7 slow-cook dinners I love (and 1 fast new fave)

It’s been so wet and cold recently – time to crack out the slow-cooker again. Ahhh, I love my slow-cooker. Here are some of the family favourites I’ll be cooking in the coming months. Do you have a favourite slow-cooker recipe? I’d love to try it.

Plus, I can’t help including a new casserole favourite I tried last week from Jamie Oliver’s “Save with Jamie” book (which means it’s cheap too!). It doesn’t require  a slow-cooker but it’s guaranteed to spice up a winter night.

Recipe: Spiced Sausage Cassoulet

sausage cassoulet

300g pork belly, skin off, bone out

8 thick sausages

olive oil

2 carrots

1 red onion

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 x 700g jar passata

1 x 400g can cannellini beans

1/2 bunch rosemary

ready made garlic bread (Jamie made his own but I couldn’t be bothered!)

METHOD: Preheat the oven to 180C. Cut the pork belly into chunks and put into a large ovenproof casserole pan on a medium heat with the sausages and lug of olive oil. Keep them moving while you peel the carrots and slice into chunks at an angle, and peel the onion and cut into wedges. When the pork belly and sausages are lightly golden, remove the sausages and carefully slice each one into three at an angle, then put back into the pan with the carrot, onion and paprika and cook for a further 15 minutes, stirring regularly.

Tip the passata into the pan. Half fill the empty passata jar with water, swirl it around and pour into the pan. Drain and add the cannellini beans and a pinch of salt and pepper then stir well. Cover with foil and place in the oven for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, pick and roughly chop the rosemary leaves and toss them with a lug of olive oil. Discard foil from casserole, add rosemary and place in the oven for another 30 minutes, or until thick and delicious.

Serve with toasty garlic bread (and rice if liked).

Recipe: Moroccan chicken tagine

slow1

  • 8 chicken thigh cutlets (also great with chook legs)
  • 3 tablespoons paprika
  • 3 tablespoons turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large onions, peeled and sliced
  • 3 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 400g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 quarters preserved lemon (a little pricey but essential, a whole jar will make heaps of tagines)
  • 100g mixed olives
  • chopped fresh parsley

Method: Toss chicken in mixture of paprika, turmeric and ginger. Fry spiced chicken in olive oil on a low heat until sealed and golden. Place chicken in slow cooker. Add onion and garlic to the pan, cooking on low heat until soft, then place in the slow-cooker. Add tomatoes with their juice, cinnamon, stock and lemon juice to the slow cooker. Cook on high for 3 & 1/2 hours. Add chickpeas to the slow-cooker for another 30 minutes. Remove pulp from preserved lemons, rinse rinds under cold water and finely dice. Add to chicken with olives. Simmer a further 10 minutes. Serve with cous cous and sprinkled with parsley.

Recipe: Slow-cooker spag bol

slow2

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • olive oil
  • 1kg beef mince
  • 600ml passata
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 stick of celery, roughly chopped
  • 2 carrots, roughly chopped
  • 2 zucchinis, roughly chopped
  • handful cauliflower florets
  • fresh herbs of choice

Method: Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a deep pan and gently fry onion mixture until soft. Add beef mince, breaking up with a wooden spoon until browned. Put mixture in slow cooker. Place carrot, celery, cauliflower and zucchini in food processor with a generous slug of passata. Zizz until they are pureed. Add to slow cooker with remaining passata and tomato paste. Add herbs as desired – I threw in some oregano and thyme leaves I had in the crisper. Cook for 8 hours on low. Serve with pasta of choice, sprinkle with some parmesan and add extra veg on the side if you really want to torture the kids.

Recipe: Balsamic lamb casserole

slow3

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1kg lamb best-neck (or any lamb cut on special, great with shanks)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 carrots, chopped into chunks
  • 3 sticks celery, chopped into chunks
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 x 400g cans tomatoes
  • 150ml balsamic vinegar
  • Handful of thyme sprigs
  • 2 x 400g cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed.

Method: Heat the oil in a heavy based frying pan. Brown the lamb. Place in slow cooker. Saute the onions, carrots, celery and garlic and saute until they begin to soften. Add to the slow-cooker, together with the tomatoes, thyme and balsamic vinegar. Cook on low for 7 hours. Add the cannellini beans. Cook for 30 minutes. Serve with soft polenta, mash, cous cous or rice.

Recipe: Mexican chilli beef

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1.5kg chuck steak, cut into 2cm cubes
  • Sea salt
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika (Masterfoods usually has it)
  • 2 dried chipolte chillies (I ordered mine from www.herbies.com.au)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 x 400g cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 1 tablespoon fresh coriander, chopped
  • Wheat tortillas, grated cheese, sour cream and rice to serve

METHOD:  Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a heavy-based frying pan. Cook beef in batches until browned. Place in slow cooker. Heat another tablespoon of olive oil in pan and saute onion and garlic until soft. Add to slow cooker. Stir in tomatoes, sugar, dried spices, tomato paste and salt. Cover and cook for 8 hours on low. Just before serving, heat oven to 180C. Gently press tortillas into oven-proof bowls to create fluted basket shapes and bake until crisp. Fill with beef mixture, sprinkle with coriander and serve with grated cheese, sour cream, rice and soft tortillas.

Recipe: Chilli and Brandy Beef with White Beans

  • 6 shallots (the brown French kind)
  • 1.2kg beef brisket, coarsely diced
  • 1 fresh, long red chilli, chopped finely
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 4 medium egg tomatoes, chopped coarsely
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 2 x 400g cans of cannellini beans, rinsed

METHOD: Peel shallots, leaving root ends intact; cut shallots in half lengthways. Combine shallot, beef, chilli, garlic, tomato paste, stock and brandy in a slow cooker. Cook, covered, on low, for 8 hours. Add beans, cook, covered, on high for 30 minutes. Serve.

Recipe: Osso Buco

  • Olive oil
  • 8 pieces of veal shin
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 carrots, diced (technically carrots are a teeny bit carby, so substitute zucchini or eggplant if you’re hard-core)
  • 3 sticks celery, thickly sliced
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 cup of passata (Italian tomato sauce)

METHOD: Add a few sploshes of olive oil to a heavy based pan. When oil is hot, pan-fry veal shins until brown. Place in a slow-cooker. Add a dash more oil to the pan and saute onions and garlic until soft. Add to slow-cooker. Add carrots, celery, stock, wine and passata to the slow-cooker. Cook for 8 hours on low. Serve with celeriac puree (a low-carb alternative to potatoes) and gremolata (a delicious topping that really amps up the flavour, optional)

Celeriac mash

Peel and dice a couple of celeriac. Boil until soft. Drain, mash with 1/2 cup of cream, butter and salt.

Gremolata

Place 1/2 bunch of continental parsley, grated rind of a small lemon and 1 clove of garlic in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Sprinkle over the osso buco .  Serve.

Recipe: slow-cooker chilli con carne

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1kg beef mince
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste
  • 800g can crushed tomatoes
  • 800g can of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • Steamed rice, sour cream, freshly chopped coriander leaves and grated tasty cheese to serve

METHOD: Heat oil in a frying pan and saute onion and garlic until soft. Add mince, cumin and smoked paprika and cook mince, stirring and breaking up, until browned. Transfer to slow-cooker. Stir in oregano, beef stock, tomato paste and tinned tomatoes. Cook, covered, on low for 8 hours. Serve with rice, sour cream, freshly chopped coriander leaves and grated tasty cheese.

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