an hour or two and then low for another couple of hours. Good enough for any dinner party.
|Braised Duck Legs in Vermouth|
You can also make a big pot of beef mince ragout- and then use it for quick and easy meals through the week (like bolognaise, chilli con carne, lasagne, or chilli chips !)
|Beef Mince Ragout|
I've only made one pudding so far in the slow cooker- but it was a good one- coconut rice pudding with mulled wine fruit compote: 1 cup of rice (I used arborio but long grain is fine), two cups of coconut milk or 1 carton coconut cream and 1 cup skimmed milk, 100 g of sugar, a grating of nutmeg and a tsp of cinnamon. Cook on low for 3 hours. Meanwhile, simmer a choice of red and orange fruits in a half glass red wine or red vermouth, add a splash of orange juice, some cinnamon and nutmeg and keep warm until you are ready to eat the rice pudding. Very festive.
|Coconut rice pudding with mulled fruit|
I had a big family party coming up so cooked a 'pulled' pork casserole a week in advance, froze it in the slow cooker casserole and then heated it up on the day. Take note though- if you have a plastic knob on the lid, it won't stand up to the oven temperatures- as I discovered. Luckily we could unscrew the blobby melted bit and screw on a new knob from an old pan lid.
|Check your slow cooker is oven proof!|
It's not just food leftovers that get used up in our house !
By the way, the casserole was unharmed- and much enjoyed by all.
|Pulled Pork Casserole|