Slow Cooking without a Recipe

Slow Cooking without a Recipe

The easiest and quickest way to have a meal on the table if you're strapped for time is the slow cook.

Pretty much all of the luscious Secret Spice blends are great flavour boosters for your slow cooks. No more buying instant sachets from the supermarket! In this article I'm going to give you the benefits, the key ingredients and how to do it without a recipe!

Firstly, what’s the benefits of slow cooked meals?

  • Set and forget
  • The best cuts of meat are cheap 
  • It’s a quick one pot wonder to throw together in the morning
  • It’s easy to cook in bulk
  • They usually freeze well
  • You can pack the veg in
  • All you need to do is make a good sopper-upper before you eat and maybe a few more veg
  • The goodness and flavour comes out of the bones you use and they’re easy to pick out afterwards.
  • You can change the meat or change the flavour and it’s a totally new meal
  • You can also make lots of different things in a slow cooker - like overnight porridge and cakes. I haven’t gone there but It’s on the agenda!

Good sopper-uppers: 

  • Mashed spud of course! 
  • Rice
  • Quinoa
  • Cauliflower Mash

How to do it without a recipe:

The Protein - Go to the butcher and see what cheap cuts are on special - ask if you’re unsure and they always have stuff out the back. “Know thy butcher” Pick something with bones like osso bucco or shanks, even forequarter chops! If there’s nothing you fancy, ask for a couple of bones cut so the goodness comes out - the leg bones are perfect. It doesn’t have to be from the same animal - beef with lamb bones - no rules! The best meat that doesn't dry out is plenty of sinew - not the lean cuts like chicken breast and topside beef. My favourite cuts are lamb shanks or shoulder, osso bucco (gravy beef is without the bones), beef cheeks, oyster blade (better than chuck), and pork shoulder. Ask your butcher!

The Veg - root veg survives well cut bigger, onions and garlic (always!) and shredded leafy greens. Mushrooms add super flavour and can be cut any size. Your other option is to chuck a whole heap of whatever in the food processor and blitz it up! It then cooks down to a sauce kinda. Great for fuss pott kids. If you’re in a real rush, skip the veg and just do the meat, flavour and sauce! You can always whip up a pot of veg when you get home. Too easy! 

The Flavour - You can go a la naturale and rely on the flavour of the ingredients alone - totally ok and a great result if you salt it well. I would start with 2 teaspoons of unrefined salt to one slow cooker that may have at least 1kg of meat plus the bones. Otherwise add 2 tablespoons of your Secret Spice Co blend and make it something special. I will always say if it’s good for a slow cook in the description so check there first.  You can always add more flavour and salt at the end when you taste. Always taste!

The Sauce - a tin of tomatoes is sometimes all you need! There is a lot of liquid that comes out of meat and the veg so it won’t be dry. I know they say cover the meat but I find it makes it really watery and runny. You can add a splash of water (1 cup or so) if you fancy. Don’t waste your homemade broth on this as you are basically making a broth with these ingredients! If the sauce is too runny for your liking, add a tablespoon of tapioca flour to 1/4 cup of cold water in a glass to dissolve. Add it to the pot before serving.

My biggest problem with the slow cooker is this…..the sauce stays liquidy. I prefer the oven where the juices evaporate and become more gooey, rich and luscious. I don’t add much liquid at all and just check it part way through to give it a stir so it doesn’t dry out on top. The quickest I could do a pot is 3-4 hours at 160C. The flavour is better if it’s done for longer though.

Leftovers - Freeze in batches, have for lunch and the best thing is to make a soup! There’s five of us and growing! Sometimes there’s only a little left or we’ve already had it enough times that we don’t fancy it again. I can take that smaller portion, shred the meat and add more broth and veggies. There's soup right there!

So there you have it! Get your slow cook on!

Kimberly xo