Sunday, 9 February 2014

Kitchen Gadget 5. Slow Cooker

We can be rather lazy when it comes to cooking. We love home cooked meals, but even more we love meals that are all prepared in advance, that allow us to just sit down and eat.

This months gadget is our slow cooker (crock pot for those of you over the pond) and it allows us to do just that. We can fill it with some fairly simple ingredients on a Saturday morning, go out for the day, spend time in the garden, or get on with other jobs, and come back to a wonderfully cooked dinner for minimal effort. If we're feeling organised we fill it up on a weekday evening and then we just need to pop it on when we leave for work in the morning. Perfect.

As an added bonus, slow cooking can take even the toughest cuts of meat and turn them into a tender and juicy dinner. One of our favourites at the moment is short-rib. This is a beef cut that isn't particularly fashionable - you can't find it in the supermarket and tends to be fairly cheap at a butchers - but is full of flavour and beautifully tender when cooked slowly.

Slow Cooked Short-Rib in Beer, with Dumplings
Serves 4-6

2 Pieces of Beef Short-Rib (if you can't get hold of this, brisket works just as well)
2 Red Onions, coarsely chopped
5 Carrots, chopped into chunks
200g Mushrooms, chopped into chunks
1 Can Stout (we used Brains Black)
2 Bay leaves
A Small Stick of Horseradish (optional)
1/2 tsp Pepper
2 tsp Instant Gravy Powder (or enough to add a slight gloss and thickness

On a good day we fry off each of the ingredients as this adds flavour. If you're short of time then skip the first 4 steps and just place the ingredients in a slow cooker.

1. Fry the beef in a little oil until the outside is golden and brown. Transfer this to the slow cooker.

2. In the juices the beef has left fry off the onion and carrots over a fairly high heat until the onion is starting to brown. Transfer these to the slow cooker.

3. Do the same with the mushrooms. Transfer them to the slow cooker.

4. Next use the same pan to make the gravy (lots of good flavours are left behind by the rest of the ingredients). Pour the stout in the saucepan, and add the bayleaves, horseradish, pepper and gravy powder. Heat until combined. Transfer to slow cooker.

5. Turn on your slowcooker and leave for 8 hours.

For the dumplings:

150g self raising flour
50g suet
a pinch of salt
1 tsp mixed herbs
90ml water

1. About one hour before you wish to eat combine the dry dumpling ingredients. Slowly add the water and combine to make a dough.

2. Roll into balls and sit them on top of the stew. Pop the lid back on and leave until dinner time.

Catch up with the rest of our Kitchen Gadget's here.


  1. I"m with you Jenny I love my slow cooker D on the other hand does not so I have a small one just for me that is just the fight size for one to two people and is ideal when I don"t get home from work till late.

    1. Walking in the door at the end of a long days work to the smell of whatever's in the slow cooker is great isn't it. Shame D can't be persuaded.

  2. I never knew you could make dumplings in a crock pot. I love dumplings in bean soup so I really need to give this a try.

    1. Definitely do it. With the dumplings you can get a whole meal all in one dish :)

  3. I love my slow cooker for convenience, but I must admit that I prefer my veggies cooked separately. The rest of the family prefer everything cooked together so I do it that way for ease. I don't think I've ever had short rib but I love brisket. People are put off thinking it's a cheap cut, but in my opinion, it's the tastiest cut. Absolutely delicious cooked slow.

    1. We often do brisket too, very tasty. We sometimes do our veggies all in one, and sometimes have a mix of slow cooked and fresh, it normally depends on how tired we are. Sometimes convenience wins!


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