My slow cooker is my saviour!
Yes I know I sound like I’ve joined a cult, but like many before me, when you discover what a slow cooker can do, it will transform your approach to dinner, and your life.
Nothing beats slinging a few ingredients in the slow cooker of a morning, then coming home 6-to-8 hours later to a feast that not only smells amazing and takes hardly any effort, but tastes better than cooking on the hob. It’s also cheaper and healthier than using processed sauces from a jar.
So where to start with a slow cooker? It’s a kitchen aid that many of us have stuck in a cupboard somewhere, gathering dust because we’re just not quite sure what to do with it. Well, step aside and let me at that cupboard. I’ve got a whole host of tried and tested recipes that I’m just dying to share!
Want spag bol but not got time to chop all those veg?
Want Shepherd’s Pie but can’t bear the thought of all those pans?
Want chilli con carne but feel you can never get it tasting right?
Your slow cooker is here to help. You can even get ahead by prepping veg in advance. Chop up some veg when you have time, dice and freeze those tired carrots at the bottom of your fridge. Getting organised when you have time means you are prepared for when you have none. Or, if you’re really pushed (or knackered or lazy, like me!), buy a bag of frozen chopped base veg like this from the supermarket.
So, onward to the recipes. Mince is a staple in many households and it’s so versatile in the slow cooker. I’m going to share with you 3 of my favourite tried-and-tested recipes.
NB. With all these recipes, just sling everything in raw and cook for 6-8 hours. Stir only once or twice during the cooking process.
3 golden rules of slow cooking:
- Slow cookers need far less liquid than you would use on the hob.
- Do not take the lid off unless you absolutely have to. It will take the slow cooker about half an hour to return to temperature.
- Season at the end.
Slow cooker Bolognese – 8 hours on low
- 500g beef mince (beef and pork mix also works well, but is fattier)
- Finely diced onion, celery and carrot.
- Diced red pepper (not essential).
- 3 garlic cloves (whole – they break down during cooking)
- 1 carton of passata or 1 tin tomatoes (a tbsp sugar can help if too acidic)
- 1 tbsp tom puree
- 2 beef stock cubes crumbled,
- Glass of red wine if you have it
- Tablespoon dried Italian herb mix, or oregano
Slow cooker Shepherd’s or Cottage Pie base 6-8 hours on low
- 500g beef or lamb mince
- Finely diced onion, carrot and celery
- Mix ½ tbsp flour through the meat and veg
- 2 tbsp tom puree
- 2 tsp English mustard
- 2 beef stock cubes
- 2 bay leaves
- Glass of red wine or beer if you have it. Not essential.
Slow cooker Chilli con Carne- 8 hours on low
- 500g beef mince
- Optional extra – diced chorizo, gammon or streaky bacon
- Diced onion, red pepper and celery
- 3 whole garlic cloves (they break down in cooking)
- 1 tin tomatoes
- 1 tin black beans and liquid (helps to thicken)
- ½ tsp chipotle paste if available, otherwise use chilli powder
- 1 tsp smoked sweet paprika
- ½ tsp smoked hot paprika
Final tip: All of these family staples freeze brilliantly. So if you want to batch cook and get ahead, portion it into tupperware and bung in the freezer for those times when you just can’t be bothered to cook. This is the Lazy Mum way!
Show me your slow cooker recipes on social media. I’d love to see how you get on! Or comment below with your slow cooker experiences and questions 👇
Find more recipes and food posts here