If you’re anything like me, you’ll know just how hard it is to ensure that you serve up a healthy and hearty home-cooked meal each evening. It’s not for lack of trying, I can assure you; no, the problem is that by the time I get home from work each day, I’m simply too tired and it’s too late to stand in front of the cooker for hours making the evening dinner. Investing in a slow cooker has enabled my family to eat healthy and delicious home cooked meals each evening at a reasonable time of day. So here are five slow cooker recipes for you to try at home.
1. Beef and Ale Stew
Ingredients: fresh bay leaves, 500g diced stewing beef, 500ml ale, 2 sticks of celery, 2 onions, 2 carrots, olive oil, 1 tbsp plain flour, 400g tin chopped tomatoes, salt and pepper
– Chop up celery, onions and carrots, discarding peel as you go, then transfer to your slow cooker.
– Add bay leaves, 2 tbsp olive oil and the meat and flour, then pour in the ale and tinned tomatoes.
– Stir well to mix and add salt and pepper to taste.
– Put the lid on and set the slow cooker to a medium heat. Cook for three hours or until meat is tender.
– Before serving, remove the bay leaves. Do the taste test and add more salt and pepper if required.
2. Braised Beef
Ingredients: 1kg of diced shin of beef, flour for dusting, salt and pepper, 2tbsp olive oil, 2 large onions, 4 carrots, 2 beef stock cubes, 6 juniper berries, garlic, 1 cinnamon stick, 500g bottle of strong beer, 2 x 400g tins of tomatoes
– Place your diced beef chunks into a bowl of flour and add salt and pepper.
– Shake off the excess flour and add half the beef to a sizzling hot pan, cooking until brown on all sides. Remove from the pan and transfer to slow cooker, then brown the repeat for the rest of the beef.
– Chop up the onions and carrots and add to the slow cooker. Crumble the stock cubes into the cooker and squash in the juniper berries. Add the rest of the ingredients.
– Put on the lid and set to medium heat, then leave to cook all day or overnight.
3. Vegetable Casserole with Dumplings
Ingredients: 1 tbsp olive oil, onion roughly chopped, salt and pepper, garlic, pinch dried chilli flakes, 2 leeks trimmed and thickly sliced, 3 carrots peeled and roughly chopped, 2 celery sticks roughly chopped, 1tbsp plain flour, 600ml hot vegetable stock. 400g tin haricot beans drained and rinsed, springs of rosemary, 225g self-raising flour, 115g vegetable suet, 2tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
– Add the onion to a hot pan and cook until soft. Season with salt, pepper, garlic and chilli. Add in the leeks, carrots and celery and stir occasionally. Gradually stir in plain flour and the stock before adding the remainder of the herbs and vegetables. Transfer everything to the slow cooker, replace the lid and cook on low for up to 8 hours.
– 45 minutes before the end of cooking time, prepare the dumplings. Mix the flour, suet and parsley together and stir in 120ml cold water until the mixture is soft and slightly sticky. Mould into 12 dumpling balls and add to the stew during the last 30 minutes. Remove rosemary before serving.
4. Chipotle Pulled Pork with Salsa and Guacamole
Ingredients: 1.5kg of pork shoulder, 2 tbsp chipotle sauce
For the salsa: 6 tomatoes chopped, ½ red onion, 1 tbsp lime juice, small handful chopped fresh coriander, ½ garlic clove finely chopped, 1 tsp olive oil
For the guacamole: 2 avocados peeled and chopped, ½ garlic clove finely chopped, 1 tbsp lime juice, salt and pepper, flour tortillas to serve
– Set the slow cooker to low heat and place in seasoned pork shoulder for 8 hours.
– Mix together all of the ingredients for the tomato salsa in a bowl and season liberally, adding more salt, pepper or lime juice where necessary.
– To make the guacamole, mash together the avocado chunks with the garlic before stirring in the lime juice, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
– Once cooked, remove the skin and fat from the pork shoulder and cut into chunks. Mix the chipotle sauce with a little oil and mix with the pork until it is evenly covered.
– Serve the pork on a plate with the warmed tortillas and side dishes of guacamole and salsa.
5. Split Pea Dhal
Ingredients: 300g yellow split peas, 1 onion chopped, 200g tin of chopped tomatoes, 2 tsp cumin seeds, 2 tsp ground turmeric, 2 garlic cloves one crushed and one thinly sliced, 10 freeze-dried curry leaves, 700ml hot vegetable stock, 1 green finger chilli thinly sliced, 2 tbsp vegetable oil, lemon wedges to serve
– Add the split peas, onion, tomatoes, ground cumin, turmeric, crushed garlic, curry leaves, chilli and vegetable stock to the slow cooker, stirring well. Set to a high temperature for four hours.
Season the dhal with salt and pepper. Add cumin seeds and sliced garlic to a sizzling hot pan and fry until brown. Pour the spiced oil over the dhal and serve with lemon wedges.