The cool autumn weather brings with it the want for warm, hearty meals. What better time to learn to use your (until recently unloved) Slow Cooker?! Or maybe you’re already in a committed relationship with your Slow Cooker but are looking for new recipes to spice up your love life – in either case, read on…
Do you have a slow cooker? Was it not love at first sight?… Me neither. I’ve owned a slow cooker for the last 5 years… I think I’ve used it twice. I didn’t get what the fuss was all about and I just couldn’t get to grips with it.
I decided that this year would be the year that I mastered the Slow Cooker – so I set myself a challenge…
Every day for the next week, I would only make the evening family meals using my Slow Cooker.
This challenge got delayed by a whole day when I wasn’t able to find the blimmin’ lid to my slow cooker, nada, gone, lost. So my lovely Other Half bought me a new Crockpot which would be delivered the next day, (what would we do without Amazon Prime). We had Dominos Pizza that night.
Day One – Beef Stew (6hr 20min)
My beautiful new Crockpot arrived the following morning and I was ready to go. My first meal of choice, a rather typical but delicious Beef Stew. I served this with dumplings – because no beef stew is complete without dumplings! My Other Half has complained in the past about how he doesn’t like beef stew but he loves this recipe – it’s become a firm favourite in our house.
- 900g diced stewing steak
- 2 tablespoons plain flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 onion, chopped
- 350ml beef stock
- 3 potatoes, diced
- 4 carrots, sliced
- 1 stick celery, sliced
Prep:20min › Cook:6hr › Ready in:6hr20min
- Place beef pieces in slow cooker. In a small bowl mix together the flour, salt and pepper; pour over meat and stir to coat beef with flour mixture. Stir in the garlic, bay leaf, paprika, Worcestershire sauce, onion, beef stock, potatoes carrots, and celery.
- Cover and cook on High setting for 4 to 6 hours or on Low setting for 10 hours.
Day Two – Jambalaya (8hr 20min)
I left out the prawns on this recipe and upped the chicken otherwise my Other Half wouldn’t have gone near it! I’ve cooked Jambalaya many times before on the hob but obviously this was my first time using a slow cooker – and it was so much easier! I served it with rice. The recipe makes for enough to freeze and feed our entire family again! Ideal! (Which is just what we did).
- 450g skinless, boneless chicken breast fillets, cut into 2.5cm chunks
- 450g smoked pork sausage, sliced
- 2 (400g) tins chopped tomatoes
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 large green pepper, chopped
- 125g celery, chopped
- 250ml chicken stock
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons dried parsley
- 2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 450g frozen cooked and peeled prawns
Prep:20min › Cook:8hr › Ready in:8hr20min
- In a slow cooker, mix together the chicken, sausage, tomatoes, onion, green pepper, celery and stock. Season with oregano, parsley, Cajun seasoning, cayenne pepper and thyme.
- Cover and cook for 7 to 8 hours on Low for 3 to 4 hours on High. Stir in the prawns during the last 30 minutes of cook time.
Day Three – Pulled Pork Sandwiches (5hr 15min)
This was absolutely delicious! I’ve never cooked pulled pork before and I needed to impress as my Other Half cooks awesome pulled pork! Needless to say he was very impressed! I served these sandwiches alongside crispy roast potatoes.
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- 1 (1.8kg) pork shoulder
- 230ml barbeque sauce
- 120ml apple cider vinegar
- 120ml chicken stock
- 50g light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon American yellow mustard
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon chilli powder
- 1 extra large onion, chopped
- 2 large cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 8 burger baps, split
- 2 tablespoons butter, or as needed
Prep:15min › Cook:5hr › Ready in:5hr15min
- Pour the oil into the bottom of a slow cooker. Place the pork shoulder into the slow cooker; pour in the barbecue sauce, apple cider vinegar and chicken stock. Stir in the brown sugar, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, chilli powder, onion, garlic and thyme. Cover and cook on High until the pork shreds easily with a fork, 5 to 6 hours.
- Remove the pork from the slow cooker and shred the pork using two forks. Return the shredded pork to the slow cooker and stir well.
- Spread the inside of both halves of the burger baps with butter. Toast the baps, butter side down, in a pan over medium heat until golden brown. Spoon pork into the toasted baps.
Day Four – Chilli Con Carne (8hr 15min)
We weren’t overly impressed with this recipe – If I make it again, I’d use just 1 tin of Kidney beans (there was way too many beans!) and definitely add more Chilli powder.
- 500g (1 1/4 lb) minced beef
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 1 green pepper, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 (600g) jar passata
- 2 (400g) tins kidney beans, liquid reserved from one tin
- 1 (400g) tin cannellini beans, liquid reserved
- 1/2 tablespoon chilli powder
- 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 teaspoon dried basil
- 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Prep:15min › Cook:8hr › Ready in:8hr15min
- Place the mince in a frying pan over medium heat, and cook until evenly brown. Drain fat.
- Place the mince in a slow cooker, and mix in remaining ingredients.
- Cover, and cook 8 hours on Low.
Day Five – Lemon Garlic Chicken (3hr 30min)
This was delicious! I served on a bed of Penne pasta and peas (as it needed more greens). This took no time at all to prepare – very simple and very yummy!
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 6 skinless chicken breast fillets
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 60ml water
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon chicken stock paste
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
Prep:15min › Cook:3hr15min › Ready in:3hr30min
- In a bowl, mix the oregano, salt and pepper. Rub the mixture into chicken. Melt the butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Brown chicken in butter for 3 to 5 minutes on each side. Place chicken in a slow cooker.
- In the same frying pan, mix the water, lemon juice, garlic, and stock paste. Bring the mixture to the boil. Pour over the chicken in the slow cooker.
- Cover, and cook on High for 3 hours, or Low for 6 hours. Add the parsley to the slow cooker 15 to 30 minutes before the end of the cook time.
Day Six – Lamb One Pot (8hr 10min)
I have never cooked lamb before but felt that I should give it a go as it’s my Other Half’s favourite meat. I bought a slightly larger piece of lamb as I’m feeding a family of 4 and the recipe is only for 2. This is a beautiful recipe and the lamb flavour really gets absorbed into the carrots and the potatos. I left the skins on my carrots and added a sprinkle of Rosemary and two gloves of garlic into the slow cooker for extra yumminess.
- 3 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
- 12 small new potatoes
- about 700g boneless lamb shoulder joint
- salt and pepper
- 400ml lamb stock
- 2 tablespoons Bisto gravy granules
- mint sauce or jelly to serve
- Yorkshire pudding to serve
Prep:10min › Cook:8hr › Ready in:8hr10min
- Turn the slow cooker onto low. Place the carrots and potatoes in the bottom. Remove any string from the lamb joint and place on top. Season with salt and pepper.
- Pour over the hot lamb stock, cover and cook for about 8 to 10 hours.
- When ready to serve, remove the lamb carefully (use 2 forks to lift out as it will fall apart – no need to carve, just pull the meat apart). Make up about 120ml boiling water with the Bisto and ladle in a few ladlefuls of the juice from the slow cooker to taste.
- Plate up the lamb and vegetable and serve with Yorkshire pudding, mint sauce and gravy.
Day Seven – Defrosted and reheated Jambalaya
Okay, so I cheated a little on day seven but this meal freezes and reheats beautifully and tastes just as good the second time around!
Well, I am officially in love with my Slow Cooker.
In fact, I’ve gone on to plan Slow Cooker meals for this week too! It is such a nice feeling knowing that dinner is ready to be dished up when dinner time comes – It’s meant that I’m not having to rush home to get dinner on or worry about if we have time to walk the dog or not. If you’re yet to be convinced, I recommend taking my challenge – I promise you’ll love it!