Slow cooking – a handy guide

You don’t need new recipes to slow cook food

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One of the things I have found to be the most helpful in the kitchen since having M is the Slow Cooker. I love it. We get tasty, healthy meals that are ready for when we need them using little to no effort.

I have recommended many a parent to use a slow cooker and I would say that of those who have bought one there has been nothing but joy.

One thing that people do seems to ask for a lot is slow cooker recipes but there really is no need to get fancy slow cooker recipes. You can cook anything you would in a pan in a slow cooker without special cook books.

How much liquid to add?

One thing to remember is that when cooking on a slow cooker liquid does not boil away so you may end up with more liquid in a meal than you would if you cooked on the hob.

If you use a recipe for hob cooking you will need to add less. Some people say to add about half the liquid from the recipe. I sometimes take the lid off half an hour before dishing, turn to HIGH and let it steam a bit to get rid of liquid of I have too much.

How long to cook in a slow cooker?

If you have a recipe that says to cook for 15-30 minutes on a hob put this in a slow cooker for 4-6 hours on LOW or 1.5-2 hours on HIGH

If you recipes is to cook for 35-45 minutes on the hob cook for 6 to 10 hours on LOW or 3-4 hours on HIGH.

For 50 minutes to 3 hour recipes put on for 8-10 hours on LOW or 4-6 hours on HIGH.

I would recommend that if you are cooking on LOW that you give all uncooked meat around 8 hours to cook, more if possible.

Can you cook frozen meat in a slow cooker?

This depends on your machine but generally you can. Always check the manual that comes with your machine. If it says not to cook frozen meat then don’t but our machine allows it.

I have a crockpot which takes in the book that frozen vegetables and prawns can be used as part of the recipe with no special procedures.

If you want to use frozen meat it is stated that you must first add 250ml of warm liquid to the pot before adding the frozen meat. This is to act as a cushion to prevent sudden changes in temperature. You then add 4 hours to LOW instructions and 2 to HIGH.

This is great as the best thing about slow cooking is you can buy the big bags of frozen meat from the supermarket and just keep in the freezer and cook when needed. I used to think you had to thaw and would normally forget to take out the meat and hence have to rethink my meal ideas, now I can get a great meal with meat by putting the frozen meat to the pot.

Do you have to prep food before adding to the slow cooker?

With meat I never bother browning it first. You can but it is not necessary. If you want to brown to remove some of the fat then go ahead but we never bother. We do trim fat off cuts of meat when there is lots but normally it just gets thrown in.

Vegetables do not need any special prep but they do take a little longer than meat to cook so you can either cut them thinner than usual or put near the edges if you want to cut down on cooking time. I just bung them in cut in cubes and put them on in the morning and have them at night.

Rice can be added to the pot and cooked with the meal. It saves you cooking it nearer serving but make sure you add a cup of water for each cup of rice that you add.

For Pasta it is best to pre-cook the pasta first until they are just slightly done.

Recipes

You may have a favourite recipe that you love to make in the slow cooker. Why not add a link to the recipe in the comments.

Why not try this baby friendly slow cooked Nando Tuna Tagliatelli recipe.

 

Tesco Finest Pork Medallions with tomato sauce

Tender and tasty for the whole family thank to Tesco Finest

As a member of the Orchard at Tesco I was given a £5 voucher to buy and test some Finest meat over the Christmas period. As we had a lot of turkey and chicken when we spent time with family we decided buy the Tesco Finest British Pork Fillet Medallions, 300g for something different.

I admit that I am not someone who has ever cooked pork, nor did I know what to do with it, so I was not expecting anything special from these. We have bought sausages in the Tesco Finest range before which were delicious so we were hopeful that even without the chef know-how we would manage to make something edible.

The packet was £5 for six fillets or two packets for £6. We bought the two packets (obviously) which I think it great value for money – 12 fillets for £5! I think 6 for £5 is a bit dear, especially as they are small and you would probably use the whole pack for a meal for two. In comparison to some of the meat ranges this was super cheap. Wow I was shocked at the cost of some of the meats. I am not sure if we would ever be able to justify some of the other meats in the Tesco Finest range.

As I have said, I have no knowledge of cooking pork so I did a quick Google search for recipes and saw one that looked OK. I then adapted that a little.

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The end result:

With an 11 month old with only two teeth I was worried that the pork would be too tough for her to manage to eat it. As you can see by the picture above this was not a problem as the pork was tender and she was able to pull bits off and eat it well.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The adults also really enjoyed the dish The meat was succulent and tender and tasted delicious. We did not use salt or pepper on this as we were cooking for Molly too but I don’t feel that it needed it.

One of the medallions did fall apart when I took it out of the packet, which for us was OK as it meant Molly had smaller finger food sized meat pieces but I would have been a bit disappointed if I had been cooking for a dinner part and was worried about presentation.

The fillets were a good size as well. Not too big and not too small. Even when cooked they did not lose any of their size.

One added advantage was there was no fat on them. Great when you are trying to eat a bit healthier!

Tesco Finest pork medallions have converted me to eating more pork. We are more of a chicken and mince family but sometimes you just need a kick to get you to try something different. I am just so glad we got the 2 for £6 as it means we have another delicious meal to look forward to later this week.

I think these will be added to our regular shopping list, IF they stay at 2 for £6. If they are £5 a packet we would buy this for special treats.