How do I love my slow cooker let me count the ways?
1) the smell that fills my home
2) the ease of dinner preparation (you really just have to be patient and that’s about it)
3) the taste of real home cooking
So I love my slow cooker 3 ways. To coincide with my 3 best recipes
1 kg lamb leg or shoulder; ¼ cup vegetable oil; 1 bay leaf; 6 whole cloves; 1 tbsp green cardamom pods ; 1 cinnamon stick; 1 tsp fennel seeds; 4 small dried chillies, roughly chopped; 750g red onions, sliced;1 small tub (about 200ml) plain yoghurt; ½ tsp salt; 1 tsp turmeric; 1 tsp chilli powder; 3 tsp ground coriander; 2 tsp freshly grated ginger; 4 cloves garlic, crushed; 2 tsp chilli purée, such as sambal oelek; 2 tomatoes, chopped; 1 tbsp tomato purée; 2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves; coriander sprigs, to serve
Trim the lamb of any excess fat and cut into large cubes. Set aside.
In a large heavy based saucepan, heat the oil over a medium heat. Add bay leaf, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon stick, fennel seeds and dried chillies and stir well until the spices release their fragrance, about 3 minutes. Add the sliced onions, reduce the heat to low and cook the onions, stirring occasionally, for the next 20 minutes until they are soft, brown and sweetly caramelised.
If using a slow-cooker: When onions are cooked, transfer to the crock pot of a slow cooker. Stir in the yoghurt, salt, turmeric, chilli powder, coriander, ginger, garlic and chilli paste. Add the lamb and ½ cup water to thin the sauce a little. Cook on Low for 6-8 hours, or High for 4-5 hours. Add tomatoes and tomato purée for final hour of cooking.
If cooking on the stove top: When onions are cooked, add yoghurt, salt, turmeric, chilli powder, coriander, ginger, garlic and chilli paste and stir well. Add lamb cubes and ¾ cup water and stir some more. Cover the pot with a well-fitting lid, turn the heat down as low as possible and simmer slowly for 45 minutes. Add tomatoes and tomato purée and cook, covered, for a further 60-75 minutes until the lamb is fork tender.
Check the amount of liquid in the curry – if there is too much, remove the lid, turn up the heat a little, and simmer rapidly for 10 minutes to reduce the liquid. You want a thick gravy coating the meat, rather than a thin soupy liquid. Remove the cinnamon stick and bay leaf and any cardamom pods you may find. Stir through the coriander leaves just before serving.
Serve with steamed rice, topped with more coriander if you want.
2.) LAMB AND PRUNE TAGINE from the very talented Tori Hashcka
(Nb, you could just put everything straight in the slow cooker, but you will get a better flavour from browning the meat and the spices first.)
1.5kg of lamb shoulder, or neck, cut roughly into chunks the size of a matchbox
2 brown onion, cut into half moons
3 tbsp of olive oil
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp of paprika (not smoked)
2 tsp of ground cumin
2 tsp of ground ginger
1 tsp of black pepper
1 tsp of salt
2 tablespoons of plain flour
18 pitted prunes
1 tin of chickpeas, drained (the chickpeas aren’t essential, but they do help bulk it out)
300 ml of vegetable stock, or water
Optional toppings and condiments: fresh coriander, natural yogurt, flaked almonds and harissa/chilli paste.
- Combine the flour, salt, pepper, ginger, turmeric and ground cumin together (if you have a large freezer bag, do it in bottom of this- you can coat the meat by sealing the top and shaking it all around).
- Toss the meat through the flour and spices.
- Turn a large fry pan or wok onto a medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Sauté the onion for 7-10 minutes until they soften. Add the onions to the base of your slow cooker.
- Add another tablespoon of olive oil to the fry pan or wok. Seal the meat in two or three batches so the spices toast and the meat browns.
- Add the browned meat to the slow cooker.
- Add the rest of the ingredients to the slow cooker. Put the lid on and cook it on low for 8-10 hours, or on medium for 5 hours.
- Remove the lid for the last half an hour to help thicken the sauce. The heat should have helped most of the prunes to dissolve throughout the sauce. You want your meat to be flaking apart against a fork.
- Serve with cous cous, fresh coriander and flaked almonds.
- Optional extras; a small dish of natural yogurt with a splash of olive oil mixed through it and a small dish of harissa or chilli paste for those who like things a little spicier.
GREEK STYLE LAMB SHANKS WITH TOMATO AND RISONI from the illustrious Phoodie
4 large lamb shanks
4 carrots – peeled and chopped into 3cm chunks
4 cloves garlic – crushed
2 baby shallots – finely chopped
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup risoni pasta
Juice – 2 lemons
Rind – microplaned 1 lemon
1 tin diced tomatoes
1 lL tomato passata
Beef stock – to cover contents of slow cooker (about 2L)
2 teaspoons freshly dried oregano
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 bunch parsley – chopped to garnish
Greek Flat bread – grilled with olive oil
1. Heat butter and oil in a pan and fry off the garlic and shallots – you want them to become transparent, not to burn!
2. Chuck in lamb. Brown it. Caramelise all sides.
3. Chuck in carrots. Caramelise them slightly too.
4. Transfer all of this to slow cooker.
5. Add in tomato, passata, lemons, stock and oregano
6. Cook for 1 million years (I normally do it for 6 hours)
7. Depending on your cooker either add the risoni in to the mix towards the end (if your cooker can manage a continual boil) or cook risoni separately and toss through before serving.
8. Garnish with parsley and serve with Tzatziki and grilled flatbread.